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

Cablegram Sent          9 November 1917.

To: Opnav, Washington (Secnav)            Serial No. 1342

Via  N C B 18 ADR                 Prep. by BAL Appvd. by NCT1


Copies to: BAL only


1342. From Ad. Benson.2 Called on Geddes, had long conference with Jellicoe.3 All fully convinced practicable to lay North Sea barrier if shipping necessary for handling material can be spared.4 Have assured them we will do our part. Officer who is to actually supervise our part should be sent over as soon as convenient. Would suggest Captain Belknap or Andrews – Hoogewerff to retain command of the Mine Forces.5

     Upon falling in with SEATTLE directed DOWNES accompany us. As soon as refueled will send DOWNES and BALCH back after short stay at Queenstown. ST. LOUIS and HUNTINGTON will be sent back as soon as refueled. Some suitable vessel escorting convoy coming about time desired for commission to return should be directed to come all the way to a French port and return with Commission.6 That data will be cabled as soon as determined. 04109


Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B

Footnote 1: Cmdr. Byron A. Long, one of Sims’ aides, and Capt. Nathan C. Twining, Sims’ Chief of Staff.

Footnote 2: Adm. William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations.

Footnote 3: First Lord of the Admiralty Sir Eric Geddes and First Sea Lord Admiral Sir John R. Jellicoe.

Footnote 4: For more on the North Sea Mine Barrage, or Northern Barrage, see: Ralph Earle to Sims, 31 October 1917.

Footnote 5: Capt. Reginald R. Belknap, Capt. Philip Andrews, and Capt. John A. Hoogewerf. Belknap was made commander of the American minelaying expedition. See: Diary of Josephus Daniels, 30 October 1917.

Footnote 6: This Commission, known as the House Mission, was dispatched to London in early November to help alleviate any lingering feelings following the visit of Admiral Henry T. Mayo, Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet, on the part of the Navy that the British Admiralty still did not consider it a “full partner” in the war effort. The House Mission spent nearly a month in the war zone, the highlight of which was a second Allied Naval Conference, at which Benson, as a member of the Mission, represented the Navy. 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. See also: Robert Lansing to Walter H. Page, 7 November 1917.

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