Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Admiral William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations, to Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels

S E C R E T

<November 15, 1918.>

From: Admiral Benson.

  To: Opnav.

MISSION #24 for Secretary of the Navy.

     Although guarantees for observances of Naval terms of Armistice have not yet been fully complied with, this should be done within week. Conditions are such that no risk would be run by beginning demobilization of Naval material and personnel at once in order to employ to best advantage vessels now returning America with practically no load and also to be clear for Army later.

     I have had study of demobilization plan made this side1 and following concurred by SIMS,2 meeting with my approval. That part of it requiring action of Forces in European waters is being or will be made effective unless otherwise directed by you. I recommend that the Department give necessary<y> authorization for carrying out remainder.

     PART 1. Steps to be taken when AUSTRIA and GERMANY both accept Armistice terms:

     Paragraph 1.- Stop all preparations for mines in Mediterranean sea and Aegean including cancellation of all manufacturing orders in the United States. Comment. If mines still have to be used against GERMANY they can best be used in the North Sea.

     Paragraph 2.- Stop all shipments of Naval material for U.S. Forces to Italy and Corfu except that necessary for demobilization.

     Paragraph 3.- Stop all Naval Aviation shipments from U.S.

     Paragraph 4.- Stop shipments of all Ordnance material.

Comment. I have directed SIMS to take necessary action to stop these shipments.

     PART 2. When Austrian and German despatches are delivered in accordance with terms of Armistice.

     Paragraph 1.- Demobilize Northern Bombing Squadron.

     Paragraph 2.- Demobilize U.S.Naval Base, Gibraltar except as to repair facilities, salvage units, tugs and Flagships.

Comment. Considerable Army demobilization may take place through French Mediterranean ports so that the repair facilities of Gibraltar may assist American vessels running to these ports.

     (A) Naval vessels proceeding U.S. when opportunity offers they should convoy Corf<u> submarine chasers to the U.S. if season permits. Details will be taken up later with the Department.

NOTE. I have directed that all inquiries be made through proper channels to determine whether or not Allied Governments desire purchase of any Submarine Chasers.3 Department will be informed results. Such Submarine Chasers that are not sold in Europe will be sent home under convoy.

     (B) Army store ships carrying stores to French Mediterranean may take surplus Naval stores from Gilbralt<a>r.

     Paragraph 3.- Demobilization Azores Islands except tugs, salvage units and repair facilities. NOTE: In both paragraph 2 and paragraph 3 above get recommendations base Commanders before acting.

     Paragraph 4.- Demobilizations all Naval Air Stations, sending home personnel as <f>ast as practicable. Mine carriers and colliers can be used to assist in this work. NOTE: Following spirit this paragraph: I have directed SIMS send 50% personnel (aviation) U.S. at once and to hold transports for that purpose if necessary, I desired hold all transports in France for similar purpose for Army but Army advised against it.

     Paragraph 5.- Demobilization Mine Bases, sending home all vessels and materials belonging U.S. Retain facilities for operation U.S. mine sweepers which are to participate sweeping for mines in North Sea.

     Paragraph 6.- Send all Battleships and their accessories home.

     Paragraph 7.- Send home all vessels, personnel, and material based upon Queenstown and Plymouth with exception of repair ships and salvage units which will be needed. Complete demobilization both bases.

     Paragraph 8.- Cardiff and Liverpool organizations to remain in full commission for the present. At least one repair ship will be detailed for the organization (Cardiff). Cross channel steamers and their shore organization to remain in full commission so long as their services are required by our Forces.

     Paragraph 9.- With the exceptions hereafter noted send home from French Coast all Naval vessels, Naval material and Naval personnel. Exceptions (A) Vessels personnel and material needed in connection demobilization Army. (B) Retain U.S. mine sweepers as long as their services are required. (C) Retain destroyers as necessary in European emergency duty. This provision also to be applied to other bases.

     Paragraph 10.- Suspend immediately all construction work not necessary for demobilization plans.

     Paragraph 11.- Naval Railroad batteries: When no longer needed by Army, Commander of batteries4 to take charge, dissemble and return to U. S. guns and useful ordnance equipment. That part of battery which can be used commercially, such as engines, sleeping cars, etc., to be turned over to Army provided they are desired or needed by the Army.

     Paragraph 12.- Hospitals, these will be retained with any alterations or reduced complements as may be necessary, corresponding to demobilization of Naval units which are dependent upon themselves. It may be that the Naval Hospital, Queenstown will have to be kept up after base at Queenstown is entirely demobilized, for the purpose of taking care of the sick at the Cardiff base.

     Paragraph 13.- Murmansk RUSSIA. Inasmuch as the Naval Force in Northern Russia serves diplomatic purposes rather than Naval or Military it continuation will necessarily [rely] upon diplomatic conditions which at present cannot be foreseen.

     In accordance with the provision Part 2, Section 6, Battleship Division Six and Battleship Division Nine will remain European waters for the present.

     (Sub-Paragraph) All tugs scheduled for service in European waters should continue as their services will be needed by demobilizing Army and in salvage work. 214015 Mission 24.

BENSON                 

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

Footnote 2: VAdm. William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Based in European Waters.

Footnote 4: RAdm. Charles P. Plunkett.

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