Office of the Chief of Naval Operations to Admiral William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations
C O P Y
CABLEGRAM RECEIVED Nov. 09928
Origin Opnav, Washington Ser. No. 1325
Ref’d. to C. S.1 Date 28 Nov.
1325. Your 1590 our 1194 Forward Benson.2 Following plans and disposition of Force approved by Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet3 is submitted for your approval. Plans as follows
First, organize the cruiser Force into six Divisions which you verbally agreed to before leaving4 with Division 2 and 3 composed of the Armored Cruiser class Division 4 U.S.S. CHARLESTON class Division 5 and 6 U.S.S. DENVER class.
Second, assign units of Battleship Force 1 to troop ships and important cargo convoys to double protection against raiders.
Third, assign units of Atlantic Fleet to general task groups or grand divisions as stated later herein.
Disposal of Forces as follows,
First, Forces in European Waters under general command of Vice Admiral Sims as at present.
Second, Atlantic convoys under general command of Vice Admiral Grant5 grouped as follows,
(1) Trans-Atlantic Troop Ship convoys under Rear Admiral Gleaves6 composed of Transport Force Battleship Division 3 Cruiser Divisions 2 and 3 Destroyer Divisions 2 and 3.
(2) Cargo Convoy out of New York under direct charge of Vice Admiral Grant composed of Battleship Division 4 and Cruiser Divisions 1 and 4.
(3) Cargo Convoy from Hampton Roads to Gibraltar under Rear Admiral Johnson7 composed of Cruiser Divisions 5 and 6.
(4) Coastal Convoys Colon to Halifax Nova Scotia under Rear Admiral Glennon8 composed of Battleship Squadron 1.
Third, Battleship Force 2 under Vice Admiral Coffman9 together with Destroyer Divisions A and B and Fleet Submarine Chaser Squadron.
Four, Train under Rear Admiral W. L. Rodgers.10
Five, Remainder Force as at present.
Plan and disposition outlined above has the advantage of enabling us to undertake the convoy to Gibraltar and of double protection given each trans-Atlantic convoy against possible raiders. Tran-Atlantic troop-ship convoys every 8 days from New York each escorted by 1 battleship and one armored cruiser. Cargo convoy every 8 days from New York each escorted by 1 battleship and 1 cruiser. Cargo convoy Hampton Roads, Va. to Gibraltar every 15 days each escorted by 2 cruisers. Coastal convoys Colon to Halifax, Nova Scotia every 15 days each escorted by 1 battleship.
Later on when destroyers of extended sea radius become available a portion of these should be added to the Trans-Atlantic Troopship Convoys if large cruiser submarines operate in the middle and Western Atlantic. For this purpose it is estimated that at least two Divisions of Destroyers would be needed. If submarine cruiser operations become extensive still more destroyers will be needed to give adequate protection to cargo convoys. Method of handling over-sea and convoy operations to remain as at present under direct control of Operations, the Commander-in-Chief Atlantic to maintain a liaison officer in the office of Operations for the promotion co-operation and exchange of information concerning operations in progress or in contemplation.
Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. A similar version of this document was also sent on the previous date.
Footnote 1: Capt. Nathan C. Twining, Chief of Staff for VAdm. William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters.
Footnote 2: Document 1590 was sent on 21 November 1917, but has not been located. For document 1194, see, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations to Sims, 19 November 1917, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B.
Footnote 3: Adm. Henry T. Mayo.
Footnote 4: Benson had been in London since the beginning of November as the Navy’s representative on the House Mission. This mission was dispatched to London to help alleviate any lingering feelings on the part of the Navy that the British Admiralty still did not consider it a “full partner” in the war effort following the September visit of Mayo. The House Mission spent nearly a month in the war zone, the highlight of which was a second Allied Naval Conference. As a result of this conference, the Navy and Admiralty agreed to a deployment of United States battleships to European waters, the formation of an Allied Naval Council, with Sims as the American representative, the dispatch of additional subchasers, the creation of a planning section in London, the establishment of the North Sea Mine Barrage, and the creation of an American naval base at Ponta Delgada in the Azores. Still, Crisis at Sea, 75-76.
Footnote 5: VAdm. Albert W. Grant, Commander, Submarine Force, Atlantic Fleet.
Footnote 6: RAdm. Albert Gleaves, Commander, Cruiser and Transport Force.
Footnote 7: A typographical error, this is likely RAdm. Marbury Johnston, Commander, Cruiser Division Squadron 2.
Footnote 8: James H. Glennon, Commandant, Navy Yard Washington, and Superintendent, Navy Gun Factory.
Footnote 9: De Witt Coffman, Second in Command, Atlantic Fleet.
Footnote 10: William L. Rodgers, Commander, Train, Atlantic Fleet.