Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Carey W. Cook, Acting Director of Operations, United States Shipping Board, to W. M. Williams, Agent, United States Shipping Board

C O P Y

September 7th, 1918.

Mr. W. M. Williams,

Agent, Shipping Board,

     Cleveland, Ohio.

                        PROTECTION OF LAKE STEAMERS:

Dear Sir:

          Col. Blair1 writes me under date of the 5th as follows:

“This arrangement was made between the Division of Operations and the Office of Naval Intelligence to try to overcome and fix the responsibility for the extraordinary number of accidents which occurred to the thirty-five vessels completed at the various yards on the Great Lakes during the winter while on their trip to the seaboard. This condition has been corrected and as I stated in my letter to Mr. Mallory,2 the Investigation Branch of the Plant Protection Section is now fully equipped to take up and investigate any cases which may arise in the future.”

          I think the letter that Col. Blair refers to as having been written to Mr. Mallory is his of August 17th, from which I quote as follows:

          “I therefore suggest that the agreement with the Naval Intelligence be terminated; and that hereafter when an occasion arises for any investigation or secret service work, the matter be turned over to the Investigation Department of this Section for action and report to the Division of Operations.”

          I think this is in line with what Capt. Thompson3 thought and probably you will follow the suggestion made in Col. Blair’s letter of August 10th, which I also quote:

“I had a talk with Capt. Thompson in Washington yesterday, and he tells me that the conditions then existing have practically been eliminated. I therefore suggest that the Naval Intelligence be thanked for their most valuable services, and be informed that conditions have so changed that their services are no longer necessary. Hereafter, any work of a like nature can be taken care of by the Department of Investigation of the Plant Protection Section.”4

Yours faithfully,            

             /s/ C. W. Cook                 

        Acting Director of Operation

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 520, Box 677.

Footnote 1: Lt. Col. James A Blair, who was detailed from the War Department to organize an Intelligence and Plant Protection Section within the Shipping Board. Hurley, Bridge to France: 93.

Footnote 2: Clifford Mallory, an official with the Emergency Fleet Corporation. Ibid., 41, 48.

Footnote 3: Probably Cmdr. Leon S. Thompson.

Footnote 4: On 9 September, Williams forwarded a copy of this letter to Lt. Edwin L. Reed, the aide for intelligence for the Great Lakes Naval districts, and asked the intelligence work be discontinued and the agents “now aboard the ships complete their present voyages” and then “be discharged.” DNA, RG 45, Entry 520, Box 677. In a letter of 12 September to Capt. Roger Welles, Director of the Office of Naval Intelligence, Reed conveyed the request noting that discontinuing the program would immediately save the expense of “28 agents at fourteen different ship yards, and the one outside agent” and within thirty days the cost of agents “on vessels en route to salt water.” Ibid.

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