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Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to Office of the Chief of Naval Operations

Action Copy.

Cablegram Sent    Sept. 27, 1917.

To     Opnav   Washington.                       Serial No. 687

Via     N C B 15            Prep. by C of S  Appvd. by N.C.T.1

Sent <Sept 27 11:55 PM>    Initials <J.l W.>  File No. <11-10-7>

Copies to: C. of S.; J.V.B.;2

687. In two instances recently convoys bound to St. Nazaire have been badly stampeded and opened fire uselessly on fish or other objects real or imaginary.3 General handling of vessels in convoys most unsatisfactory and condition requires instant remedy to avoid probable disaster. I strongly recommend that a competent Naval Officer of suitable rank be detailed to the command of each Army transport and supply ship with full authority to control movements of vessel under all conditions and that such instructions be issued as will prevent confusion and erratic movements of vessels in the presence of supposed danger and check indiscriminate use of battery against imaginary enemies. Unless prompt measures of this general character are adopted and vessels in convoys brough<t> under strict discipline disaster is inevitable.


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

Footnote 1: “C of S” was Sims' Chief of Staff, Capt. Nathan C. Twining.

Footnote 2:  “J.V.B.” was Sims’ aide, Cmdr. John V. Babcock.

Footnote 3: One of these incidents took place 20 August 1917 off Belle Île. A convoy of five troopships scattered and opened fire when a periscope was supposedly spotted. See, Chauncey Shackford to Albert Gleaves, 10 October 1917, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B.

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