Admiral Beatty, the Commander in Chief of the Navy, had written to the Board of the Admiralty on 20 August requesting clarification on the overall policy on Naval Aviation.
<blockquote>“A correct policy is of vital moment to our air supremacy at sea during the year 1918…Possibly a definite policy has been decided upon by the staff, assisted by the experts concerned. If this is so, I should be glad if a member of the naval staff visited me and explained the proposals ; if no definite policy has yet been formulated, it is urgent the matter should be discussed between the naval staff, the technical experts, and myself at the earliest possible date.”</blockquote>
The Admiralty realised that no definite air policy had been laid down in black and white. There was a rapid exchange of memoranda on the question between the various Sea Lords and today a preliminary general statement of naval air policy, drawn up by the First Sea Lord was sent to Admiral Beatty.
<blockquote>ADMIRALTY MEMORANDUM ON NAVAL AIR POLICY
The Air Policy to which the Admiralty is working is as follows:
(i) Lighter-than-air craft.
To provide a type of airship, in sufficient numbers, which will be able to scout with the Fleet, and, in this respect, to perform the duty of light cruisers.
To provide also a type of airship for coastal patrol work and for escort of merchant ships and convoys unless and until this duty can be performed by heavier-than-air craft.
To provide also a sufficient number of kite balloons for the work which is required of them in the Fleet, in destroyer flotillas which are engaged in submarine hunting or in convoy work, and in trawler flotillas engaged in similar duties.
(2) Heavier-than-air machines.
(a) Those for use in seaplane carriers.
Under this heading the policy is to provide a sufficient number for reconnaissance, for engaging enemy aircraft, for observation of fire and for torpedo carrying. The policy also is to provide, when conditions admit, a sufficient number of seaplane carriers to work with the Grand Fleet, with the Harwich Flotilla, the Dover Patrol, Tenth Cruiser Squadron, Ireland, Gibraltar, and the Mediterranean.
(b) To provide also, when a satisfactory type is evolved, a sufficient number of lighters for carrying seaplanes for extended reconnaissance and for engaging enemy aircraft in Southern waters.
(c) The provision of heavier-than-air craft apart from Fleet work.
The policy is to provide machines for offensive action against submarines, mine-laying and attack of enemy aircraft, detection of minefields, protection of trade (by patrol or convoy), reconnaissance of such places as the Belgian coast and other enemy naval bases within reach of this type of machine.
To provide also torpedo-carrying seaplanes for work against the enemy bases in the Mediterranean, in addition to aircraft to carry out in the Mediterranean duties similar to those for which they are required in home waters.
(d) The policy also is to develop wireless, D.C.B.’s (Distant Control Boats), and vessels of larger type, dependent upon the result of experiments now in progress.
It must be recognized that it is one thing to lay down policy, and another, quite a different one, to carry it out after three years of war, when difficulties of every sort connected with the supply of labour and material are met with in every direction, and therefore, although the policy is as above mentioned, it may be anticipated that very considerable delays will be experienced in carrying out that policy.</blockquote>