Background Material


HyperWar Editor's Note: The following material, although not part of the official History document, was included in the source file as received from the Archives. It is provided here as additional reference.
Memorandum - Recommendation to Vice Admiral Wilson on transfer of Routing and Convoy Division, 13 May 1942
Memorandum - Transfer of Convoy and Routing Division to Commander in Chief, United States Fleet
Publications Handled by FX-37
Chronological Outline of FX-37
History of Development of Convoy and Routing Section of Tenth Fleet - FX-37


13 May 1942

1. It is recommended that the Convoy and Routing Division be transferred to Headquarters of the Commander in Chief.
2. It is recommended that the Naval Transportation Service be not transferred to Headquarters of the Commander in Chief.
3. This recommendation is based on the following:
  (a) Article 663, Navy Regulations, particularly sub-paragraphs 5 and 6 which indicate that the field services of the NTS are operated through the Commandants of the Naval Districts
  (b) The fact that the NTS includes the following functions in addition to operating the merchant vessels under the NTS:
    (1) Liaison with Bureau of Supplies and Accounts regarding shipments of cargo.
    (2) Liaison with Army, War Shipping Administration, Maritime Commission, Coast Guard, Customs Service and Immigration Service regarding sea transportation.
    (3) Inspection and acquisition of non-military type vessels for possible use with characteristic records of those vessels.
    (4) Compiles "Vessels not on the Navy List" (merchant vessels).
    (5) Procures from War Shipping Administration merchant type vessels required for temporary use by the Navy.
    (6) Coordinates matters concerning captured or requisitioned vessels.
    (7) Coordinates Navy's fuel requirements, acquisition and distribution.
    (8) Prepares annual fuel estimates.
    (9) Liaison with Office of the Petroleum Coordinator and other fuel agencies.


Serial:    1194
May 14, 1942.


From: Commander in Chief, United States Fleet
and Chief of Naval Operations.
To: Vice Chief of Naval Operations.
Chief of Staff, U. S. Fleet.
Subject: Transfer of the Convoy and Routing Division to
Commander in Chief, United States Fleet.
1.   Effective 15 May 1942, the Convoy and Routing Division of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations will be transferred to the Headquarters of the Commander in Chief,
2.   There is hereby established (as of 15 May 1942) in the Headquarters of the Commander in Chief, U. S. Fleet under the Deputy Chief of Staff (Operations) a Convoy and Routing Section. This section will have cognizance of all matters relating to the routing and other appropriate control of merchant convoys and shipping.
3.   For the present there will be no change in offices, personnel or functions of the activity concerned.
/s/ E. J. KING,
Flag Secretary.


BUSRA British-United States Routing Agreement.
MER-1 Operating plan for the United States Merchant Ship Control Service.
GIRO General Instructions for Routing and Reporting Officers.
MARI Mercantile Atlantic Routing Instructions.
MACRI Mercantile Atlantic Coastal Routing Instructions.
MPRI Mercantile Pacific Routing Instructions.
UKAR United Kingdom Approach Routes.
MEIRI Mercantile East Indian Routing Instructions.
MEDARS Mediterranean Approach Routes.
MSCI Mediterranean Convoy Instructions.
ICOC Instructions for Commodores of Convoys.
MCI Mercantile Convoy Instructions.
WIMS-I, II, III Wartime Instructions for Masters of Merchant Vessels.
H.O.-224 The "Q" System.


