Skip to main content

Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels


13 November 1918.       

From:     Force Commander.

To  :     Secretary of the Navy.

SUBJECT:  Naval Experimental Station, New London, Connecticut.

Reference: (a)  My cable No. 9511.1

     1. The Naval Experimental Station at New London, created by the Department as the laboratory and field station for the Special Board on Anti-Submarine Devices, it is believed has admirably carried out its primary mission of developing submarine and anti-submarine devices. Probably the most noteworthy development at New London has been the “MV”2 apparatus, which has proven in service that listening could be carried out, in exceptional cases, with the listening ship making twenty knots. This device is considered the best developed by any Country for use underway, and this belief is shared by the British officers as well as our own.

     2. Although the “MV” apparatus has reached a satisfactory stage for installation and use, it is not considered that it is at all in final shape and there are many improvements to be made which will greatly increase its efficiency. This apparatus has proven its utility as a navigational instrument as well as a means of detecting submarines. On one night the PARKER, equipped with “MV” apparatus, escaped collisxion on two separate occasions by the listener reporting bearings of vessels before they could be seen. Its used when navigating in a fog are self evident.

     3. It is strongly recommended that the Naval Experimental Station at New London continue the development and perfection of “MV” and similar apparatus for use in Peace time as well as in War, and that the necessary technical personnel who are damiliar with the development, installation and use in service, of such apparatus be retained.

     4. There has been submitted in separate letter a report of present status abroad of supersonic development.3 It is desired to reiterate the recommendation made in forwarding above report, that the supersonic development work be continued and that the necessary personnel and facilities be provided for carrying it out.

5. In addition to the above two specific examples of work, which it is recommended be continued at New London, there are numerous other devices and apparatus in process of development that give sufficient promise to warrant continuation of work. The technical personnel at New London has gained certain knowledge which is of great value to the Naval Service and the nucleus at least of the present organization there should, it is believed, be retained. In addition, it is recommended that certain of the technical personnel who have been working with anti-submarine apparatus abroad be returned to New London when their services are no longer required abroad.

6. FINALLY. It is recommended that the Navy Experimental Station at New London be continued for carrying on of research and development work in the scientific application of physical laws to the needs of the Navy and the Marine service in general.4

WM. S. SIMS        

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 520.

Footnote 1: This document has not been subsequently located.

Footnote 2: The M. V. or MV Device (Multiple Unit Variable Compensated Acoustic Tubes) was an advanced variation the K-Tube listening device developed by Professor Charles Max Mason. See: Norman Friedman, Fighting the Great War at Sea: Strategy, Tactics and Technology, 297.

Footnote 3: The letter mentioned here has not been found. The United States was the first nation to fly an aircraft at supersonic speeds (faster than the speed of sound) but did not do so until 1947. “Supersonic Revolution”, consulted 27 November 2018.

Footnote 4: The functions of the Navy Experimental Station were later taken up by the Naval Research Laboratory founded in 1923., consulted 27 November 2018.

Related Content