Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Intelligence Section, Staff of Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, Information Bulletin Number 219

U.S. Naval Forces, European Waters

London  -  England.

25 September 1918. 

INFORMATION BULLETIN NO. 219.

  1.  Experience with listening devices, particularly on sub-chasers, is presenting interesting developments all of which show the necessity of a peculiar and particular character of training for the men who use the devices. It has been found that many peculiar sounds are heard at sea, which only experienced and trained men can distinguish. For example: rapping noises which undoubtedly come from some form of animal life; reflected noises which originate in tide rips, rocks and wrecks; noises from fish, an[d] so forth. In the vicinity of the Scillies, tide rips have been found which travel like the feather of a periscope accompanied by noises with a result that ships are misled into thinking that they both hear and see a submarine. Schools of porpoises have been heard, which sound like children talking and crying, or like the bark of a dog. Recently xxxxxx a sub-chaser unit followed a whale. Some of the listeners were quite certain that the noise heard was a submarine, while others more experienced recognized it as a whale. A unit of sub-hcasers in the Straits of Otranto encountered a school of black fish, and while in their vicinity the listeners distinctly heard the “mechanical tapping sounds” received by sub-chasers in the Atlantic as well, and which had previously been attributed to possible signalling between enemy submarines.

  2.  During a hunt lately by U.S. sub-chasers, an excellent demonstration took place of the use of detection devices (in this case a “C” tube) in connection with scouting. The listener heard, and definitely stated, that a convoy was approaching on a certain bearing, although nothing was in sight in that direction. Half an hour later, smoke was sighted, and eventually 2 steamers escorted by 2 destroyers appeared over the horizon. This convoy must have been located at a distance of at least 25 miles.

  3.  A U.S. sub-hcaser recently intercepted a message in plain German which, translated, read “Keep quiet, do not move”.

  4.  During operations of enemy submarines off the United States coast, a group of sub-chasers returned to port reporting that they had attacked with gunfire and depth charge, and probably sunk 2 submarines, preventing them from attacking a convoy. It was ascertained some time later that the attack was on the towing spars of a convoy in a fog, and that two of the buoys had been destroyed.

  5.  Lt. Commander C J Moore has been detached from command of USS DOWNES to return to the United States for duty as Commanding Officer of a new destroyer.

     Comdr Alexander Sharp has assumed command of USS DOWNES.

     Lt Comdr G C Dichman has assumed command of USS CONYNGHAM.

     Lt Comdr W B Lent has been detached from Base Seven to command USS WEST ALSEK.1

     Lt. E J Madden has assumed command of USS LAKE ARTHUR.2

     Lt. N A Johnson has assumed command of Sub-chaser No. 260.

     Lt. L W Gumz has assumed command of Sub-hcaser No. 100/

     Lt (JG) C Knott has assumed command of Sub-chaser No. 99.

Force Commander’s Office     

Intelligence Section.   

Source Note: TD, DNA, RG 45, Entry 520, Box 337.

Footnote 1: Base Seven was Brest, France. West Alsek was a cargo ship.

Footnote 2: U.S.S. Lake Arthur was one of the “Lake” boats that transported coal from Cardiff, Wales, to France for the American Expeditionary Forces.

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