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


Cablegram Received 20 October 1917,

Origin    Opnav, Washington                    Serial No. 749

Via        N.C.B.D. 19                          Date No. 21018

Copies to C. of S. J.V.B. B. A. L.1              File No.

Action Referred to.

Action taken.



Ref. No.






<Memo to Admiralty>

<Naval Attache>






To: Simsadus.

749. Your 726. Armed guard not furnished vessels in South American trade. No armed merchant vessels have visited Norwegian ports. Norway reserving to itself the right to make a decision in each particular case where a merchant vessel of a belligerent power with an armed guard on board enters a Norwegian port. Spain admits vessels to her ports that are armed for defense only and has raised no objection to our few armed merchant vessels that have visited her ports. The attitude of South and Central American countries is as follows:—Chile May 26th? will treat as merchants vessels such vessels as are armed for defense purposes; Paraguay, no restriction placed on entrance into ports of armed American merchant vessels engaged in commerce; Columbia, armed American merchant vessels regarded as ordinary merchant vessels; Argentine, no restriction placed on armed North American merchant vessels entering Port provided vessels are armed solely for defense; October 12th., Peru, ships of every class of the United States enter Ports without restriction; Venezuela and Ecuador not yet heard from.

     Brazil, Uruguay, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Salvador, Honduras, Cuba, Panama, Hayti, and San Domingo have no objection to armed vessels entering their ports.


Admiral Benson.

1:45 AM

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. “Action Copy” appears in the upper-left corner.

Footnote 1: Capt. Nathan C. Twining, Sims’ Chief of Staff; Cmdr. John V. Babcock, Sims’ aide and de facto Intelligence Officer; and Cmdr. Byron A. Long, also on Sims' staff.

Footnote 2: Probably Lt. Cmdr. William Ancrum, an aide on Sims’ staff.

Footnote 3: “JWB” is probably a typo for John V. Babcock.