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Office of the Chief of Naval Operations to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters

     CABLEGRAM RECEIVED       Nov. 8,1917.

Origin Opnav Washington       Serial: 13006

Via NCB 18 A

Copies to COS only. Cabled to Gib.[raltar] 10/11/17

               Copy sent to admiralty 10/11/17.



1001. Your 1259.1 Under circumstances you mention Department glad to accept British armament. It is against Department’s policy that unarmed ships should be routed through war zone, except in convoy, unless need is such as to warrant risk. Endeavor will be made in time to arm all merchant ships as guns become available. We believe that masters should be induced to accept convoy and, where authorized rulings are not obeyed, that aid of War Risk Insurance Board should be invoked to bring pressure to bear. It is in general opposed to Department’s policy for sailing vessels to enter the war zone, and under no circumstances should they be allowed to carry cargo which, if captured, would furnish aid to submarines. Above policy applies equally to ships now at Gibraltar as well as to other ships. Shipping Board and Navy Convoying and Routing Officiers informed. 13006



Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. Document was dated by alater editor, 6 November 1917. Document reference: “11-15/S/4/1/5/L.”

Footnote 1: Sims reported on 5 November that:

Four unarmed American steamers recently arrived Gibraltar for Mediterranean. Three have been armed by British authorities. request Department’s policy as owing to lack convoys very undesirable permit unarmed ships trade in Mediterranean. Sims to Officer of the Chief of Naval Operations, 5 November 1917, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B.

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