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

Cablegram Sent      20 October 1917.

To Opnav, Washington.                            Serial No. 969

Via N. C. B. 2 I A D R      Prep by B.A.L. Appvd. by N.C.T.1

Sent                     Initials                  File No.

Copies to: C of S., J. V. B., B. A. L.2

969. Opnav 704.3 Very desirable establish convoy Hampton Roads Gibraltar and return. Daily sailings including allied and neutral average 3 to 4 vessels each way. This convoy requires about 10 additional ocean escorts and additional escorting vessels based Gibraltar, none of which are available at present. Full report extensions desired convoy system furnished Admiral Mayo at allied naval conference September.4

          In view of heavy batteries furnished American vessels and of large American trade with Mediterranean recommend regular convoy be established for allied and neutral vessels to sail every 6 days to and from Gibraltar minimum speed 200 miles. There would be required about 8 naval officers, active or retired, to act as commodores and signal men who would return on convoys leaving Gibraltar. Perhaps some protection could be given these convoys vicinity of Gibraltar. Convoys would be exposed to raider attack until ocean escort is available but I believe ships will be safer in submarine zone than sailing singly because they can be warned by radio of position of submarine.5

          As alternative plan, which is not recommended ships might be dispatched from Hampton Roads in groups four to six of similar speed. This practice now being followed in dispatching American ships from Gibraltar. Admiralty authorities concur in foregoing recommendations. Report by mail following.- 05420


Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. Document is an: “Action Copy.” The date code, just before Sims’ signature, is a stamp.

Footnote 1: “B.A.L.” was Lt. Cmdr. Byron A. Long, Sims’ aide who handled convoying issues; “N.C.T.” was Sims’ chief of staff Capt. Nathan C. Twining.

Footnote 2: That is, Chief of Staff. Cmdr. John V. Babcock, Sims’ aide, and Lt. Cmdr. Byron A. Long.

Footnote 4: Adm. Henry T. Mayo, Commander, Atlantic Fleet. For more on the Naval Conference, see: Mayo to Josephus Daniels, 17 September 1917.

Footnote 5: For a fuller discussion of convoys to Gibraltar, see: Sims to Daniels, 19 October 1917.