Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Captain Joel R. Poinsett Pringle, Senior Officer, Destroyer Flotilla, to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters

 

UNITED STATES NAVAL FORCES

OPERATING IN EUROPEAN WATERS

U.S.S. MELVILLE, FLAGSHIP.

 

30 October, 1917.

My dear Admiral:

     This will be a very much mixed up letter and will cover many subjects, but the press of business is considerable, and when I can get an hour alone with a stenographer, I prefer to put things down all in one communication rather than to take the risk of omitting something by trying to write a number of separate communications.

     U.S.S. BRIDGE.

     The arrival of the BRIDGE was reported to you by wire. She is now coming alongside the MELVILLE, will go from there to the DIXIE, then to Passage, and after being discharged she will be given orders to return to New York unless I receive instructions to the contrary. The BRIDGE has both men and supplies for us, and there are on board certain officers, and the armed guard of the stemare ANTILLES, all of whom will be sent back by here unless I receive instructions to the contrary. You have been informed by wire of the presence of these officers and the armed guard on board of her.

     SPERRY DEPTH CHARGES.

     In accordance with authority contained in your wire received today, all Sperry depth charges now on hand here will be returned via the BRIDGE.

     I suggest that the Bureau of Ordnance be informed of this action and that you recommend that no more of the fifty pound charges be sent. You are aware from my previous recommendations that these charges were only retained here as a reserve to be used in case the British supply became exhausted. You will remember that about 400 of these charges were sent to France via the CAMDEN, and if there is stowage room there for them I take that it would be a good thing to hold them as a reserve, as was being done with the charges that we are now sending home from here.

     TRAINING BARRACKS — ESTIMATE OF COST.

     I regret to say that we appear to have considerably under estimated the cost of proper outfitting of the training barracks. The preliminary estimate of $7,000. was, of course rough, and I never believed that it would be accurate, but from a careful consideration of the detailed report of the Board which was forwarded to you sometime ago, I have caused another estimate to be made, and I think it would be safe to set aside $20,000. for the proper equipment of these barracks instead of $7,000. as authorized in cable No. 13418 (October) from Admiral Benson.1 This amount is chargeable to the Naval Emergency Fund. I suggest, therefore, that you cable in this sense and secure the necessary authorization for the expenditure of $20,000. or such part of that sum as may prove necessary.

     The preliminary work of cleaning, white-washing, etc. is now in progress, and I will, from time to time, keep you informed as to my estimate of the date when the barracks may be expected to be ready. The date, of course, will depend very largely upon the time when the material, as outlined in the Boards’ report, is received from the United States.

     I greatly hope that you will be able to obtain Larimer’s2 services for me as previously requested. He will certainly be a good man for the job as Commanding Officer of the barracks.

     TRIPPE — LEAKY STERN TUBE.

     There will be forwarded, under separate cover, a report of the Commanding Officer of the TRIPPE3 relative to a leak in the stern tube. It has been necessary to dock her at Rushbrook on account of this leak, and I am hoping to get her out of dock by to-morrow or the next day. In this connection, you will observe in the report of the TRIPPE a statement to the effect that a depth charge was washed overboard by a heavy sea and exploded. The TRIPPE at the time was making about seven knots, and it was noticed that, after the explosion of this charge, the amount of leakage was considerably increased. This incident points to the necessity of exercising great care in the stowage and supervision of the depth charges, and while this is well recognized by the officers of the Flotilla, I propose to get out a circular inviting attention to this matter, and suggesting precautionary measures which should be taken, in case of heavy weather. This I will do after consultation with some of the Commanding Officers with whom I have already spoken regarding the matter. Along these same lines, we have now in preparation, a recommendation to be considered concerning the stowage on the after deck-house of depth charges. This recommendation will be submitted as soon as we can complete the necessary details.

     HOSPITAL AT GLENGARIFF.

     Babcock’s letter of 27 October,4 forwarding certain correspondence relative to the hospital at Glengariff and to its use by our officers, has just been received. There is, of course, at present, no necessity of our utilizing this hospital, and I am of the opinion that it would not be desirable to use it under any circumstances for reasons which I will be glad to give you in case the subject should come up in a more acute form than at present. I think that your letter of 11 October to Miss Reid5 is satisfactory, but I do not think that it would be well to let the impression gain ground that we would use this hospital in case of any casualties among this Force, and thereby induce the persons responsible for its existence to keep it going to provide for such contingency, because I think we would find ample accommodation here, and as I before said, I cannot at this time conceive of any circumstances which would induce us to use a hospital situated elsewhere in Ireland. All correspondence in connection with the question is returned herewith.