August 1940 Organization of a merchant shipping record office under Ship Movements Division of Naval Operations Op-38.
19 June 1941 Naval Shipping Control in Time of War Organization and Functions, issued by Chief of Naval Operations.
17 October 1941 Routing of American Flag Merchant Shipping issued by Chief of Naval Operations.
18 November 1941 Approved Organization placed in effect, Section 380.
15 December 1941 Principal Shipping Control Plan issued.
7 March 1942 British-United States Routing Agreement approved (BUSRA).
14 May 1942 Coastal convoy system established.
15 May 1942 Transfer Op-38-0 to Headquarters, Commander in Chief, United States Fleet.
1 July 1942 Assumed full responsibility for routing and reporting U. S. Area.
Coastal convoy system extended to Trinidad and Panama.
13 November 1942 Organization of middle Atlantic convoys.
1 January 1943 Extension of convoy system to Bahia.
30 April 1943 Transfer of North Atlantic convoys to British and Canadian Naval authorities.
20 May 1943 Organization of TENTH Fleet and transfer of F-37 to it.
29 June 1943 Reorganization of Pacific merchant ship control authorities.
3 July 1943 Extension of convoy system to Rio.




1.    Based on Article 714, U. S. Navy Regulations and with W.P.N.T.S. as a background, the Merchant Ship Control service has been developed so that full advantage can be taken of the location of enemy submarines and raiders by the combat intelligence section, to divert convoys and ships from known routes to safer ones.

2.    The necessity for such a service, similar to the British "Naval Control Service" and recognized in the original staff conversations recorded in A.B.C.-1 and approved in March, 1941. By this agreement the world was to be divided into two spheres of Merchant Ship Control in place of the worldwide system instituted by the British at the beginning of the war. United States control was to extend over the western half of the Atlantic from about 26° West and the whole Pacific to 100° East. The British Naval Control Service was to continue to function in the U. S. area until such time as the U. S. organization was ready to assume full responsibility.

3.    With our entry into the war, "The Principal Shipping Control Plan, Rainbow No. 5", short title "W.P.S.C. 46", was promulgated by the Chief of Naval Operations, Commander in Chief, and the Sea Frontier Commanders in connection with the control of merchant shipping; agreements with Great Britain, New Zealand and Australia; and general instructions for the operation of the Merchant Ship Control Service.

4.    To administer this organization the Convoy and Routing Section, (38-0), under the Ship Movements Division, Op-38, in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, was organized with the immediate objective of assuming responsibility for the diversion of convoys (then operating to U.K.) in the Western Atlantic area East of the CHOP line (line for establishing the time of transfer of responsibility from one diverting authority to another). Regular convoy diversions under this arrangement were commenced shortly after our entry into the war.

5.    At this time it became apparent that a more detailed agreement as regards the methods of routing and reporting and diverting merchant ship and convoy movements was essential and in February representatives from the Trade Division of the Admiralty and from Canada met in Washington and developed a combined world-wide routing agreement known as the "British-United States Routing Agreement", short title "BURSA", which was approved by the Commander in Chief and concurred in by the Admiralty on 1 March 1942. Under this agreement a common method of routing, reporting, and diverting of convoys and merchant ships was established. This was based on the existing system which was operating satisfactorily after two years of wartime use by the British, and the necessary instructions for the U. S. representatives in the field, "General Instructions for Routing and Reporting Officers", short title "GIRC", was promulgated.

6.    During the spring of 1942 the intensive submarine warfare directed against the East Coast of the United States led to more intensive and rapid developments to combat this enemy threat and as a result this section was transferred on 15 May 1942 to the Headquarters of the Commander in Chief, United States Fleet, as the Convoy and Routing Section, F-37. Immediate action was taken to extend the Coastal Convoy System which had been in operation only as a sporadic development and to increase air protection over all coastal routes under the


direction of the Sea Frontier Commanders. Specific coastal routes were inaugurated in an effort to bring the independent ships as close inshore as possible to make it difficult for the submarines to operate.

7.    Under the direction of the Commander in Chief, the coastal convoys were inaugurated on 1 July 1942 and this convoy system was extended as rapidly as possible southward through the threatened areas in the Caribbean to Trinidad. This system was further extended about October 1942 along the northeast coast of South America to Bahia. These convoys were linked into a scheduled system so that ships joining the convoy were passed along to New York, many of them joining the North Atlantic system to U.K.

