THE ATLANTIC FLEET IN THE GREAT WAR
BY HENRY THOMAS MAYO
For nearly three years after the beginning of the war in Europe our country was neutral. The desire of the administration and of the country was to avoid being drawn into the war. And the idea prevailed largely that even should this country be brought into the war, our participation would largely consist of furnishing money and supplies. No one even dreamed of an American army of 2,000,000 men in Europe.
Of course these ideas changed rapidly. Congress, in August, 1916, had passed the three-year programme for increase of the navy, the largest and most costly programme ever considered, and also had authorized a material increase in number of personnel and provided for the development of a naval reserve force. Our entry into the war came too soon after the passage of this navy bill for the service afloat to have felt any of its effect.
The navy had not been asleep nor unmindful of what was going on in the world. On the contrary, the progress of the war abroad was closely followed, every item of information received was carefully considered, and all that the navy itself could do to keep up with new developments was done in the fleet. This was especially so after the sinking of the Lusitania in May, 1915, which indicated that sooner or later we would have to engage in the war. The result was a closer attention to everything pertaining to battle efficiency.