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 Admiral William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations

Information Copy.

Cablegram Sent      Oct 24, 1917.      

To Opnav, Washington.                            Serial No. 1037

Via N C B A 18              Prep by B.A.L. Appvd. by N.C.T.1

File No.           

VERY SECRET

Copies to: B. A. L.

1037. Opnav 726.2 Brest Roads is only French Harbor that can take deep draft transports. I have previously pointed out difficulty handling freight in open roadstead with few available lighters. Freight might be transshipped in small vessels but long delays would follow and it is considered much better to ship all freight direct from U. S. in suitable vessels destined to usual ports.

     The names of transports are not given but I assume they are coaled for round trip. The consensus of opinion is against using VATERLAND as troop transport.3 Her great length makes her better target than smaller vessels. Other vessels listed as transports are not larger than BALTIC and ADRIATIC both of which are carrying our troops.

     For large high speed vessels that require coaling on this side like GEORGE WASHINGTON, AMERICA, MOUNT VERNON, AGAMEMNON should be informed when they are ready and I shall endeavor to get Admiralty to make concession and receive them Liverpool. Vessels of this type should cross in separate high speed convoy and carry no freight for France.4 04524

SIMS.         

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. 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: This document has not been located.

Footnote 3: S.S. Vaterland had been Germany’s largest passenger liner at a length of 950 feet. It was interned in the United States in 1914 and turned over to the Navy in June 1917. It was renamed Leviathan on 6 September 1917. The vessel took a trial cruise to Cuba in November 1917 and in December took troops to Liverpool. The ship made ten voyages carrying 119,000 troops before the armistice in November 1918. DANFS; History of the U.S.S. Leviathan, Cruiser and Transport Forces, United States Atlantic Fleet (Brooklyn, NY: Brooklyn Eagle Press, 1919), 49-50, 56, 62.

Footnote 4: In a message of 2 November 1917, Sims said that the British would agree to landing troops in England if the United States would provide steamers to carry them across the Channel to France. See: Sims to Daniels, 2 November 1917.

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