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Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to Rear Admiral Thomas S. Rodgers, Commander, Battleship Division Six, Atlantic Fleet

September 25th, 1918.

My dear Rodgers,

          Your letter of the 20th. just received.1 I think you are quite mistaken in supposing that there was any misunderstanding between us and the Navy Department as to the plan that was in operation.2 Their directions were very specific, and it was their original plan that was in operation pending the discussion of the one we proposed. After the exchange of a certain number of telegrams to clear up certain points we received a cable yesterday approving the modified plan.3 The orders for this are now being gotten out and will be sent to you as soon as possible. In the meantime we may be able to send ahead of this a telegram telling you the things that the new plan does not provide for.4 Generally speaking the new plan requires a telegraphic order for is execution.

          We hope some of these days to have enough destroyers based on Queenstown to give you a certain liberty of movement for exercises, target practice, etc., but at present the necessities are such in other areas that the first new destroyers arriving must be sent there. None of our troop transports have escorts of sufficient power at the present time. Many of the vessels going to the westward are still less sufficiently escorted. Valuable supply ships are going through the Mediterranean sometimes two with one destroyer and sometimes with no destroyer at all. Manifestly these necessities must be satisfied first. This question of the distribution of new destroyers is based upon a careful study of the amount of work the destroyers at the various bases are doing and upon the fluctuations of the submarine campaign. There is no guess work or opinion about it. Once a month or so the whole situation is examined and decided upon by the Allied Naval Council. That is what the Allied Naval Council was constituted for.

          You may be sure that we will do the best we can for the Queenstown base.

          As for getting you authority to order courts martial, I think that can be arranged and I will take it up at once.

          We have just received a telegram authorizing Wilson to assume the rank of Vice Admiral.5 We had seen in the Press that he was to be made a Vice-Admiral in command of a section of the Fleet at home and Admiral Mayo6 told me he understood this was to be done. We do not know the meaning of his being appointed a Vice Admiral over here particularly as the British Government officially requested that Rodman7 be given what they call the local rank of Vice Admiral – this latter because most of the rear admirals that command the cruiser squadrons that operate with the battleships squadrons are senior to Rodman. I was told by Admiral Mayo, and he probably told you, that the selection of Wilson to be Vice Admiral was not on the advice of the Navy Department or of the Commander-in-Chief, but was a personal selection of the Secretary.8 Comment is unnecessary.

Very sincerely yours,

S/        W.S.SIMS      

Source Note: Cy, DLC-MSS, William S. Sims Papers, Box 24. Addressed below close: “Rear Admiral F.S.Rodgers, U.S.N./U.S.S.UTAH.” Notation in top left-hand corner of both pages of this two-page letter: “Admiral Sims’/Personal File.” Document identifier: “1/2/C/O/J.”

Footnote 1: Rodgers’ letter has not been found.

Footnote 2: Sims was referring to the plan concerning under what conditions Rodgers’ division of battleships would sally to counter German surface raiders.

Footnote 4: Neither this cable nor the preliminary notification Sims mentioned in the previous sentence have been found.

Footnote 6: Commander-in-Chief of the Atlantic Fleet Adm. Henry T. Mayo. Wilson was not selected to command the Atlantic Fleet until June 1919. Daniels, Cabinet Diaries: 419.

Footnote 7: RAdm. Hugh Rodman, commander of the USN battleship division serving with the British Grand Fleet, was not promoted to Vice Admiral. Naval Register: 1919.

Footnote 8: Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels.

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