Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to Commander Wilson Brown Jr., Commander, U.S. Destroyer Parker

21st September, 1918.

From:     Force Commander.

To:       Commanding Officer U.S.S. PARKER.

Subject:  Destroyer Hunts.

Reference:   Commanding Officer U.S.S. PARKER, letter #50-B-655. of 8th September, 1918. [Attached]

     1.   The Force Commander has noted the recommendation made in above reference. Some of the measures recommended in this letter are being carried out, others are not at present practical because of inadequate equipment of many of the destroyers, and because of the necessity of co-ordinating our efforts with those of our Allies.

     2.   All destroyers in European Waters are being fitted with listening equipment as fast as they become available, present installations being installed including the ALLEN, CALDWELL, MANLEY and PARKER. The first three of these are being fitted with blister type MV similar to the WILKES installation, and the PARKER with a new keel type.

     3.   The ALLEN, KIMBERLEY and CALDWELL have been organized at Base 61 into a hunting unit, to operate offensively against submarines whenever they are not urgently required for convoy work. The Force Commander believes that the best results will be obtained by vessels which have operated together for some time, and that this assignment of destroyers to a more or less permanent hunting unit, will produce good results.

     4.   These destroyers have already prepared a doctrine for hunting based on their experience which is of much value. The Force Commander appreciatesn appreciates your paper, and hopes you will keep him informed of any new developments brought out during your experience in hunting.

/s/ R.H. LEIGH.         

By direction.           

[Enclosure]

Destroyer Hunting

     Tactics.             CONFIDENTIAL.

U.S. NAVAL FORCES OPERATING IN EUROPEAN WATERS,

          DESTROYER FLOTILLAS.

               U.S.S. PARKER.

               BASE – 27.

8TH. September, 1918.

From :  Commanding Officer.

To   :  Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Operating in European Waters.

Via  :  Commander, U.S. Naval Base Twenty-Seven.2

 

SUBJECT  Recommend hunt units of destroyers based on Plymouth, Queenstown and Brest, be organized for offensive action against enemy submarines on the High Seas.

Reference: (a) Paragraph 3, Force Commander’s Intelligence Report dated 20 August, 1918.3

  1. A submarine chaser is the most effective type of listening vessel available for offensive action against enemy submarines in smooth water and within a restricted radius from the chaser base. Because of their limited cruising radius, comparatively slow speed, and small size, however, the chaser cannot be counted on for effective action off shore during the winter months, but the destroyer is the best type for off shore operations.

  2. Numerous destroyers might search a comparatively small area independently without ever reaching sight or sound contact of a submarine, but four or more working togethercould be effectually search an area, and upon making contact could so effectually bomb the locality as to make escape doubtful.

  3. It is recommended that when an enemy submarine is known to be operating off shore along the Trans-Atlantic routes, all available U.S. Destroyers be organized to conduct a hunt, whenever the destroyers can be made available for this duty.

  4. The following procedure and doctrine is recommended as a basis for discussion.

PRELIMINARY MEASURES.

1.  Force Commander notifies the Commanders of Queenstown, Plymouth and Brest of probable location of enemy and direct[s] all available destroyers be assigned for hunt.

2.  Queenstown, Plymouth and Brest report the number of destroyers available and date when they will be ready.

3.  Force Commander designates rendezvous and time and date of meeting.

DESIRABLE CHARACTERISTICS OF DESTROYERS DESIGNATED.

1.  Efficient listening gear.

2.  Radio direction finder.

3.  Maximum allowance of depthcharges.

TACTICS DURING HUNT.

1.  From North and south scouting line, five miles interval between destroyers, at northeaster limit of possible position of enemy submarine.

2.  Proceed until dark on westerly course at fifteen knots with three listening periods of five minutes each, according to schedule now in use by submarine chasers.

3.  At night steam on reverse course, speed eight knots, with two listening periods of ten minutes each.

4.  Continue on course west until the western probable position of enemy is reached, then ships left and steam south until the northern destroyer has reached the line formerly worked by the southern destroyer, then ships left and work east, continuing to sweep area in an east and west direction until southern limit is reached.

5.  Should it become necessary to change line of bearing from north to south, the right center unit acts as guide and destroyers proceed by most direct method to their proper positions on new line of bearings.

6.  When contact is made, send out by radio immediately a predetermined message for the sound or sight contact with enemy submarine.

7.  Upon receipt of contact information, all destroyers close as rapidly as possible, (without interfering with listening periods) to three hundred yards distance.

8.  Upon signal to attack from destroyer making contact, destroyers advance on parallel lines and drop signal, double or triple barrage.

9.  Destroyer making contact exercise discretion depending on certainty of ‘fix’, as to whether attack should be made before all destroyers have closed to three hundred yards.

COMMUNICATIONS.

1.  All communications that do not require immediate action by the entire force to be transmitted by Aldis Lamp.

2.  All communications that require immediate action to be transmitted by low power radio.

3.  Use Auxiliary Code (C.B.0764) and Emergency Table ‘J’ (C.B.0724).

4.  Provide additional signals for :-

(a) Have made sound contact with enemy submarine,

(b) Sighted enemy submarine.

(c) Hear enemy submarine on radio, bearing as indicated.

  (d)Observe five minute listening periods every ten minutes.

(e) Attakc.

5.  Provide a system and doctrine for reporting and plotting bearing of enemy as determined by each destroyer: (1) for sound contact; (2) radio direction.

     (Sgd) W. BROWN.

Source Note: D, DNA, RG 45, Entry 520, Box 340. Identification numbers “O-7. 35669./25-6-45.” appear in the top-left corner of the first page, and “1/3/C/J.” appears in the top-right. Further notations “Refer to No. 50-B-655-PWB” and “3/C/J” appear in the top-right corner of Brown’s attached letter. Distribution list below close: “Copies to :-/Melville 1/C.O. Base 27 1./Files.”

Footnote 1: Queenstown, Ireland.

Footnote 2: Cmdr. Lyman A. Cotten. Base 27 was located at Plymouth, England.

Footnote 3: This document has not been found.

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