Admiral William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations, to Admiral Henry T. Mayo, Vice Admiral William S. Sims, and Rear Admiral Albert Gleaves
TROOP TRANSPORT SPECIAL LETTERS
NAVY DEPARTMENT Rec’d 29 Oct. 1917
October 4, 1917.
From: Chief of Naval Operations.
To : Commander-in-Chief Atlantic Fleet.
Commander U. S. Forces in European Waters
Commander Cruiser Force.1
SUBJECT: Troop Convoy Operations.
1. Under present conditions the movement of troops convoys involves the co-ordination of three somewhat distinct forces:
(a) The transports, which will be called herein, The Convoy.
(b) The escorting naval vessels from the Cruiser Force and from the Naval Districts which will be called herein, The Escort.
(c) The escorting naval vessels in European waters which will be called herein, the Escort.
The two escorts are operating under the orders of separate Force Commanders. Owing to the shifting composition of the Convoy and the escort on different voyages, and owing to the fact that each convoy is associated with two distinct escorts on each outward voyage, the Senior Officer present, on any occasion, may be found in either the Escort or the Convoy.
2. The Department deems it desirable in order to ensure continuity of tactical method that responsibility for the tactics of the Convoy shall reside with the Senior Officer of the Convoy, and that responsibility for the tactics of the Escort, shall reside with the Senior Officer of the Escort.
3. The following principles shall govern convoy operations:
(a) The Senior Officer Present commands the entire force and may exercise fully such command. It is, however, the desire of the Department that the tactical handling of the Convoy be left to the Commander of the Convoy, and that the tactical handing of the Escort be left to the Commander of the Escort.
(b) The Senior Officer in the Convoy shall command the Convoy. He shall, in the absence of orders to the contrary, control the course, speed, and tactics of the convoy. He shall be governed by the regulations and doctrine issued to him by the Commander of the Cruiser Force, U. S. Atlantic Fleet. He shall, before sailing, instruct thoroughly his Commanding Officers in all his plans.
(c) The Senior Officer in the Escort shall command the Escort. He shall be responsible for the escort and defense of the Convoy. He shall adjust his movements and tactics accordingly. He shall be governed by the regulations and doctrine issued to him by his Force Commander.
(d) The safety and success of convoy operations depends largely upon the heartiest possible spirit of co-operation and reciprocal confidence between the senior officers concerned. This spirit shall be fostered by the completest possible exchange of information, plan and suggestion, both before sailing, and while enroute.
4. The Commander of the Cruiser Force shall furnish the Commander U. S. Forces in European Waters copies of regulations and orders governing convoys. He shall embody in these regulations such special provisions for European waters as the Commander U. S. Forces in European waters may suggest.
5. The Commander U. S. Forces in European Waters shall furnish the Commander Cruiser Force with the general plans of escort adopted in his force and shall make such suggestions regarding special regulations or doctrine for convoys in European waters as he deems appropriate.
6. The provisions of Article 1406, 1409, and 1630, Naval Regulations, shall be strictly complied with.
W. S. Benson
Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. Identification numbers on left side below heading: “Op-17-C/28754-1-25/127” and on right side below date: “C/J/1/3” in columnar fashion. Heading: “TROOP TRANSPORT SPECIAL LETTERS” appears again at the top of the second page.
Footnote 1: Adm. Henry T. Mayo, Commander, Atlantic Fleet; VAdm. William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters; and RAdm. Albert Gleaves, Commander, Cruiser and Transport Force, Atlantic Fleet.