8.    In the early stages of our participation in the North Atlantic convoy control system the diversion authority was divided between the Admiralty and Navy Department on their respective sides of the CHOP line. With the increase in British and Canadian escorts available in the Spring of 1943 the control of the North Atlantic convoy system was divided in the same manner between British and Canadian naval authorities except when these convoys are within the limits of the Eastern Sea Frontier where they are diverted by the Commander of that frontier.

9.    Following the invasion of North Africa in November 1942, the middle Atlantic convoy system was organized, moving from New York to Gibraltar. The terminal point at this end was later changed to Norfolk. Additional operations organized under the direction of this section were the high-speed oil convoys from the Caribbean area to U.K. and North Africa.

10.    Escorts for the ocean convoys are provided by the Commander in Chief, U. S. Atlantic Fleet, and for coastal convoys by the Sea Frontier Commanders under the direction of the Commander in Chief. The responsibility of coordinating the convoy assignments with the convoy limitations and the notification of Port Directors of the approved nominations for the composition of the middle Atlantic convoys rests with the Convoy subsection of FX-37. This section consults with the Army, Naval Transportation Service and the War Shipping Administration in an effort to accomodate all vessels which are presented. This section also details the Convoy Commodores for assignments to these convoys.

11.    On 20 May 1943, the TENTH Fleet was organized under the Commander in Chief United States Fleet, in his Headquarters to consolidate all anti-submarine activities in the Atlantic. The Convoy and Routing Section was transferred to this Division without, however, altering its worldwide duties and functions for merchant ship control and became the TENTH Fleet C&R, as Section FX-37.

12.    The routing of independent shipping was undertaken immediately on our entry into the war and as rapidly as possible Routing Officers were detailed to ports outside the continental limits of the United States using O.N.I. personnel. Full responsibility for the routing of independent ships in the U.S. area was assumed by this section on 1 July 1942. By agreement with the Trade Division of the Admiralty the routing directives for all independent, merchant shipping


in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans is under their control while the routing of shipping in the standard overseas routing instructions ("Mercantile Atlantic Routing Instructions", short title "MARI"), which affect this area are referred to the Commander, TENTH Fleet C&R for approval or recommended change before promulgation. Coastal routing instructions ("Mercantile Atlantic Coastal Routing Instructions", short title "MACRI") are excluded from the general agreement and are promulgated by this Section after conferring with, or on recommendation from the Sea Frontier Commanders. The British in the same manner control the coastal routing in the Eastern Atlantic.

13.    The field personnel required for the operations of this section are the Port Directors and Routing Officers in continental United States and in the areas controlled by United States Commanders and there is a gradual change at the present time to separate Merchant Ship Control Service Officers from the O.N.I. personnel and place them as regards detail under the personnel office of the Naval Transportation Service in Naval Operations, except in smaller ports where the additional personnel required over that necessary for O.N.I. is not warranted. About twenty United States Consuls are utilized as Reporting Officers in ports where no naval representatives are available. In certain South American and Russian ports where it has been impossible to arrange for United States Naval representation, Consular Shipping Advisors have been assigned as assistants to the Consuls for reporting purposes.

14.    In accordance with the BUSRA agreement the Navy has retained Routing Liaison Officers in the principal ports under British control for the purpose of contacting American masters in connection with routing and security matters. The British have retained in our principal ports British Routing Liaison Officers for similar work. Officers so assigned in U.K. under COMNAVEU are known as United States Navy Port Officers.

15.    Development of more effective ship control in the Pacific has led to the division of that ocean into areas assigned to the various Sea Frontier and Area Commanders and the system of control which has operated satisfactorily in the Atlantic is now also in operation throughout the Pacific.

16.    Every effort has been made to continue and extend merchant ship control operation in collaboration with the Admiralty so as to standardize the control of convoys and independent merchant ships throughout the world by the issuance of combined operational instructions and directives which will apply worldwide.

17.    In the development of this organization and the system of control, every effort has been made to take full advantage of all the experience gained by both the British and ourselves so as to administer the Merchant Ship Control Service in such a way as to maintain the confidence and interest of the merchant masters, in the successful accomplishment of our missions.


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