Skip to main content

Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to Captain Lyman A. Cotten, Commander, U.S. Naval Base 27, Plymouth, England


U.S.S. MELVILLE, Flagship. [before 2 September 1918]1

30, Grosvenor Gardens.

London S.W.1. 

FROM: Force Commander.

TO:   Commander U.S. Naval Base 27.

SUBJECT:  Letter of instructions regarding special operations of Sub-Chasers and Destroyers.

     1.   (a) Three enemy submarines, including U-53, are operating in an area about two hundred miles west of Brest, France.

          (b) Fifteen or more British destroyers are operating in an area north of the forty-seventh parallel, North Latitude. Three British destroyers are conducting a hunt in the same general area as is mentioned in paragraph two of this letter. French submarines are engaged in a diving patrol in a part of the area through which vessels of these forces will pass in reaching the area prescribed for their operation.

     2.   It is desired that hunt for the enemy submarines be organized from the forces stationed at Base 27. The hunt is to be conducted in the area bounded by the forty-seventh and forty-ninth parallels of North Latitude and the ninth and twelfth Meridian West of Greenwich. The hunt may be extended to waters outside of this area at the discretion of the Officer in command, should information received or contact made justify such action. The intention is that the hunt shall be conducted as long as practicable, considering the endurance of the vessels employed.

     3.   (a) Two hunting units of sub chasers are to proceed to the hunting ground accompanied by the destroyers WILKES and PARKER. Two additional hunting units of sub-chasers are to be dispatched to Brest to fill up with fuel and proceed to the Hunting ground for the purpose of relieving the first two units at such times as it may be necessary for them to return to port for fuel. Should the prospective endurance of the two destroyers warrant such action, a third pair of hunting units of sub chasers should be dispatched to relieve the second pair.

          (b) It is desired that this operation be initiated as soon as practicable. In order that sub chasers may spend the maximum time in the hunting area it is suggested that the first pair of units be towed by destroyers, if such a measure is found practicable All vessels in proceeding to hunting ground should proceed at an economical speed, so as to spend a maximum amount of time in the hunting area.

     4.   Fuel of sub chasers may be obtained at Brest.

     5.   You will arrange with the Commander-in-Chief, Devonport,2 for the prompt transmission to the Hunting groups of all information concerning the area in which they are operating, which may be useful to them. The Commander, U.S. Naval Forces in France3 will cause information to be sent out from Brest similarly.

     6.   You will issue all necessary instructions to the hunting groups regarding inter-communication and communication with shore stations. Report to Force Commander by telegraph or telephone when the first group leaves the Base.

/s/ WM. S. SIMS.        

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 520, Box 387. Addressed below close: “Copies to:/Commander U.S. Naval Base 27,/Commander-in-Chief, Devonport,/(via Base 27)/Commander, U.S. Naval Forces in France,/Files.” Document reference in vertical form: “1/3/C/D/J.”

Footnote 1: The patrol referred to herein sighted U-53 on 2 September 1918.

Footnote 2: Adm. Sir Cecil Thursby.

Footnote 3: RAdm. Henry B. Wilson, Commander, United States Naval Forces Based in France.

Related Content