Skip to main content

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

Action Copy.                                File No.

CABLEGRAM RECEIVED  24 November <23,> 1918.

Origin Simsadus London                      Ser. No. 202

Ref’d to




Amnavpar Paris

For Admiral Benson.

Your 1311

Have report from Holland showing interest on part of Government and private firms in purchase of chasers. Attaches in Scandinavia2 all agree in recommending one chaser each be sent to Copenhagen , Stockholm, Sweden, Christianin<a>, Norway for inspection.

Force commander then requested inquiry made of Scandinavian Gover<n>ment if vessels could visit these ports without interning. Copenhagen replies that Danish authorities have no objections to visit og <of> vessels. If you approve visit of these vessels to neutral ports, shall formal request for permission originating with Force Commander or with you or with State Department, have notified our Attache that chasers cost about Ninety thousand dollars and reply from Copenhagen contained inquiries as to minimum price. This was answered saying boats are worth Fourty thousand dollars but offer under that amount will be considered. Have as yet no reply as to price offered. Will Department fix a minimum price or will they be sold for any price they may --- <bring> ---. If general principle selling is approved, recommend that our attache be instructed to notify Government to which they are accredited that if they desire to purchase, they should submit on stated date through their London Legation propositions in sealed envelopes. Private parties to su<b>mit their bids either direct to our attache with bond for ten percent of price offered or else at discreation of their Government. Bids of private parties may be received through their Government and handled as if they were Government offers.

Attache would be requested to advertise for offers and United States would reserve rights to reject any or all proposal<s>.

Instructions requested. Consideration has been given to possible need of Congressional authority for sale, if this would otherwise be necessary boats could be surveyed and condemned as not worth cost of sending home.3 your 131.  162623.


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

Footnote 1: This document has not been found.

Footnote 2: Col. Arthur T. Marix, U. S. M. C., United States Naval Attaché at Christiania, and Lt. Lynde D. McCormick, United States Naval Attaché at The Hague.

Footnote 3: President Woodrow Wilson and Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels did try to sell off most of the subchasers, but they found they had greatly overestimated the interest in and going price for these vessels. According to William Still,

The Navy wanted $35,000 at first but later reduced the price to a minimum of half of this amount. In January 1919, requests for bids were sent to Allied and neutral nations. A considerable number of bids were received, but few offered at least the minimum price. Enquiries in Great Britain, France, and Scandinavia, indicated that $10,000 was the maximum at which there would be any interest in them at all...ultimately, none of the neutrals purchased any.

Although the U.S. Navy likewise saw little value in the subchasers, these vessels did provide valuable service as minesweepers, couriers, and later they were used by the Coast Guard to interdict rum-smuggling during Prohibition. Still, Victory Without Peace: 53.

Related Content