Captain William V. Pratt, Assistant Chief of Naval Operations, to Admiral William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations
OFFICE OF NAVAL OPERATIONS
October 10, 1917,
Memorandum for Admiral Benson:-
1. The ruling naturally works a hardship on this particular country.
2. Regardless of the fact that these ships have made successful voyages in the past, it is exceedingly poor policy to allow these vessels to go through the war zone.
3. While the Navy Department may have inaugurated this movement, it has not passed out of its hands and is in the hands of the Exports Council and the Shipping Board.
4. In a letter which the Navy Department wrote to the Shipping Board in answer to a similar query, the Navy Department stated as its policy that it believed in the case of the particular ships already loaded for the account of the French Government, these vessels might be allowed to sail, but no others in the future should be permitted to do so.
5. The matter of these particular ships is not under advisement by the Shipping Board and the Exports Council. A conference has been held on the subject and it is understood that a decision will be arrived at by the Shipping Board.
6. A proposition was advanced whereby it was asked whether these ships could not be taken over by the Shipping Board and a certain amount of equivalent steam tonnage be used to replace them in the trade to France.
7. The question of tugs and convoys for sailing ships is impracticable. The supply of tugs is inadequate and so many demands are already being made upon our war vessels to convoy steamships that it will be impossible to place in this service the necessary cruisers to do the work. Moreover, the question of convoy will be an exceedingly difficult one to accomplish.
Source Note: CyS, RG 45, Entry 520, Box 677. The memorandum is typed on “OFFICE OF NAVAL OPERATIONS” stationery. There is an identifying number in the top left-hand corner: “”Op-28.” There is a stamp below the signature: “FINISHED-PRATT-FILE.”