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 Rear Admiral Herbert O. Dunn, Commander, Azores Detachment

CABLEGRAM SENT

To:  Senafloat, Ponta del Gada.             October 22, 1918.

SECRET.

1353.  Department desires to be prepared to send seaplanes to Europe by air. First flight may be undertaken next May.1 Route under consideration is from Newfoundland to the Azores, thence to Portugal. Landing places desired in the Azores, one as far west as possible and another in one of the Eastern Islands. These landing places should afford sufficient water for safe maneuvring of F-5 type seaplanes with maximum load, sufficient depth of water for a destroyer or sea-going tug, and cable or long distance radio communication. Horta and Ponta del Gada appear to fulfill these requirements. Please investigate thoroughly and, if practicable, submit definite recommendations together with detailed descriptions and such photographs as would assist in identification from seaward. This entire project will be considered absolutely secret. Your recommendations together with photographs should be sent to Navy Department and copies to this office.

          Sims.

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

Footnote 1: A Curtiss flying boat commanded by Lt. Cmdr. Albert C. Read succeeded in crossing the Atlantic in May 1919, and did stop in the Azores en route (three other flying boats failed to complete the journey). The primary site chosen by the Navy was located at Ponta delgada, but due to extremely heavy fog, Read put down at an emergency stopping point at Horta instead. Although Read’s journey was historic as the first transatlantic flight, a British plane crossed the ocean without stopping only 19 days later. For the full story, see, Richard K. Smith, First Across! The U.S. Navy’s Transatlantic Flight of 1919 (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1973.

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