Captain William V. Pratt, Assistant (Acting) Chief of Naval Operations, to J. O. Heyworth, Manager, Division Wood Composite Ship Construction
<September 11, 1918,>
The receipt is acknowledged of your letter of August 26 addressed to the Bureau of Ordnance and referred to this office, reference to the arming of one hundred of the vessels of your Division.
It is the Department’s understanding that at a conference some months ago, at which were present representatives of the Ship Control Committee, Shipping Board, Emergency Fleet Corporation (Division of Steel Ship Construction and of Wood Ship Construction) and of the Navy Department, it was decided to prepare, but not immediately arm, one hundred of these vessels.
There are at present no guns available for any of these vessels, nor will there be until the larger and more important vessels engaged in the transatlantic and coastwise trades have been taken care of. At such time as guns become available for these vessels and it is decided to arm them, the guns will be provided by the Navy Department at such ports as the guns are available and to the vessels which are then at those ports prepared to receive them. It is indefinite, however, when this will be, but will probably not be in the near future.
Reference your note that the guns were not now being placed on board the vessels at their building yards where it would seem that the work could best be done, attention is invited to the fact that even were the guns available, the Department has at no time been advised which are the one hundred of your vessels so being prepared, at what yards which ones are being built, nor their future allocation of service.
Acting Chief of Naval Operations.
Source Note: CyS, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. Document reference: “Op-24-S/C-1:25/319.” Addressed below close: “U.S.Shipping Board,/Emergency Fleet Corporation,/Manager, Division Wood/Composite Ship Construction/Copies to:BuOrd/Ship.Bd. (Capt.[ J. W.] Munn)/Material (Capt.[David W. ]Taylor).”