Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels

[London] November 23, 1917.

From:     Commandeer, U.S.Naval Forces operating in European Waters.

To  :     Secretary of the Navy (Operations)

Subject:     Submarine versus Destroyer Construction.

          Although there are a considerable number of allied submarines operating offensively against enemy submarines, and although these operations have been attended with considerable success, there is nothing thus far to warrant speeding up the construction of our submarines at the expense of destroyer construction. Everything indicates that the destroyer is the one type that is most effective for the many duties to be carried out in submarine waters. There will always be great difficulty in getting suitable recognition signals for submarines, with the result that each submarine must be given a large area in which to operate, so as to make certain that all submarines encountered in this area will be enemy submarines. It is primarily for this reason that a larger number of submarines have not been placed in anti-submarine work.

          With more experience there is no doubt that the area now assigned to each submarine can be reduced, permitting a larger number of submarines to operate. Further experience may show greater successes and warrant a larger extension of this type of offence. However, the crying need of the moment is for more destroyers, and every effort should be made to concentrate the work on these vessels. I assume that our submarines are going along so as to keep up with the demand on this side.

          More submarines can be used in European waters, and I assume that as new ones become available they will be sent over. But the pressing need is for destroyers.

WM. S. SIMS.

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. Identifying number at top of cable: “C 3105-49.5.1” and in columnar fashion: “1/5/S/N/J/W.”

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