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Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels Circular Letter




To:  Commander, Cruiser Force,1

     Commanding Officers of Navy Transports,

     All Bureaus,

     Commandants, Navy Yards, Boston,

                              New York


SUBJECT:  Navy transports-Malicious attempt[t]s to damage vessels and equipment.

     1.   Information has reached the Department from several sources which indicates that there are among the workmen engaged in the work on Navy transports, enemy agents or other malicious person who are avoiding detection of their attemp<t>s to inflict damage to the machinery and equipment of the vessels on which they are engaged. All these vessels are now either in commission or have commissioned and enlisted personnel assigned ready for commissioning soon.

     2.   Rigid inspection of all machinery at the time of assembly, and constant supervision of the work and the workmen can prevent further occurrences of the kind reported; and the Department impresses on all persons of the Naval establishment, military and civilian, their responsibility in detecting all attempts to inflict damage.

     3.   Instances already reported refer to fires, tools and pieces of metal in engine cylinders and valves, and weakening of boat falls by acid. While there may be further attempts to inflict damage, the Department expects that such close supervision of the workmen, members of the crew, and others who may be allowed on board, will in future be exercised, that any attempts to damage the ships, their machinery or equipment will be frustrated.3

Josephus Daniels (Signed)    

Source Note: Cy, RG 45, Entry 517B. Notation at top of page: “(Copy).” Identification numbers: [Int]-1-ML 9/5/28761-Sl:35.” Below close is the notation: “Copies to: Chief of Staff,/Construction Officer,/Engineer Officer,/Commanding Officer, U.S.S.Mt.Vernon,/Commanding Officer, U.S.S.Covington,/Commanding Officer, U.S.S.America.”

Footnote 1: RAdm. Albert T. Gleaves.

Footnote 2: The commandants were: Boston, Capt. William R. Rush; New York, RAdm. Nathaniel R. Usher; Norfolk, RAdm. Walter McLean.

Footnote 3: While there were instances of German sabotage in the United States (such as the destruction of Black Tom Island, N.Y., the fire at Kingsland, N.Y., munitions factory, and the explosion at Mare Island Naval base, all of which occurred before the United States entered the war), attempts to damage or destroy Navy transports either did not occur or were not effective.

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