Our Navy in the Great War
Front Cover, Our Navy's Part in the Great War by John Wilber Jenkins, 1919. GGA Image ID # 184c84ca1d
Based on the Booklet "Our Navy's Part in the Great War" by John Wilber Jenkins, this section organizes the content and supplements the text with additional photographs to help tell the US Navy's story in World War 1.
The growth of the Navy in ships and personnel was phenomenal. When the war began, there were 364 vessels on the naval list, of which 20 were listed as unserviceable for war purposes.
On November 5, the converted yacht Alcedo (SP 166), which had been on almost constant escort duty and had rescued 117 survivors of the Antilles when that vessel was torpedoed, was sunk by enemy submarine while escorting a convoy from Quiberon.
Submarines had been successfully used by the British against enemy U-boats, and in the autumn of 1917, American submarines were sent abroad to co-operate with the British forces.
The Cassin was struck by a torpedo on 15 October 1917 but was taken to port and repaired. But one man was killed, Gunner's Mate Osmond K. Ingram, who gave his life to save the ship.
From the beginning, it was realized by the American naval authorities that Germany could at any time send her submarines across the Atlantic, and patrol vessels in home waters were constantly on the lookout for them.
On April 6, 1917, the day President Wilson, in accordance with the resolution of Congress, declared the existence of a state of war with Germany, Secretary Daniels sent out the order for the mobilization of the Fleet.
By January 1, 1918, there were 113 United States naval vessels across, and in October 1918, the total had reached 338 ships of all classes.
In the war, the Navy was called upon to undertake many novel and untried tasks, but whenever any new and difficult duty was imposed, the entire service, from admirals to apprentice seamen, responded with enthusiasm.
The Naval Overseas Transportation Service, which was organized in January 1918 to carry supplies and munitions to the American forces abroad, grew in ten months to a fleet of 321 cargo-carrying ships aggregating 2,800,000 dead-weight tons.
Secretary Daniels announced in 1917 that the entire war-building program of the Navy embraced nearly a thousand ships. Most of the vessels authorized by the three-year program of 1916 were contracted for early in 1917.