Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels

October 11, 1917.           

From:     Force Commander.

To:       Secretary of the Navy (Operations)

 

Subject:      Convoy duty, U.S. Naval Forces based on Brest.

 

Reference (a)      Paragraph 9 of My General Report Oct.1.1917.

 

     1.   Before arrival of U.S. Naval Forces in France the convoys from Brest to Penzance and from Brest to Quilberon and return were escorted by 12 French trawlers of which about two trawlers were assigned to each convoy. On arrival of our forces 12 yachts were added to this duty, with the intention of releasing the 12 trawlers for mine sweeping work. Six of these trawlers have been withdrawn for minesweeping, and 9 U.S. trawlers have been added to the service. At the present time there are a total of 21 U.S. Naval vessels (including trawlers) and and 6 French vessels handling these convoys. It will be notedthat in order to allow for refit, and from the description of the method of handling convoys outlined in reference (a), not more than about 4 escorts can be assigned to each convoy. The following tabulated list is the number of steamers passing in convoy for the month of September:-

SHIPS IN CONVOY.

September     1917.

Date

From Brest to Lizard

From Lizard to Brest.

From Brest to Quilberon.

From Quilberon to Brest.

1

 0

 0

34

10

2

29

11

 1

 5

3

 0

 ?

12

 ?

4

14

 ?

 9

12

5

 0

 5

 5

 9

6

11

 0

 0

 5

7

13

21

17

15

8

 1

 ?

10

 6

9

 0

 7

 7

15

10

32

 9

 1

 7

11

 0

 ?

10

20

12

20

 ?

 1

10

13

33

 ?

 0

 7

14

 0

 ?

 0

 6

15

 0

 ?

23

 1

16

15

 0

 0

23

17

 ?

 ?

 0

11

18

 0

31

 0

 1

19

 0

 ?

 7

 8

20

45

 0

28

 6

21

 6

 ?

16

15

22

 0

 0

 4

 6

23

 0

 0

 3

 7

24

22

29

32

 8

25

 8

 0

 5

12

26

 7

10

10

 3

27

 0

 0

 2

 7

28

18

17

13

 7

29

 0

 0

 1

 ?

30

22

25

24

 3

 

    

    

    

    

 

298

165

277

243

For

29 days

19 days

30 days

28 days

    Average

10

  9

  9

   9

 

It will be seen that in one instance as many as 45 ships passed from Brest to the Lizard in one convoy; By taking advantage of darkness, remarkably good success has been obtained on this crossing and very few ships lost.

     It will be noted from the weekly return of losses that the percentage of loss on the three crossing Penzance to Brest, Portsmouth to Harve and Portland to Cherbourg does not exceed about one-fifth of one per cent.

Wm. S. Sims        

Source Note: CyS, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. There is an identification number at the top of the document: “11-4-5”.

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