German Navy Tactical Orders

(source: Public Record Office ADM 186/55: CB1548 German Navy Tactical Orders)

Commander-in-Chief High Sea Fleet

9th April 1918

Gg. 2278 A1.

Alterations and Additions No. 48.

Most Secret

Tactical Order No. 1.

The Method of Screening the Fleet When Under Way
and the Formation of the "Look-out Arcs"

I. As a result of experiences which we have had up to the present the following orders are issued as a supplement to S.A. VI, Part II, paras. 37 and 38a and 6th Part - "Screening the Fleet when under way".

(1) When light craft (day or night) are not allocated as advance, flank, or rear guards, but are stationed at a given distance in a sector within which they are to screen or to scout for the main body, the Squadron, Scouting Group, Flotilla, appointed for such screening or scouting shall be distributed evenly in Pairs, Groups, or Half-Flotillas, as ordered, in the sector indicated. The positions on the look-out arc are laid down in S. A. VI, para 38a, namely, the cruiser (Destroyer, Pair, Group or Half-Flotilla) belonging to the left wing will take up the position indicated by the first bearing and distance, and the cruiser belonging to the right wing will take up the position indicated by the second bearing and distance.

If the disposition of the ships of the squadron is other than that of the sequence of their Fleet numbers, the senior officer of the squadron will expressly say so.

If several squadrons are told off to the screen, each squadron is allocated to a sector by means of bearings and distances.

(2) If no limiting bearings are given, the whole 360 deg. are to be occupied. The course of the main body is then to be taken as the initial bearing. In this case the positions of the ships on the screen will be such that the ship having the lowest Fleet number will be stationed on the initial bearing, and the remainder disposed clockwise in the sequence of their Fleet numbers, at equal distances round the whole circle.

(3) Bearings are to be taken from the centre of the main body, but distances from the nearest ship of the main body.

(4) If any of the special cruisers, for instance, Flotilla cruisers, are required to look out or to screen on special bearings, this will be expressly stated.

(5) When ships are spread on such a screen or look-out arc, any alteration of course carried out by the main body without preliminary signal is to be conformed with by a turn together. The compass bearing of the main body will thus remain unaltered. The cruisers, etc, which as a result of the alteration of course will be astern of the main body, must bear in mind the time taken by the latter to complete its turn, observing that ti may extend over several miles. Alterations of course previously arranged by signal or order are to be carried out by a turn in succession. The ships on the outer arc must calculate the time at which to move off to their new positions.

(6) If the day and night screens are at different distances, the alteration from one to the other must be carried out independently by each unit of the screen in the twilight. If the screening of the main body is ordered at visibility distance, the distance must be continually varied according to the visibility.

(7) Examples of orders:-

Signal: Course N. 4th Scouting Group take up day screening station between NW and NE (PJ), distance from main body six miles (AC6).


Course N. Take up day screening stations at visibility distance (or - Screen against - RUC) 2nd Scouting Group NW to NE, 4th Scouting Group ENE to S, Kolberg W.


Course NW. 2nd Scouting Group form the lookout arc from W to N at visibility distance from 1st Scouting Group.

II. The following order is a provisional alteration of the last sentences of S. A. VI, para 116:-

Should the cruisers be in close order before the beginning of an operation, the first half of the cruisers will turn to starboard of the flagship towards the look-out arc, while the second half turns to port. With good visibility the distances should not exceed 3,280 yds.

III. S.A. VI will be altered at a future date.

(Signed) Scheer

Last Updated: 26 August, 1999.

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