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Brigadier General Chauncey B. Baker, Chief of Embarkation Service, to Major General David S. Shanks, Commanding General, Port of Embarkation, Hoboken


November 8th, 1917.

No.  472.6

From: Chief of Embarkation Service.

To:  Commanding General, Port of Embarkation, Hoboken.

Subject:  Arming of Vessels.

     Referring to conference held in your office, Nov. 7th, by representatives of the Navy Department, War Department and United States Shipping Board, for the purpose of determining causes which have contributed to delays in fitting out vessels at New York and the adopting of measures which would, in so far as practicable, eliminate occasion for these delays in the future.

     Upon handling matter of policy to be followed in the fitting out of vessels, to come into service of the War Department at future dates, with Mr. Carry, Director of Operations of the Shipping Board, it develops that, inasmuch as the Shipping Board’s organization is inadequate to permit of the Board handling details connected with the securing of specifications from the Navy Department, the supplying of some to owners and the checking up of work, plan outlined in this connection will have to be modified.

     After conference with Mr. Carry and Commander Scott1 of the Navy Department, the following policy has been decided upon.

     The Shipping Board will furnish this office list of vessels it is intended shall be assigned for use of the War Department and, at the same time, will notify owners of vessels of such intention and that alterations incidental to arming vessels are to be made by them, while vessels are operating in present service.

     Upon receipt of this list with information as to places and dates steamers will be available for inspection from the Shipping Board, this office will make formal application to the Navy Department for Armed Guard and Armament and, at the same time, furnish Commanding Officer,at port where vessel is to be inspected, with complete information.

     The representatives of the Navy Department and the War Department,at ports where inspection is to be made, will then arrange for a joint inspection of vessel, on basis of which specifications will be furnished representative of the War Department by the Navy Department.

     These specifications will then be transmitted to the owners by the War Department and Commanding Officer, under whose jurisdiction matter is handled, will perfect such organizations as will insure the prompt performance of this work as well as enable the Embarkation Service to keep fully advised as to whether or not owners are complying with directions of the Shipping Board.

     This plan will relieve the Shipping Board of details which it is not in positon to handle, give the Navy Department one source of information and responsibility, and place the Embarkation Service of the War Department in position to keep in direct touch with progress of work, and it is anticipated, by enabling owners to make alterations, while vessels are in their service, save much valuable time on steamer tonnage.

     Copies of this letter are being sent Mr. E. F. Carry, Director of Operations of the Shipping Board, Commander Scott of the Navy Department, Commanding General, Port of Embarkation, Newport News, and Depot Quartermasters, Expeditionary Forces, Philadelphia and Baltimore, who it is understood will take necessary steps to insure the operation of this plan.

C. B. BAKER        

Brigadier-General, National Army,

Chief of Embarkation Service.

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B.

Footnote 1: Probably Comdr. William P. Scott. Scott was commanding officer of Ohio at the start of 1917, but the date of his transfer to the Navy Department, or his role there, is unknown.