Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Admiral William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations, to Staff of Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, first cable of the day

 [File No.] 11-2-17

CABLEGRAM RECEIVED  Y-12             <September 26 25, 1918.>

Origin  Opnav Washington                       Ser. No. 2104

Refd- to     DATE

O-1          Oct 5

31 ARD                    CONFIDENTIAL

<Simsadus,>              CORRECTED COPY.

2104 Your 48811 Policy of the Department has been in general opposed to permitting unarmed steamers or sailing vessels to proceed independently into European and north Atlantic waters. Whenever the danger is not considered great for any specific voyage and the cargo is such that it could not materially aid submarine operation or be transported by submarines if captured, it has been deemed advisable to make certain exceptions to this general policy. Thus the War Trade Board in the matter of issuing of bunker licenses has adopted ruling in substance as follows:

     1. No unarmed steamer will be permitted to proceed independently from any port of United States or it’s possessions when her deck cargo consists of wholly or in part of petroleum or its by-products Foodstuffs brass and copper or other similar metals as such when their voyage will necessitate navigating waters north of the latitude of Charlestown S.C.

     2. No sailing vessel will be permitted to proceed from any port of United States of <or> it’s possissiens [i.e., possessions] bound on any voyage to any port of the western coast of Arica north of Dallar [i.e., Dakar] inclusive to any European port to any Mediterranean Sea port or to any port of an island in the Atlantic Ocean east of Longitude 30°west and north of latitude 4° north. The foregoing irrespective of the nature of the cargo.

     3. No sailing vessel will be permitted to sail from any Atlantic or Gulf port of the United States or it’s possessions including sailings from any Pacific port through the Panama Canal bound on any voyage whatsoever when such vessel carrying any quality [i.e., quantity] of petroleum or its by products or foodstuffs as cargo unless such petroleum and its by products and foodstuffs are so stowed in holds of the vessels beneath cargoes of a different nature to make it manifestly difficult for any submarine to remove such petroluum or its by products or such foodstuffs.

     4. No sailing vessel will be permitted to sail from any Atlantic or Gulf port of the United States or it’s possessions including sailings from any Pacific port through

Panama Canal on any voyage whatever with any quantity of brass copper or other similar metals as such. As the result <of> special negotiations the War Trade Board has adopted the following exceptions to the general rule stated xxx above.

          (a) Spanish sailing vessels will be permitted to traverse the danger area en route to Spain provided such vessels are fully loaded with no objectionable cargo as defined in 3 and above.

          (b) Portuguese sailing vessels will be permitted to traverse the danger area en route Portugal provided such vessels are fully loaded with no objectionable cargo as define in 3 and 4 above.

          (c)   Sailing vessels carr[y]ing QUOTE Safe conduct UNQUOTE from the german government will be permitted to sail from United States ports to Cette with cargo destined to Switzerland provided the cargos of such vessels are unobjectionable as defined in 3 and 4 above.

          In all cases where the vessels are permitted to proceed as outlined in the foregoing a condition precedent to the granting of their bunker liscence is that no suspicion whatever is entertained against the masters or the crew of the vessels.

          It is requested that an expression similiar to the above be obtained from inter-allied maritime transport council and communication to the department by cable.

     Sub paragraph “D” Swedish sailing vessels will be permitted to traverse the danger zone en route for Sweden provided such vessels are fully loaded with no objectionable cargoes as defined in 3rd and 4th above.  09205  2104

Benson             

N.B. Corrected by Op 25502

          AM

Sent 6:20 Sept 26, 1918

Recd 10:50 AM Sept. 26, 1918.

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. The handwritten date is confirmed by the time/date notation at the end of the cable’s text.

Footnote 1: Cable has not been found.

Footnote 2: Cable has not been found.

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