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Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to Rear Admiral Henry B. Wilson, Commander, United States Naval Forces in France



21 November, 1918.

From:     Force Commander.

To:       Commander, U.S. Naval Forces in France.

SUBJECT:  Repair facilities for U.S.Naval Forces in France

during demobilization.

     1. For your information in connection with demobilization, and especially in connection with repair facilities during that time the following cables are quoted:-

Cablegram No.172 from Force Commander to Admiral Benson1 Nov.18,1918.

     “For Admiral Benson. Referring demobilization repair facilities, what is Department’s general policy regarding continuance of increase in manning Shipping Board and Army freighters and transports with Naval crews; also, as to whether Navy will be responsible for repairs to such vessels and should maintain facilities for minor running repairs. Recommend retaining on this side all repair facilities and equipment until sure that no possible Russian operations will require repair facilities. Also recommend continuing shipping from United States repair equipment already ordered for Brest and needed to complete that plant.”

Cablegram No.163 from Admiral Benson to Force Commander, Nov.20,1918.

     “Your 172 For the present Navy continue to man shipping boards and Army freighters and transports with Naval crews present policy regarding repairs and facilities for repairing continue. Your recommendation to retain repair facilities and equipment approved. We should continue shipment from United States of repair equipment already ordered for Brest only to the extent that may be required for vessels necessary to demobilize. That part of the equipment which contemplated repairs etc to numerous destroyers and patrol vessels should be cancellee<d> 221020 163.”

     2. The Chief of Naval Operations has, therefore, approved as a general policy the retention in France of sufficient repair facilities to meet any probable requirements that may arise if operations in Russia become necessary. For this purpose it it [i.e., is] suggested that from among the machine tools now received at, or en route for, the Ship Repair Stations at Pauillac and Lorient, lists should be prepared of the facilities necessary to assemble a Base in general similar to that now nearing completion at Brest; the possibility of operations in Russia should also be considered when demobilizing personnel, especially qualified for repair work.

     3. In accordance with instructions issued by this office to confer with the Army regarding its demobilization, please report as soon as you are informed by the Army Authorities which ports they propose to use for embarkation, and state whether troops or freight, or both, are to be shipped from these ports, also giving any information available as to the number and tonnage of vessels which they expect to despatch from these ports.

     4. It is also requested that you submit any further recommendations you deem necessary regarding the demobilization or re-distribution of repair facilities and personnel now attached, or en route, to the Forces under your command. In these recommendations it is suggested that you give consideration to the period of time during which the Army will be demobilizing their railroad ships at Bordeaux and at St. Nazaire, so that, if necessary, we may provide repair ships for these ports during the final stages of demobilization.

     5. In general it is understood to be the Department’s policy to retain on this side as many of the repair ships now in these waters as possible.

/s/ Sims.

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

Footnote 1: Adm. William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations.

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