     U.S.S. CAMDEN.

     My wire No. 81 to you requesting that the Commanding Officer of the CAMDEN6 submit a narrative of his passage to Brest, will, I hope, result in your getting such a narrative, and sending it down here to me, as I do not think that the actions of the Commanding Officer of the CAMDEN on the occasion in question were such as to induce a feeling of confidence in his general abilities to handle a ship doing the service on which the CAMDEN was then employed. I do not wish, however, to be hasty in my judgment of the matter and will not make any statements or recommendations for your benefit unless and until I receive the narrative as requested. I am now inpossession of reports from Commanding Officers of the two escorting destroyers relative to the performance.

     MYSTERY SHIP.

     The applications for duty on the mystery ship will probably amount to sixty or seventy per cent of this Force. Your latest wire on the subject informs me that it is possible we may get some ship other than the PARGUST, and I shall accordingly proceed with the selection of personnel for recommendation to you, and hope to have everything in shape by the time a decision is reached as to the ship. Irrespective of the ship selected, Admiral Bayly and myself are firmly of the opinion that Hanrahan is the best man in the Force for the job, and that recommendation will stand in any case.7 Hanrahan desired to have Lieutenant Griffin, an officer on the CUSHING, succeed Edwards as executive officer, and I have accordingly arranged to transfer to the CUSHING from the WINSLOW, Lieut. (j.g.) Kell,8 in order to fill the vacancy on the CUSHING. Kell is in excess on the WINSLOW so that arrangement works out very well.

     I hope that the arrangement proposed regarding the new captain for the CUSHING and WARRINGTON will meet with your approval, and in anticipation of that, I have taken Lieutenant Commander Claude into the Flag Office9 and have made him thoroughly cognizant with the whole workings of that office, in order that if you should see fit to approve of my suggested arrangements, you will have at hand a man thoroughly cognizant with what we are doing down here, and who, in consequence, will, I think, be able to handle the job in London very efficiently.

     CASSIN.

     The CASSIN will probably not leave here much under three weeks from date. She is at present in dock and temporary repairs to fit her for the passage to Newport are being made. These repairs in themselves, would not, of course, take so long a time, but the Minesweeper HALDEN, whose stern, as you know, was blown off sometime ago, is in the same dock with the CASSIN and also under repair. The limited working force, I think, somewhat retards the work on the CASSIN, as the HALDEN is being repaired at the same time, and the CASSIN will not be taken out of the dock until the HALDEN is in such condition as to permit of the docks being flooded again. In the meantime, when the representative from the Shipbuilding Company at Newport arrives, we should be able to give him sufficient information to permit of his proceeding intelligently with such preparation as is possible in advance of the CASSIN’s arrival at Newport, and thereby decrease the time that the CASSIN will be out of commission. I am in receipt of a letter from Ancrum|10| referring to my suggestion that the CASSIN’s officers and crew be considered as available for manning a new destroyer. I will forward the list as requested in the course of a couple of days, but in the meantime, from a careful inspection of the September List, as published by the Navy Department, giving the state of completion of destroyers, I think it probable that all destroyers that will be ready for service by the time the CASSIN’s repairs are completed, are already provided for, and I, therefore, think it would be well to hold this recommendation in reserve. Should we receive news that a nucleus crew was desired together with the date when it was desired, we could then decide whether it would be to the best interests of the service to send officers and crew from the CASSIN or from other ships.

     MEN’S CLUB.

     The description of the Men’s Club, which you requested, sometime ago, has been written and is now in the hands of the printer. Photographs will be taken, and 100 copies of the description will be sent you shortly. I do not know whether I shall be able to send 100 sets of photographs, but will send you some.

     Your letter regarding Captain Brownrigg’s11 proposition with regard to entertainers was duly received, and the subject has had my very careful consideration for sometime past. I have also consulted with several other officers of experience, and I am still of the opinion that considering all the circumstances I do not desire to have mixed troupes of artists sent to Queenstown for a week’s stay. I sent Paymaster Wainwright to London some days ago, after explaining very fully to him my ideas on the subject, and directed him to consult Captain Brownrigg. Wainwright12 will probably return to-day, and I think the matter can be arranged without causing Captain Brownrigg to feel that we do not appreciate his efforts in our behalf. We intend and expect to increase and develop the facilities of the Club, and we propose to do it by increasing the number of moving picture performances and the number of turns put on by Flotilla talent. The Club is an invaluable asset, and you may be sure that we spare no time or trouble in its conduct and development.

