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Memorandum from the First Lord of the Admiralty Sir Eric Geddes



Memorandum by First Lord.

     With reference to the forthcoming visit of myself and the A.C.N.S.2 to America, it is, I think, extremely desirable that the subjects which we are proposing to discuss should beexhaustively considered and discussed by the Operations Committee, with the Controller3 present, prior to our departure, upon carefully compiled details and data which would be before the Operations Committee and which we would take with us.

     In addition to a considerable number of subjects of importance, but still not great matters of principle, which the A.C.N.S. will take with him and which may be called of day-to-day executive import, and which as far as may be necessary I can discuss with him on the voyage, it appears to me that the visit which we are making to the States, apart from its official and ceremonial character, is with the object of –

     Firstly, a general discussion on the Naval Situation with a view to bringing home to the United States Navy Department and its Government generally, the magnitude of our effort compared with the effort which the Americans have so far been able to put into the Naval war. A good deal of data exists on this point which has been compiled for various purposes from time to time, and I think that probably the Director of Statistics4 will most conveniently be able to put up a comprehensive Memorandum dealing with this aspect of the question for the Operations Committee.

     The Second point is the allocation by America of her forces which are about to be commissioned, so as to give us in these Waters and in the Mediterranean the necessary increase of forces on the lines considered desirable by the British Naval Staff. This has already been prepared, but the basis upon which the figures are arrived at – which must primarily be calculated upon the amount of naval activity and escorting to be done – have not, so far as I know, been placed before the Operations Committee, and I think it is desirable that they should be set out in great detail, presumably by the Director of Plans.5

     The third point is the building programme for the future, and our request to the United States that they might develop a constructional programme of mine-sweepers, offensive mine-layers, and possibly the new type of ocean escort ship which we have discussed but upon which so far, I believe, there has been no decision. It was arranged that we should take with us, for the information of the United States Naval Authorities, the considered views of the British Admiralty on this matter together with plans and drawings of any craft which we suggest to them they should forthwith arrange to lay down, it being understood that the time has arrived when their Yards will be asking for new orders. Presumably the Director of Plans and the Controller will jointly be able to supply the Operations Committee with full memoranda on this point.

     The fourth point is the question of compensation by the Navy Department to the British Admiralty for work done in our Naval Shipbuilding Establishments in refitting of their destroyers and other craft in these waters, which it was proposed should be made by a transfer <by the Americans> as between two Navies of five Oilers up to the end of this year, and thereafter onf some other type of craft; this to be calculated on a basis of man-power involved, and payment to be made for the actual vessels provided and for the actual work done in refits in this country. A Memorandum on this point should be before the Operations Committee with all the arguments and the basis of calculation upon which we arrived at the transfer of five Oilers to the end of this year, and moreover a forecast for next year with the request of the British Admiralty as to the form in which compensation should be made. This is a matter upon which the Controller would, I think, be best able to prepare a Memorandum, with the Director of Plans, although if the compensation is to be in Oilers or other auxiliary craft, the 4th Sea Lord’s6 opinion would be essential.

     The fifth item, which has arisen recently, and which I think we ought to discuss, is the subject of the Memorandum which it was agreed at the last Maintenance Committee should be prepared to review in detail the submarine situation together with the income of material, guns for armament of merchant ships, etc. etc. It may be that that memorandum, which ought to be ready before the Operations Committee meets, would servey all the purposes which I and the A.C.N.S. would require, but in any event I think that all the possible data as to the submarine situation, looking forward to 1919 and 1920, should go with us, including anything in the way of forecasts which the Intelligence Department can get. The Controller is presiding over the Committee which is dealing with this matter, and I think it would be most convenient if he arranges to have all the available data and considerations involved ready in a form which can be considered at the next Operations Committee, which I propose to call for Wednesday next.

     The various Memoranda and calculations should be sent as early as they can conveniently be got ready to the Assistant Secretary (Board) for circulation with the Operations Committee agenda in the usual way.

19. 9. 18.               E.G.

Source Note: CyS, UK-KeNA, ADM. 137/655. Addressed below close: “This Memorandum has been sent to:-/1.S.L.[Sir Rosslyn Wemyss]/D.C.N.S.[Sydney Freemantl]/D.I.S.L./A.C.N.S.[Alexander Duff]/Controller./4.S.L.[Hugh Toothill]/Secretary.[Oswyn A.R. Murray]/Asst.Secy.(Board)/D. Plans./D. Stats.”

Footnote 1: Deputy First Sea Lord RAdm. George Hope, R.N.

Footnote 2: Assistant Chief of Naval Staff RAdm. Alexander L. Duff.

Footnote 3: Sir Alan Anderson.

Footnote 4: Director of Statistics Lt. Col. J. G. Beharrell, D.S.O.

Footnote 5: Director of Plans Capt. C.M.T. Fuller, R.N.

Footnote 6: Fourth Sea Lord Rad. Hugh Toothill, R.N.