Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Rear Admiral Hugh Rodman, Commander, Battleship Division Nine, to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters

[Extract]

U.S. NAVAL FORCES OPERATING IN EUROPEAN WATERS

                    Battleship Division Nine

UNITED STATES ATLANTIC FLEET

U.S.S.NEW YORK, Flagship.

26 October 1918.   

From:  Commander BATTLESHIP DIVISION NINE.

To  :  Force Commander.      

Subject:  General Report; Week ending 26 October 1918.

     . . . 3.  INFLUENZA EPIDEMIC.

          Influenza is epidemic in the GRAND FLEET; the ARKANSAS with over 230 cases, and the WYOMING with less than 10 are in strict quarantine. To date it is of a mild form. Every precaution is being taken to prevent and eradicate it.

          There is every reason to believe that the ARKANSAS became infected by quartering a draft of men on her, which came from the LEVIATHAN, a badly infected ship. These men were sent to a northern base for further transfer, and were accommodated on the ARKANSAS, pending the departure of the vessel in which they were to take passage.

          Recommendation:

          That in future, when drafts of men are sent to the DIVISION, who came from infected areas or ships, that they be sent to Strathpeffer, Leith, or some other Naval Hospital, until the danger of infection to others has been passed.

     4.   LEAVE.

          All leave of absence involving travel has been stopped on account of influenza. . . .

     6.   OFFICES, COMPARTMENTS, SLEEPING SPACE:

          The Division Commander is deeply impressed with the inconsideration that is shown the enlisted personnel, on these ships in particular, and all of our ships in general, in reference to the inadequacy and crowded condition of their sleeping and living spaces. The best and airiest space, such as the gun deck, is largely taken up with offices galore, workshops, laundries, provision store rooms, wash rooms, for all sort of ratings;  etc., while the men are packed like sardines in a tin, two or three deep, at times, in close poorly ventilated berth deck compartments.

          It seems that whenever some new office or space is thought to be needed, that the air[i]est and best space on the gun deck is taken from the men, that the occupants may have the benefit of the light and air during the working hours of the day, no matter how much it may encroach upon the small proportion now assigned to the crew, and cause just so many more additional men to find sleeping billets on the already overcrowded berth deck.

          We are constantly discussing sanitation, disinfection, precautionary measures for preventing disease, etc., but to my mind we neglect the most important; namely, insuring sufficient and well ventilated sleeping accommodations for the crew.

          It should be remembered that for the last ten months, since this Division has been operating with the Grand Fleet, that in order to darken ship it is absolutely necessary to interfere with even the ordinary ventilating and fresh air supply, thus adding to the unsatisfactory condition which previously existed.

          In making a careful study of these ships I would strongly recommend structural changes, when the opportunity arrives of:-

          (a) Making an all but clean sweep of every office,                   storeroom, workroom, and utility now installed on               the gun decks possible, placing it elsewhere, and              turning it (the gun deck) into the main sleeping                 and messing space.

          (b)  Combining all offices without an exception into                  the same space or locality, segre[g]ating the                   commissioned from the enlisted personnel.

          (c)  Combining workshops in one general compartment, at               least those that are now on the gun deck.

          (d) Install as many as possible of the utilities now on              the gun deck elsewhere.

          (e) Give sleeping space to the crew the first                       consideration; other installations to be considered              secondary.

              I believe that if these recommendations receive consideration and be carried out, that they will not only add to the health, happiness and contentment of the crew, but will automatically add to the efficiency of our ships. . . .

(Sgd.) Hugh Rodman.          

Source Note: DTS, DNA, RG 45, Entry 520, Box 381. Document identifier at top of first page: “File 7” and “1.L.” Running head at the top of each but the first of the four pages: “.B.D. 9, file 7, 26 October 1918 – Subject: General Report; Week Ending 26 October 1918.”

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