Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations
CABLEGRAM SENT October
25 <24>, 1918. Y-37.
To Opnav Washington. Serial No. 7955.
Prep. by CS NCT SX
S E C R E T.
7955. Your 31541 my 7186.2 After further study of this matter and consideration of proposals put forward at Paris Conference and proposals originating in British Admiralty submitted for my information and comment, I desire to submit the following as a complete statement of the Naval Terms recommended for inclusion in the terms of any armistice concluded with the Central Powers:
One: Enemy submarines to cease hostilities immediately upon the signing of the armistice.
Two: Enemy to lay no mines outside his own territorial waters during the armistice. Allies to have the right to continue laying mines outside of enemy territorial waters.
Three:Enemy to do no mine sweeping outside his own territorial waters. Allies to be free to sweep up mines anywhere except in enemy territorial waters. Enemy to disclose the location of all mine fields laid by him outside his own territorial waters.
Four: Allies blockade and restrictions on sea-borne commerce to continue as at present.
Five: Allied naval vessels to be employed outside enemy territorial waters in any desired manner not involving actual attack on enemy territory, vessels, or property.
Six: The same restrictions and privileges to apply to our own aircraft as to naval vessels.
Seven: Enemy naval forces to evacuate:
(a) All ports and coasts of neutral, occupied or Allied countries.
(b) All ports and coasts of disputed territory which, by the terms of the armistice, military forces are to evacuate including
(c) The coast and ports formerly included in the Empire of Russia.
Note: Coasts and ports of countries in categories (b) and (c) not to be occupied by the Allies during the Armistice.
Eight: No damage of any kind to be done by the enemy to any of the evacuated coasts or ports before evacuation, and no military stores, munitions or provisions to be destroyed or to be removed before evacuation.
Nine: All enemy naval surface craft of all classes shall withdraw for the duration of the armistice to enemy waters or bases as follows:
(a) Enemy vessels now in the North Sea, Baltic or German home ports to the German Baltic ports.
(b) Enemy vessels in the Mediterranean, Adriatic, Aegean and adjacent waters, except the Black Sea and its tributaries, to Austrian Adriatic ports.
(c) Enemy vessels in the Black Sea and its tributaries to remain in that sea.
(d) Vessels formerly belonging to Russia and now in the possession of the enemy to be surrendered to the Allies at such place or places and under such conditions as may be prescribed by the Allied Commanders-in-Chief in the North Sea and Mediterranean.3 No damage of any kind to be done to these vessels by the enemy before surrender. Final disposition of these vessels to be determined by the Treaty of Peace.
Ten: All enemy submarines, excepting only such of those under construction as are not yet launched, to be interned in Allied ports for the duration of the war. Final disposition of these to be determined by the Treaty of Peace.
Eleven: All enemy naval aircraft to be concentrated at enemy bases s pecified by the Allies, and to remain there during the armistice.
Twelve: All naval and mercantile marine prisoners in enemy hands to be returned in the shortest possible time without reciprocity, and authorization to be given by the enemy for the immediate release of naval and mercantile marine prisoners of the Allies and of the United States, interned in neutral countries.
Thirteen: The merchant ships of all nations at war with Germany now in enemy control to be handed over to the Allies without reciprocity in ports or bases to be specified by the Allies.
Fourteen: All the above measures to be executed in the shortest possible time.
Fifteen: In the above numbered proposals, whenever the work [i.e., word] “Allies” or its derivatives is used, it should be interpreted to include all those Powers now actively associated in the war against the Central Powers.4
Copy of this cablegram furnished to Admiral Benson.5 204524 7955.
Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. The handwritten date is confirmed by the time/date notation at the end of the message. This copy is printed on a form, and the heading material appears on all subsequent pages.
Footnote 1: See, William S. Benson to Sims, 15 October 1918, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B.
Footnote 2: See: Sims to Opnav, 16 October 1918.
Footnote 3: Adm. Sir David Beatty, Commander-in-Chief, British Grand Fleet; VAdm. Sir Somerset A. Gough-Calthorpe, Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Fleet.
Footnote 4: The final armistice terms included everything Sims recommended, often using the exact wording used in this cable. https://www.firstworldwar.com/source/armisticeterms.htm, accessed 18 October 1918.
Footnote 5: Adm. William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations.