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 Captain Joel R. Poinsett Pringle, Senior Officer Present, Destroyer Flotilla

 

CABLEGRAM SENT  Oct. 13th, 1917.

To   Melvue, Queenstown.1                    Serial No. Q-145

Via  N C B 16 D                                                    Prep. by B.A.L.  Appvd. by

N.C.T.2      

Copies to:     C. of S.; J.V.B.; B.A.L.3

145. Are any orders issued to destroyers relative stopping or lowering boats to assist damaged vessels in presence enemy submarines<?> Data needed for Court Martial at Gibraltar. Please cable reply.4 14115.

     SIMS

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B.

Footnote 1: This was a title for Pringle’s office as commander of the Melville.

Footnote 2: Cmdr. Byron A. Long, a member of Sims’ staff who handled issues relating to convoys and Capt. Nathan C. Twining, Sims’ Chief of Staff.

Footnote 3: Twining, Cmdr. John V. Babcock, and Long.

Footnote 4: Pringle’s reply to Sims has not been found. However, American destroyers did have instructions on this matter from VAdm. Lewis Bayly, R.N. Bayly addressed arriving destroyer captains in May regarding their priorities, warning them against stopping to assist survivors of a submarine attack. He allowed that if “you thoroughly explore the area, and feel sure you are in no danger, it is permissible to pick them up,” but stressed that “you must not risk the lives of your crew to save a few others.” Their first priority was to sink enemy submarines, then to bring their convoys in safely, and finally to “save lives if you can.” Pursuing the submarine therefore took precedence over rescuing survivors. See: Address by Bayly to Captains, 26 May 1917.

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