Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

First Sea Lord Admiral Sir John R. Jellicoe, R.N., to Admiral William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations


T E L E G R A M               O U T

No. 513

Date 17.10.17.

To Naval Attache Washington1                          Sent 2102

   for Chief of Naval Operations


Cypher K.

     Should there be any difficulty in using the lower antennae of U.S. mines for first supplies it will be necessary to increase the number of lines of U.S. mines in each system in the North Sea Barrage from two to three. Can you please give an approximate date when supply of complete mines and sinkers will commence and state at what rate the supply will be maintained.

     As all British Minelayers will be fully occupied in laying the British portions of the barrage will you please say how many American Minelayers will be available to deal with the output of U.S. mines. It is estimated that each ship could make 5 minelaying trips a month. It is proposed to use Cromarty as a base for the U.S. mines and minelayers. Question of facilities for assembling, ready use storage, and embarkation is being looked into on the spot. Suggest desirable that U.S. Officers should confer with ours on this question and examine proposed arrangements as to suitability for dealing with U.S. mines and sinkers; also to ascertain whether our depot system will be suitable for application to U.S. mines. It is proposed that the necessary assembling and testing of U.S. mines and sinkers on receipt and before issue to minelayers should be dealt with by Depot staffs provided by you if possible. It is hoped that you will be able to agree with this. U.S. Officers if sent over can report numbers required. Should be grateful if you would inform me as soon as possible whether you can supply sinkers for U.S. mines.2

First Sea Lord

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. Document reference in columnar fashion: “1/2/A/J/66.” Below the signature is a list of those to whom a copy of the cable was sent, they include: “I.S.L. [First Sea Lord;] D.I.S.L [Deputy First Sea Lord;] Adml. [William S.] Sims[;] D.C.N.S. [Deputy Chief of Naval Staff;] A.C.N.S. [Assistant Chief of Naval Staff;] D.T.M. [Director, Torpedoes and Mining;] D.O.D. [Director, Operations Division;] D.I.D. [Director, Intelligence Division;] D of P [Director of Plans Division].”

Footnote 1: Commo. Guy R. Gaunt, R.N., British Naval Attaché in Washington.

Footnote 2: See: Josephus Daniels to Sims, 20 October 1917. According to historian William Still, Jr., this cable of Jellicoe’s was considered by the Americans as tantamount to a formal acceptance of the concept of a North Sea Mine barrage. The General Board approved the proposal and President Woodrow Wilson authorized the project at a Cabinet meeting at the ned of the month. Even before this, Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels authorized production of one hundred thousand Mark VI mines. Still, Crisis at Sea, 430.

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