Rear Admiral Leigh C. Palmer, Chief of the Bureau of Navigation, to Admiral William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations
Bureau of Navigation
November 28, 1917.
To: Chief of Naval Operations.
SUBJECT: Orders Governing Officers of the National Naval
Volunteers placed on Army Cargo Transports,
Reference: (a) War Diary, Appendix 3C, approved by Chief of
Staff, U.S. Army, Chief, Naval Operations,
Secretary of War, Secretary of Navy, and
President of the United States, May 26, 1917.
1. Under the direction of Operations, the Bureau of Navigation placed on board each Army Cargo Transport an Officer of the National Naval Volunteers as Senior Naval Officer on board. Operations furnished the Bureau of Navigation mimeographed copies of Reference (a) to give to each National Naval Volunteer acting in the above capacity for his guidance and for the guidance of all on board as far as different spheres of authority were concerned.
2. A careful reading of Reference (a) will show that it was drawn up particularly for Troop Transports. Paragraph 7 states that an officer not below the rank of Lieutenant Commander in the Navy, and two other experienced Officers, etc. will be placed on board each transport by the Navy Department. Paragraph 9 then defines the sphere of authority of the Senior Naval Officer. It is but fair to assume that Paragraph 9 was written on the assumption that Paragraph 7 would be complied with.
3. Under the conditions of an inexperienced National Naval Volunteer operating under such instructions friction has naturally resulted. It is understood that at least two merchant masters have refused to go out under such orders. It would appear that these orders given in Reference (a) were entirely inapplicable to a National Naval Volunteer ordered as Senior Naval Officer on board an Army Cargo Transport, and the Bureau of Navigation is of the opinion that different orders should be furnished. The Chief of the Bureau of Navigation considers this matter urgent and of the greatest importance.
L. C. PALMER
Rear-Admiral, U.S. Navy,
Chief of Bureau.
Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. Following the close is a reference for the document, “Navy Dep’t File No. 8745-204.”