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


COPY OF CABLEGRAM SENT. October 16, 1917.

To:     Opnav, Washington.                      Serial NO.911.

Via: N C B 18 ADR             Prep. by J V B Appvd. By N C T1

Sent                         Initials                  File No.


911. The idea originated in destroyer flotilla to obtain if possible a mystery ship which could be manned by one or two selected men from each d estroyer and parent ships and in which the entire flotilla would feel ownership. As result of discussion Admiralty offers loan their best equipped mystery ship now under repairs, Devonport, as a result last engagement in which submarine was destroyed. Recent Captain of this ship most successful and note Mystery Ship Commander, accounted for three submarines. For which distinguished service medal, promotion to Captain and finally the Victoria Cross awarded.2 Ship at present property of Admiralty known as VITTORIA formerly PARGUST carrying special armament and equipment for Mystery Ship. Admiralty proposes to loan ship and armament we paying the cost of operation. If ship becomes total loss, Admiralty will not expect reimbursement. No legal difficulties seen if Government give authority to fly our colors. Similar exchange of vessels now existing between Britain, French, and Japanese. Urgently request Department’s early approval as vessel ready very soon. Effect flotilla morale will be pronounced. Advise special secrecy.3 11016.


Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. Identification number in top right-hand corner in columnar fashion: “1/3/C/J.”

Footnote 1: Sims’ aide Cmdr. John V. Babcock; Sims’ chief of staff Capt. Nathan C. Twining.

Footnote 2: Capt. Gordon Campbell, R.N., commander of the H.M.S. Dunraven. For more on Campbell’s heroics, see: Joseph K. Taussig’s Diary Entry of 8 August 1917.

Footnote 3: The reply from the Office of Naval Operations has not been found but on 23 November the British gave Vittoria to the Americans, who promptly renamed it Santee. Still, Crisis at Sea, 475; DANFS.