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Proposed Plan of Combined Operations in the Caribbean


     1. In the event of hostile submarines appearing in the Western Atlantic the following measures will be taken to safeguard Allied shipping to and from the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea:

(a) The British Naval General Staff Officer at Jamaica1 will order all British Naval Vice-Consuls to hold all Allied shipping in port. He will then, after sufficient time has elapsed to develop the situation, order all shipping from the Gulf of Mexico to be routed through the Yucatan Channel. That portion of this shipping which is to be formed into convoys will be concentrated at St. Thomas, West Indies. Shipping not to enter convoys will be routed through the Windward and Mona Passages.

(b) The Commander, American Patrol Detachment, U.S. Atlantic Fleet,2 will concentrate at St. Thomas as much as possible of his present force. Any additional forces assigned him will be concentrated at the same place until sufficient forces have been assembled to clear a considerable area around St. Thomas of hostile submarines. Any further forces assigned to him will patrol the Windward and Mona Passages.

(c) The British Naval Officer, Commanding Auxiliary Patrols, West Indies,3 will be requested to send any forces he can spare to St. Thomas until sufficient United States forces can be assembled there. The Commander-in-Chief of the British Naval Forces in the Western Atlantic4 will be requested to furnish armored cruisers as raider guards for the convoys after they leave St. Thomas.

(d) The United States Navy is to make every effort to keep sufficient coal on hand at St. Thomas for bunkering merchantmen. Should there be a shortage there, merchantmen will coal at San Juan, P.R., Kingston, Jamaica, or Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

(e) The United States Navy will make all arrangements for the efficient protection of merchant shipping when passing through the Florida Straits, including sea-plane patrol.

(f) When in the opinion of the commander of the American Patrol Detachment, he can afford safe-conduct to merchant shipping in the Florida Straits all Gulf shipping will be so routed, the Senior Naval Officer at Key West5 being responsible for all arrangements. In case it is considered desirable to send shipping through the Straits in convoys, all Allied merchantmen leaving Gulf ports will be given certain rendezvous in the eastern part of the Gulf of Mexico, these rendezvous being changed from time to time, blank days being allotted on which there will be no convoys. The Senior Naval Officer at Key West will be informed by cipher telegrams whenever ships leave Gulf ports, giving the approximate times at which they will arrive at the rendezvous, and will have the escorting vessels ready to meet them there.

     2. It is understood that the above general plan is to be carried out intelligently, that many minor variations may be necessary, and that important changes may possibly be required by exceptional situations.

     3. It is further understood that to be binding this agreement must be ratified by both Commanders-in-Chief.6

E. A. Anderson     

Source Note: DTS, DNA, RG 45, Entry 520, Box 413. At the bottom of the first page is a notation: “Enclosure with Estimate of the Situation No. Two.”, however that estimate is no longer with the report.

Footnote 1: Maj. E. T. N. Farmer. For more on Farmer’s role in the naval defense of the Caribbean, see: Arthur McArthur to Edwin A. Anderson, 28 May 1917.

Footnote 2: RAdm. Edwin A. Anderson, who was also the signatory to this agreement.

Footnote 3: This officer has not been further identified.

Footnote 4: VAdm. Sir Montague E. Browning.

Footnote 5: RAdm. William B. Fletcher, commandant of the Key West Naval district. On 30 November 1917, Anderson sent him a summary of this agreement; DNA, RG 45, Entry 520, Box 413.

Footnote 6: Browning and Adm. Henry T. Mayo, Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet.

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