     The Band is a great asset, not only in connection with the Club, but we send it about from ship to ship, and thereby give every one the benefit of it. In this connection, I consider that we should have a Band at the Training Barracks as well as the Band now on board the DIXIE, and I hope that the Department will see fit to fall in with that idea.

     FORCE GUNNERY OFFICER.

     Referring to your cable regarding the torpedo situation, and to the reply sent thereto, I suggest that you appoint Newton13 as Force Gunnery Officer as soon as possible. We need the services of a man now who can take over and handle all questions pertaining to Gunnery and Torpedoes, and I am very much in hopes that you will issue his orders at an early date.

     LIBERTY LOAN.

     We were unable to handle the Liberty Loan on account of the lack of time, but there are officers and men who desire to contribute, and as you will have seen from the mimeo issued to the Force, we propose to make arrangements to receive such subscriptions as outlined in the last paragraph of the Alnav cable on the subject.

     BENHAM.

     It is hoped that the BENHAM has, by this time, received the nozzle rings for her turbines which were shipped from Liverpool on 26 October, and that in the course of another week, she will be back in service. A telegram has this day been sent to the Commanding Officer instructing him to trace and locate the shipment of the rings, and I hope soon to hear that they have been received and are being installed.

     I am in receipt of a communication from Admiral Bayly regarding the delays in the completion of destroyer refits at Liverpool, and I think he is contemplating so arranging refits in the future that destroyers going up for refit will not go until destroyers under refit have left Liverpool and returned to the base. This letter grew out of the delays incident to the refits of the O’BRIEN, JARVIS, and PAULDING, who have just completed and returned. I will take the matter up with Admiral Bayly, and make no doubt that we shall reach a satisfactory conclusion in the premises. As a matter of fact, in a conversation with Admiral Bayly the other day, I informed him that I regarded 11 days period as really more important on account of the opportunity it afforded of giving leave to the officers and crew than on account of the material refit necessary. Our ships appear to me to be holding up remarkably well under this service, and while, of course, there will always be some small defects that crop up unexpectedly, we have not yet sent for refit, except in the cases of one or two ships that had sustained damage due to collision, any ships whose refit could not have been easily completed in the 11 days alloted, and as a matter of fact, refits have generally been completed on time. Admiral Bayly has suggested that one of our officers might be stationed at Liverpool to overlook these refits and to insure ships fitting out on time, but personally I do not think such a step either necessary or advisable. As I have before said, I think that we shall arrive at some arrangement whereby ships will either get out on time or else the fact that there will be a delay will be known sufficiently in advance of the date of completion to permit Admiral Bayly arranging his schedule of employment without the inconvenience that would be caused by a ship’s unexpected delay.

Very sincerely yours,

J.R. POINSETT PRINGLE.

Source Note: Cy, DLC-MSS, William S. Sims Papers, Box 79. Addressed below close: “Vice-Admiral Sims, U.S.N./London.”

Footnote 1: Adm. William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations. Cable No. 13418 has not been found.

Footnote 2: Lt. Cmdr. Edgar B. Larimer.

Footnote 3: Lt. Cmdr. David H Stuart, commander of the U.S.S. TRIPPE.

Footnote 4: Cmdr. John V. Babcock. Babcock’s letter of 27 October 1917, has not been found.

Footnote 5: The letter referred to has not been found but likely related to the use by American officers of the convalescence hospital opened at the Hotel Eccles in Glengarriff, Ireland.

Footnote 6: Lt. Cmdr. E. C. Jones commanded the coal carrier CAMDEN. There is no evidence that he was removed from command of the ship.

Footnote 7: VAdm. Lewis Bayly, R.N., and Cmdr. David C. Hanrahan. Hanrahan was given command of the Q Ship, U.S.S. Santee.

Footnote 8: Lt. Robert M. Griffin, Lt. Richard S. Edwards, and Lt. Claude O. Kell.

Footnote 9: Lt. Cmdr. Abram Claude.

Footnote 10: Lt. William Ancrum.

Footnote 11: Capt. Charles J. Brownrigg, R.N.

Footnote 12: Lt. Cmdr. Richard Wainwright Jr.

Footnote 13: Lt. John R. Newton.

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