Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Captain Hutchison I. Cone, Aide-de-Camp for Aviation, Staff of Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations

5th September, 1918.

From: Force Commander.1

To:   Office of Operations-Aviation,

      Navy Department, Washington, D.C.

Subject:  Conference with French Marine Air Authorities held in Paris at the Ministry of Marine on August 29th, 1918.

     1.   There is enclosed herewith copy of notes on this conference. Particular attention is invited to certain items of the agreement noted below, namely:

     (a)  ITEM 2 – The agreement that the United States will not construct the proposed U. S. Dirigible Station at Rochefort in view of the fact that the French have extended their dirigible facilities at this place. In accordance with this agreement authority is requested to remove this station from the list of those authorized by the Navy Department.

          In this connection the Department is informed that only a small amount of material had been delivered to this Station and construction had not been begun, so no expenditure of funds has been made. Measures will be taken to immediately recede the land to the French. As a matter of fact, sometime ago when the French moved certain of their factory facilities for dirigibles from St. Could2 to their dirigible station at Rochefort, we receded a portion of the land which had formerly been ceded to us, in order that the French might increase their dirigible facilities at this station.

     (b)  ITEM 3 – Information is requested as to the wishes of the Department with reference to the disposal of the additional dirigible ordered for the Rochefort Station. It has occurred to us that possibly the Department would desire to have one of these dirigibles boxed and shipped to the United States to be used on connection with the development of construction facilities for dirigibles at home. In case this is not desired, the dirigible can be held for spare.

     (c)  ITEM 4 – With reference to discontinuance of Dunkerque as a seaplane station, this matter has already been handled by cable and it is presumed that authority will be obtained in the immediate future to change the character of this station.

     (d)  ITEM 6 – Development of the land machine to be used over the water is being closely watched and as soon as a type has been developed that promises good results, the question of establishing a station on Belle Isle will be taken up. The Commander of the U. S. Naval Forces in France3 requested that Belle Isle be investigated with a view to establishing an Air Station thereon on account of its splendid geographical location for this purpose. After repeated investigations it was found that it was completely impracticable for seaplanes on account of the absence of harbor facilities, but that it might be possible to establish a land machine station there, as there are suitable fields for aerodromes on the island.

     (e)  ITEM 8 – This appears to be a very important matter to the French Ministry of Marine in order that they may hurry their program of rigids, and it is believed that it is to our advantage to expedite the completion of the French rigids in order that we may have gained experience and profited by their development work in the construction of our future rigids. The French propose to construct rigids in a hangar they have for the purpose in the south of France, and as soon as it is completed it will be necessary to have other hangars to receive the completed rigids in order that construction of additional ones may be begun. The shortage of steel in France and the great requirements of the Army for this material make it impossible for the French Marine officials to obtain the necessary material and it is thought that if we can lend our assistance, that we can expedite greatly the final completion and commissioning for service of the first rigid dirigible in France. Upon the receipt of schedule of material, it will be promptly forwarded for the information of the Department.

H.I. Cone.         

By Direction.      

[Enclosure]

30th August, 1918.      

NOTES CONCERNING CONFERENCE WITH FRENCH MARINE AIR AUTHORITIES HELD IN PARIS AT THE MINISTRY OF MARINE ON AUGUST 29th, 1918.

          There were present at this conference as members thereof, on the part of the United States Navy:

Captain F[rank]. H. Schofield

Captain H. I. Cone

Captain T[homas]. T. Craven

On the part of the French Navy:

Amiral Salaun

Capitaine de Vaisseau Chauvin

Capitaine de Fregate Stots

The whole question of next year’s Naval Air Policy was discussed and the following conclusions arrived at:

     1.   That with the American and French Stations now existing or in the course of construction, there will be sufficient Naval Air Stations in France. These stations are satisfactorily located.

     2.   The French agree that the United States will not construct the proposed U. S. Dirigible Station at Rochefort as the French have extended their dirigible facilities at this place.

     3.   The number of dirigibles under order from the French for the U. S. Naval Aviation will not be changed. Those ordered for Rochefort to be used as spares or sent to the United States for instruction purposes.

     4.   That it will be agreeable to the French for the United States to discontinue the use of seaplanes at the Dunkerque Seaplane Station and use land machines for anti-submarine purposes at this station.

     5.   That the bombing machines which the French propose to use in the Dunkerque area will be in addition to any bombing machines used by the United States in that area.

     6.   That the use of Belle Isle as a Seaplane Station is not possible and with the present state of development of land machines it is not advisable to establish a land machine Station at Belle Isle.

     7.   The French do not believe that they will require seaplane hulls from the United States, although they desire engines.

     8.   The French would be glad to have U. S. assistance in obtaining materials for the construction of a hangar for a rigid type of dirigible.

Source Note: CyS, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. Identifier “A-2.” appears in the upper-left corner.

Footnote 1: Cone’s title up to 1 September had been Commander of United States Naval Aviation Force Foreign Service.

Footnote 2: This is a mistype of “St. Cloud” a commune in Paris.

Footnote 3: RAdm. Henry B. Wilson.

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