Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Rear Admiral William F. Fullam, Commander, Division Two, United States Pacific Fleet, to Admiral William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations

UNITED STATES PACIFIC FLEET

DIVISION TWO

U. S. S. SARATOGA, FLAGSHIP.

8 October, 1917.

My dear Benson:-

          Your letter of October first at hand.1

     Of course, I personally regret leaving the SARATOGA, my eighth Flagship – but “War is Hell,” and we must recognize it.

     I understand the situation perfectly. If the Japanese Navy, Australian Navy and the few English Cruisers on the Coast of South America are active they should practically prevent the possibility of raiders or submarines getting around either Cape into the Pacific. And, therefore, there is no reason why ships like the SARATOGA should not go to the Atlantic, where the demands are clearly paramount.

     In the meantime, I will keep the few ships here in the best possible condition, by sending them to the navy yard frequently; and with the patrol scheme in Mexico, I can hold the situation down.

     As the Mexicans have no navy, I can use colliers and even the Oil Barge, if necessary, to guard our interests in those ports!!

     I can see that if all the South American Republics stampede over to our side, as they may do, the Germans can find no bases for their operations in South America; and we will only have to circumvent them in Mexico and Central America.|2|

     With good Consuls and a well organized Secret Service in Mexico, we can checkmate them here, with the aid of these small ships.

     I have ordered the Oregon to San Diego and will make this my headquarters, as it is the only place under the circumstances.

     I will keep these small ships training Guns’ Crews, and have suggested to Navigation to assign Reserve Officers to them also for practical training.|3|

     My radio, concerning the transfer of submarines, was intended to cover the whole situation in that respect, and to make such suggestions as appeared to be practicable from this end of the line.

     I shall remain on board the SARATOGA until after her target practice and will inspect the Submarine and Training Station at San Pedro next Thursday; and will shift to the Oregon on Friday, October 12th.

     I do hope our Government will consider this Mexican situation and put the screws on all German rascality, and make German merchants in Mexico squeal. They are making money at our expense and using it to help Germany.

Sincerely yours,  

Source Note: Cy, DLC-MSS, William F. Fullam Papers, Box 4. Addressed below close: “Admiral W. S. Benson, U.S.N.,/Chief of Naval Pperations,/Navy Department, Washington, D. C.” Document reference: “WFF/F.”

Footnote 1: This letter has not been located.

Footnote 2: For more on the situation in Latin America, see: Benson to Sims, 20 October 1917.

Footnote 3: That is, the Bureau of Navigation, which was responsible for naval personnel.

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