Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Admiral Henry T. Mayo, Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet, to Office of the Chief of Naval Operations

Translation1                         <September 6, 1917->

From:           Admiral Mayo

  To:           Opnav,

#461  Conference completed after agreement upon following points stop.2 FIRST that close offensive in German waters should be carefully considered by Allies after which they should indicate to British Admiralty contribution of old war ships they are prepared to furnish should such offensive appear pr acticable3 comma SECOND that alternative offensive employing effective mine field or mine net barrage to complet ely shut in North Sea not practicable until adequate supply satisfactory type mines assured and that pending such supply extension present system mine field desirable and that mine net barrage impracticable4 comma THIRD that desirable offensive measures against enemy submarines in North Sea while attack submarine bases comma mining submarines FOURTH that measures desirable for adoption against enemy submarine cruisers were decoy ships accompanied by submarines comma prevent establishment enemy submarine bases oversea comma all vessels including friendly neutrals comma development radio warning system and intelligence center in Azores also that possibly necessary to use large cruisers or even battleships to safeguard convoys  FIFTH that establishment convoys for both outward and inward trade from Europe should be universal and that more escort ships even battleships would be necessary SIXTH that convoy system should be established on Mediterranean and that details of convoys arrangements worked out by conference committee be referred to Allied council now sitting Malta for consideration SEVENTH that barrage of OTRANTO should be protected comma England agreed to maintain three destroyers on patrol duty at night provided that Italians and French maintain equal number.

EIGHTH that offensive measures against enemy bases in Adriatic should be carried on continuously comma Italian Admiral5 stated in general terms difficulties attending measures other than air raids mining operations and submarine pickets.

NINTH that as Russia now has made free port in Kola Bay British Admiralty would consider request of Russian Admiral6 that at least twelve armed trawlers patrol entrance Kola Bay throughout winter.

TENTH Italian Admiral desired to state list of materials from United States and emphasize delay experienced in delivery on orders already placed comma to which Admiral Mayo agreed to make representation to Navy Department for purpose of expediting material desired but suggested that further material assistance desired by Italy be taken up through usual channels comma discussion arose regarding more destroyers in Mediterranean and First Sea Lord7 stated that if United States destroyer program resulted in relief of British destroyers from present duties no doubt additional British destroyers would be sent to Mediterranean for Anti-submarine work or trade protection.

Committee on subject measures against enemy submarine cruisers recommended:

FIRST Increased vigilance to obtain notice of presence enemy vessels.

SECOND Steps taken to make representation in neutral countries for preventing enemy vessels using territorial waters.

THIRD that after securing consent Portugal following steps taken regarding Azores:

One, United States naval force based there; Two, British Intelligence center established there; Three, British directional radio station and also British long distance radio station established there during the war; Four, all above under general direction Senior United States Naval Officer.

          During day Italian Admiral asked whether in view of United States destroyer program Italy might hope to purchase some destroyers from United States.

          French Admiral8 suggested that United States seriously consider sending some older type battleships to Mediterranean releasing French Italian ships whose personnel would thereby be available to man cruisers now not manned and such cruisers employed in extension of convoy system. French Admiral called specially this evening Wednesday to express French Government’s anxiety about transportation landing and supply of American troops for service in France also renewed request that this matter be made subject early conference. Message ends. 09006

Mayo

Trans- Op 19 and 28

Page ONI9

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. There is an identification number in the top right-hand corner: “IL 384.”

Footnote 1: “Translation” means this message was sent in code and what is here is the deciphered version.

Footnote 2: For a detailed discussion on how the conference arrived at these recommendations, see: Mayo to Josephus Daniels, 8 September 1917.

Footnote 3: The United States Navy later informed the British that they thought this idea “impracticable.” Minutes, Admiralty Operations Committee, 20 November 1917, Anglo-American Naval Relations: 98.

Footnote 4: The United States Bureau of Ordnance had developed a new mine, the Mark VI, which was just going into production. Still, Crisis at Sea: 429.

Footnote 5: VAdm. Lorenzo Cusani-Visconti.

Footnote 6: VAdm. Mikhail A. Kedrov.

Footnote 7: Sir Eric C. Geddes.

Footnote 8: VAdm. Ferdinand de Bon, CHief of the French Naval Staff.

Footnote 9: That is, Office of Naval Intelligence.

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