Lieutenant Commander Edward E. Spafford, Commander, Radetzky, to Captain Charles P. Nelson, Commander, Submarine Chaser Detachment Two and Commander, United States Naval Base at Corfu, Greece
23 November, 1918.
From: Commanding Officer.
To : Commander Sub-Chaser Detachment Two.
Subject: Conditions at Spalato.
1. I have your orders of November 21st. as follows:
“You are hereby directed to return men of the chaser force taken by you to man the Austrian ships, to their respective vessels.”
2. When issuing this order it is not believed that you could have realised the conditions at Spalato. There is about 15,000,000 dollars worth of property, including two battleships and twotorpedo boats which by orders of Commander of U.S. Naval Forces in the Eastern Mediterranean1 I have taken over in the name of the United States, to be held in trust for such disposition as the peace conference may make of these vessels. This places the property right to these vessels in the United States and they are in every way U.S. vessels, but they are held for another.
3. I cannot believe that you would have allowed Ensign Laurence C. Sturges, U.S.N.R.F., and Lieutenant (j.g.) Clarence R. Jones, U.S.N.R.F. to have been ordered to these vessels in place of the officers I asked for: Lieutenant (j.g.) IsadorNordstrom, U.S. Navy, and Lieutenant (j.g.) James Glass, U.S. Navy. The two officers sebt [i.e., sent] are known to be without any battleship experience whatsoever and one of them has been under suspension for neglect of duty, while the two officers whom I asked for, Nordstrom and Glass, are both well known for their ability in battleships.2
4. I also asked for Chief Yeoman Eugene Bastian, who has placed four ships in commission as Executive Officer’s yeoman.3 At the time these vessels were placed in commission they were the largest vessels in the United States Navy. Chief Yeoman Bastian obtained his orders to Europe in order that he might serve with me and on his application orders were issued to him by the Bureau of Navigation to report to the Force Commander. and the Force Commander directed him to proceed to Naval Base 25 [Corfu, Greece].
5. In view of the above, I request that you visit Bai Castelli, Spalato and view the conditions, and if you then consider that I am not entitled to every portion of the personnel which I requested I further request that somebody be ordered to the duty who considers himself competent to handle fifteen million dollars worth of property for which the United States has placed itself in the capacity of trustee, with the present complement.
6. It is recommended that Lieutenant Commander Paul H. Bastedo, U.S. Navy, be ordered to the “ZRINYI” as Commanding Officer until such time as the Force Commander may order competent crews.4
E. E. SPAFFORD.
Source Note: TDS, DNA, RG 45, Entry 520, Box 415. Identifier in top-right corner: “6/D.” Distribution list below close: “Copies to :-/Force Commander (1)/Comdr. U.S.Naval Forces, East Mediterranean (1)/File (1).”
Footnote 1: RAdm. William H. G. Bullard.
Footnote 2: Nordstrom and Glass both remained stationed aboard the tender Leonidas at Corfu through the end of 1918.
Footnote 3: On 15 December 1918, Bastian was assigned to the Naval training station, Great Lakes.
Footnote 4: Bastedo remained a staff officer at Naval Headquarters in London for the remainder of 1918.