Captain George H. Rock, Acting Industrial Manager, Bureau of Construction and Repair, to Office of the Chief of Naval Operations
UNITED STATES NAVY YARD,
New York, N.Y.
October 29, 1917.
From: Industrial Manager.
Bureau of Construction & Repair
To: Operations, Washington, D.C.
SUBJECT: Firing Trials for Armed Guard Vessels carrying Heavy Calibre Guns.
1. It is noted that a number of heavy calibre guns (5”/51) are being removed from battleships and being assigned to vessels fitting out to carry Armed Guards.1 Some of the vessels are being designated for 2-5”/51 guns, one forward and one aft, while other vessels are to carry 1-5”/51 gun aft and 1-3”/50 gun forward.
2. These batteries are in some cases definitely assigned to vessels before same have been inspected and a battery recommendation made. In some cases the vessels are small and a 5”/51 gun with its trunnion pressure of 98,000 pounds will be a great load on the vessel.
3 3. It is realized that the shortage in guns and the imperative need for gessels [i.e., vessels] to have guns makes the assignment of 5”/51 guns a necessity.
4. In order to meet the requirements of Operations letter of August 9, #28754-1-25: 56 (Op. 24-D)2 it is in nearly every case necessary to mount these heavy calibre guns from 4 to 7’ above a deck which is generally a poop deck of very light construction. In the case of one vessel which came to this port with foundations already prepared, the after foundation was a structure 11’ above the deck. After reaching this port 5”/51 guns were assigned.
5. The mounting of these guns so high can have no good effect on the vessels, and the difficulties to be surmounted in providing suitable gun foundations are enormous. Guns have to be located in positions which under ordinary conditions would not be considered. The structural alterations required are extensive and require considerable time.
6. All of the above facts, coupled with the uncertain character of workmanship being done by the outside shipyards in this vicinity creates doubt as to the reliability of the gun foundations installed in spite of the fact that the foundations are designed to be heavier than foundations usually fitted in naval vessels.
7. It is understood that in certain cases, vessels newly fitted out for carrying Armed Guards have been required to proceed without being given sufficient time for conducting firing trials or target practice in order to test out gun foundations.
8. It is strongly recommended that each Armed Guard vessel, particularly those carrying large guns, be required to carry out firing trials at the earliest opportunity after guns are in place. These trials to be carried out preferably before ship is completely loaded and ready for sea. In case this is not possible, the trials to be conducted as soon as vessel is clear of land.
9. It is recommended that instructions be issued to all operators of Armed Guard Ships newly fitting out.3
/s/ GEO. H. ROCK.
Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. Identification number “c-9-357” appears in the upper-left corner. Address below close, but before endorsement: “Copy to:/Bureau of Ordnance/Armed Draft Officer,/Commandant’s Aide for Armed Guard Ships./Ordnance Officer, Navy Yard.
Footnote 1: For more on this, see: William V. Pratt to Ordnance Bureau, 1 November 1917.
Footnote 2: This letter has not been found.
Footnote 3: Attached after the letter is a short note, dated 31 October, from Naval Constructer Robert Stocker. Stocker endorses the recommendation in paragraph eight that ships with armed guards conduct firing trials.