Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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

Chronological Copy.

Date 16 Nov 1918 Y-12                       File No. <55-1-5R>

Sent 1155 PM 16 Nov                         Serial No. 5236

Recd. 1105 PM 17 Nov                        Cipher 58

From Opnav Washington             To Simsadus

SWO       10 Nov    R/T to Paris as 156

CS

S E C R E T

No. 5236

     For Benson and Sims. Saturday report.

     Battleship Force under Vice Admiral Grant1 went out for exercise target practice during past week.

     Nothing of any especial nature happening during the week.

     Plan for return of troop transports by establishing lanes lightships swept channel etcetera approved.2

     In it will be adopted suggestions of Commander of Forces in European waters so far as pertaining to details in European waters.

     Plan for demobilization made by Committees this side complete but waiting for receipt of your plan.

     Plan for demobilization submitted by Commander Forces in European Waters3 being studied by Bureau and cable indicating joint views of all Bureaus will soon be submitted be on all yards and industrial establishments put on 8 hour basis.4

     Where necessary to expedite work the plan is adopted of working shifts in same manner as was done before the war.

     It is estimated by so doing will really get better results at less cost.

     Priority on repairs has been shifted.

     It is now given to transports N.O.T.S. ships cargo vessels and then small craft.

     Priority in building has been shifted.

     Now given first to Battleships Auxiliaries and later than to small craft.

     Sweeping continuing, several more mines discovered.

     In indicating to Shipping Board policy to be followed with regard to gun emplacement in Merchant vessels, following adopted:

Wherever expenses can be reduced by continuing emplacement such will be done<;> wherever expense is increased no emplacement put in with regard to certain ships destined to be convoy leader wherever gun emplacement could be worked in the fabric of the hull such was to be done in the ships designated.

     Censorship lifted on shipping news but not taken off radio yet.5

     Coastwise steamers sailing direct.

     Work of taking off Armed Guard and guns will start shortly but will be a slow process, will begin with coastwise first.

     Plan for later place distribution of submarines and other Naval vessels being prepared with my6 authority[.] labor strikes in Cuba but danger of trouble now over.

     Admiral Anderson in Havana Cuba conferring with American Minister7 but now returning to Key West, Florida.

     Mexican situation as usual.

     Siberia as usual.

     South America influenza getting better.

     Haiti quiet.

     Selection Board to meet in December.8 Members not chosen yet.

     Chief Bureau of Navigation not chosen yet.9

     With regard to State Dep’t using our boxes Mr Lansing10 very much opposed to our personnel going with it, desires we turn over boxes without personnel says State Dep’t will use Army code if we will not turn over boxes without personnel.

     Am advising Secretary let them use War Dep’t code if they so desire rather than compromise our Navy Code.

     War Trade Board informed that ban previously laid on sailing vessels lifted.

     Delay to reply about Wilson, G<eh>rardi [i.e., Gherardi], and Knapp11 due to fact that Navigation agreed to release these messages which I did through them, found later than <that> one of them had not been sent.

     This about all the information 19016 5236

<Opnav.> 

R E T R A N S M I T

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. A heading, “Received Cablegram,” appears centered amid the material at the top of the document.

Footnote 1: VAdm. Albert W. Grant, Commander, Battleship Force One, Atlantic Fleet.

Footnote 2: For a tentative plan for returning troops home, see: Sims to Opnav, 14 November 1918.

Footnote 4: There is a handwritten question mark in the margin next to this confusing section. Apparently the cable came through garbled or there was difficulty translating it. The reference to yards and industrial establishments shifting to an 8-hour basis should be the start of a new sentence.

Footnote 6: The first-person pronoun here likely refers to Capt. William V. Pratt, Assistant Chief of Naval Operations, who was managing the office in Benson’s absence.

Footnote 7: RAdm. Edwin A. Anderson, Commander, American Patrol Detachment, Atlantic Fleet, and United States Ambassador to Cuba William E. Gonzales.

Footnote 8: This is the board designated to recommend officers for promotion.

Footnote 9: RAdm. Victor Blue became chief of the Bureau of Navigation in 1919.

Footnote 10: Secretary of State Robert Lansing.

Footnote 11: George Grafton Wilson, Professor of International Law at the Naval War College; Capt. Walter R. Gherardi; and Military Governor of Santo Domingo and Military Representative of the United States in Haiti RAdm. Harry S. Knapp. All three were in Europe at this time as part of the peace negotiations. See also: Pratt to Benson, 12 November and 20 November 1918.

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