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Captain William V. Pratt, Acting Chief of Naval Operations to Rear Admiral Nathaniel R. Usher, Commandant, New York Navy Yard

From:     Chief of Naval Operations

  To:     Commandant, Navy Yard, New York.

Subject: Various questions in connection with work on armed merchant vessels.

     1. Returned.

     2. The Navy Department will deal directly with the Commandant on all matters of work done by or at the expense of the Navy. The Commandant will have charge of all such work.

     3.   Work on vessels naturally divides into two general classes,

     (a) Navy vessels,

     (b) Armed guard vessels.

     4.   Class (a) includes regular Navy ships, ex-German ships commissioned in the Navy as transports or auxiliaries, vessels requisitioned by the Navy, Shipping Board vessels transferred to the Navy, Army vessels transferred to the Navy, Coast Guard and other Department vessels transferred to the Navy, and privately owned vessels taken on “bare ship” charter1 and now commissioned in the Navy.

     5.   Class (b) includes vessels operated by the Army, Shipping Board, or by private owners; also privately owned vessels operating for the Navy under “time charter’.

     6.   The procedure outlined by the Commandant for vessels of Class (b) is approved.

     7.   As stated in paragraph 2, the Commandant has complete and exclusive jurisdiction over all work on vessels of Class (a) done within his district.

     8.   With particular reference to the Army transports, all work, except that in connection with Navy material installed on board, is under the jurisdiction of the Army. However, as pointed out in the Commandant’s 2d Endorsement, paragraph 10 and 11, it is possible for the Navy to co-operate with the Army and assist in keeping these vessels in condition for service. The Commander, Cruiser Force will communicate direct with the Superintendent of Army Transport Service2 in regard to defects and deficiencies on Army transports requiring attention by the Army and will forward copies of such correspondence to the Commandant for his information. All questions in regard to naval equipments, stores and ammunition, will be taken up by the Commander, Cruiser Force, with the Commandant.

W. V. Pratt        

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. Document is dated by a later editor to 12 November 1917. Document reference: “Copy to Op. 24.”

Footnote 1: “Bare-Boat” Charters the United States Government took command of the vessels and assumed all risk and responsibility for manning the vessels. Crowell and Wilson, The Road to France: 351.

Footnote 2: RAdm. Albert Gleaves, Commander, Cruiser and Transport Force and Brig. Gen. Chauncey B. Baker.

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