Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Rear Admiral Hugh Rodman, Commander, Battleship Division Nine, to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters

[Extract]

U. S. Naval Forces Operating in European Waters

                    BATTLESHIP DIVISION NINE   

UNITED STATES ATLANTIC FLEET

U.S.S. NEW YORK, Flagship.

                    [Rosyth, Scotland]

14 September 1918. 

From:     Commander BATTLESHIP DIVISION NINE.

To:       Force Commander.        

Subject:  General Report – Week ending 14 September 1918.

1.    TORPEDO-ROOMS AND TORPEDOES.

      Briefly the situation to date is as follows:

          Our present torpedoes, 7500 yard range, are to be replaced by others of 9000 yard range at once; it is hoped that these may be replaced in turn by others of 12000 yard range, now in the experimental stage. This is probably the maximum range that can be obtained without alteration of our present tubes, 21" x 5M.1

          The Department hopes to be able to supply torpedoes of 21000 yards range, 26.5 knot speed in the near future: to install these our tubes would have to be enlarged to 21' x 21”.

          In the meantime, the following order has been issued to ships of this division:

          “1. As a precautionary measure and safeguard against   flooding, from mines in particular and possibly from      torpedoes, Commanding Officers will, at once, rig shores for     torpedo room bulkheads, and keep them permanently in place or have them ready and at hand, and install air pipes and valves for using compressed air for expelling the water in case of     flooding.

          “2. Those who will handle the compressed air should be   made thoroughly familiar with the installation and      manipulation, to avoid damage of excessive pressure, and to   handle it intelligently.”

     2. TARGET PRACTICE.

          On Thursday, September 12, all of the ships of this division carried out Day Torpedo-Defense Practice in the protected waters of this base, conforming as nearly as possible to the Order for Gunnery Exercises, laying special stress upon the necessity of following battle procedure as nearly as might be practicable. Unfortunately it could not be carried out in the open sea where we might have had some motion.

          Prior to the firing the following order was issued:-

          “1. The efficiency of the secondary batteries of all ships is far below the required standard.

          “2. Too much stress cannot be laid upon the importance     of the secondary battery in action.

          “3. In action the guns should be fired as rapidly as   possible consistent with an organized control. Ten shots per minuteshould probably be attained. No delay should be made      after first salvos for spotting but salvos should follow in      rapid sequence. The importance of obtaining an accurate initial range must be emphasized.

          “4. It is believed that a vast improvement can be made      in rapidity and accuracy of fire of the secondary battery in     all vessels; in fact, the Squadron Commander knows this to be    the case and will expect a great improvement in the coming     practice.”

          In general it was understood that following the first salvo, time would be allowed the spotter to give correction; the remaining salvos to follow as fast as possible, due consideration being given to accuracy.

          The results were as follows:

     NEW YORK shows marked improvement in both volume and accuracy of fire.

     TEXAS shows marked improvement in both volume and accuracy of fire.

     ARKANSAS made a poor showing on one run when using director, due to combination of lack of experience with new installation, and poor control. On one leg, using old methods, without director, she showed a very marked improvement.

     WYOMING unsatisfactory, due to poor control.

     FLORIDA shows slight improvement, but not up to standard.

          While the results of the NEW YORK and TEXAS are very satisfying, the remainder of the ships fell far below the standard that they should have attained.

          In my opinion, too much stress cannot be placed upon the necessity of rapid and accurate fire of the torpedo defense battery under existing conditions, particularly when the enemy has an abundance of destroyers, and will doubtless attempt to use them in a general engagement. With this point in view, a practice combining the main and secondary batteries, both firing at the same time at different targets, is under consideration, and will be carried into effect, if possible.

     3.   DOCKING PROGRAM.

          It has been decided that the DELAWARE will not rejoin this division to make the sixth ship and thus allow one to go home each two months for docking, overhaul and liberty. Five ships will constitute this division, and ships will be docked on this side, as has been already arranged.

     4.   MOVEMENTS OF VESSELS.

          In addition to movements incident to target practice, this division together with the remainder of the Grand Fleet, was under “short notice” for several days in the early part of this week.

     5.   VISIT OF MR. SAMUEL GOMPERS.

          Mr. Samuel Gompers, President, American Federation of Labor, paid an official visit to this ship, and to the Commander-in-Chief, Grand Fleet, on Wednesday, September 11.2 . . .

     7. USE OF INTOXICANTS.

          A copy of an order, issued by the Division Commander, relative to the non-use of intoxicants is appended.3

Hugh Rodman        

Source Note: TDS, DNA, RG 45, Entry 520, Box 381. Document identifiers in top right-hand corner: “File 7” and in left-hand corner: “3/W.” There is also a running head at the top of each page: “C.D.9 [Commander Division 9] – File 7 - 14 September 1918 - Subject: General Report - week ending 14 September 1918.” Distribution list below close: “To: F.Comdr./Copy to: C.B.D.6/File.”

Footnote 1: That is, five meters or 16.4 feet.

Footnote 2: On the reason for Gompers’ visit to England, see: William S. Sims to Josephus Daniels, 5 September 1918. Adm. Sir David Beatty, R.N., was commander-in-chief of the British Grand Fleet.

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