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Captain Richard H. Leigh, Operations-Antisubmarine Section, Staff of Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to Captain Nathan C. Twining, Chief of Staff to Vice Admiral Sims


U.S.S. Melville, Flagship.     

30, Grosvenor Gardens,

London, S.W.1.

Reference No.  O.4.                         7th October, 1918.

Memorandum for Chief of Staff.

SUBJECT:  Submarines for operating in European Waters.

  1.      Before Lieut. Comdr. Daubin1 left for the United States, I had quite a long talk with him in regard to his experience over here with our submarines. For about two years before his present duty on the staff of Rear-Admiral Robison,2 Daubin was in the Bureau of Steam Engineering and had the submarine desk.

  2.      Daubin is strongly of the opinion that we should have additional submarines from the United States sent to these waters. I asked him to talk with Captain Schofield3 about it, and I believe he went into the matter quite thoroughly with him. It seems to me that the following points should be brought to your attention:-

(a)  No enemy submarines have as yet been sunk by the A.L. submarines, although numerous contacts with enemy submarines have been made which have undoubtedly defeated his mission and affected his morale.

(b)  The personnel of the A.L. class submarines are becoming thoroughly trained and expert in this particular use of submarine versus submarine and Daubin, who went on a cruise with them, feels confident that it is only a matter of time until contacts with enemy submarines will result in sinkings.

(c)  Up to the present time the A.L. class of submarines have been greatly handicapped by inferior periscopes, but this material inefficiency is now being overcome.

(d)  In addition to active operation against enemy submarines, the A.L. submarines have been of valuable assistance in the training of personnel of Submarine Chasers and Destroyers in the use of listening devices, and as the number of the installations of these devices continues, the necessity for additional submarines will increase.  

  3.      It seems to be an established fact that submarines can be most effectively used against submarines. It is believed that the following principles hold:-

(a)  Any given area can be kept clear of enemy submarines by occupying that area with our own submarines.

(b)  Enemy submarines proceeding to their various operating areas via the northward and westward of Ireland must, on account of the distance involved, navigate on the surface.

  4.      In connection with (a), the experience of British submarines as well as that of our own has been that as soon as the enemy learns from contacts made and sinkings that an area is patrolled by allied submarines, that area is immediately avoided by the enemy. The enemy knows that, while submerged or running on surface, his presence is revealed by means of our listening devices and whenever he comes to the surface, he can readily see whether any surface vessels are in sight, but, of course, one of our submarines patrolling in the area, if submerged or partially submerged, could very likely escape his attention: thus giving our submarine an opportunity to torpedo him.

  5.      In connection with (b), after consultation with a number of officers now on board of our submarines, Daubin is of the opinion that the enemy route to his operating area to the northward and westward of Ireland can be practically closed, necessitating a much larger detour than is at present being made.

  6.      Of course, in order to accomplish what Daubin suggests, it would be necessary to assign a large number of submarines to this duty, and he is strongly of the opinion and tells me that practically all the submarine officers agree with him, that we should, as soon as possible, increase our submarine force in these waters. He also feels confident that the Commander of the submarine force has repeatedly stated that it is his policy and desire to send as many submarines over here as can operate effectively. In consideration of what is now available, it would appear that the following gives a conservative estimate:-

(a)  8 “O” class submarines now available.  

(b)  6 “R” class will be ready within a short time, and before the first of the coming year, another division of “R” class submarines could be made ready.

(c)  A division of “S” submarines with an additional division of “R” submarines should be available by March.

  7.      Daubin is also of the opinion that Admiral Benson4 will look favorably upon the detail of additional submarines to these waters. I do not know just upon what he bases this opinion, but he seems quite positive about it.

  8.      In view of Daubin’s attitude in regard to this matter and that of the officers commanding the submarines, I have placed this memorandum before you for consideration as I personally consider that if additional submarines can be brought to this side, it would greatly assist in our offensive against enemy submarines.

(S.) R.H.LEIGH.         

TDS, DNA, RG 45, Entry 520.

Footnote 1: Lt. Cmdr. Freeland A. Daubin joined the staff of the Chief of Naval Operations on 21 October 1918.

Footnote 2: Capt. Samuel S. Robison, Commander, Submarine Force.

Footnote 3: Capt. Frank H. Schofield, a member of Sims’ Planning Section.

Footnote 4: Adm. William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations.

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