Raymond B. Stevens, Vice-Chairman, United States Shipping Board and United States Representative, Allied Maritime Transport Council, and George Rublee, United States Representative, Allied Maritime Transport Council, to Edward N. Hurley, Chairman United States Shipping Board, and George I. Gay, Commissioner, Planning Division, United States Shipping Board
Chronological Copy. File No. <42-2-4>
Cablegram Sent Nov 11th, 1918 Y-57
To Discom, New York. Serial No. SM 790
Prep. by C-3 NCT D.R.
Shipmission 790 for Hurley and Gay. We have sent the following cable to the Secretary of State:1 QUOTE. The following proposal has been made unanimously by the permanent representatives of Great Britain, France, Italy and America on the executive of the Allied Maritime Transport Council and has our full approval.
SUBQUOTE. It is of urgent importance to bring into service at the earliest possible moment the Austro-Hungarian ships in Adriatic ports and neutral ports elsewhere. No proposal to this effect was included in the armistice and we must therefore take independent action to secure this object. There is of course no Austro-Hungarian government and indeed it is doubtful how far there is any government in certain parts of what was the Austro-Hungarian Empire. At the same time, the Italian government is in occupation of the Adriatic ports. A large proportion of the vessels are actually in these ports and the majority of those in neutral ports belong to owners resident in the Adriatic ports.
There is at the same time a great need of supplies in Austro-Hungarian countries and it will be reasonable in connection with any arrangement made to bring the vessels into service to arrange to send urgent supplies of food either in these or other vessels, and as each of the Allied Governments has received urgent request that food should be supplied to Austria-Hungary with a view to prevent anarchy, the following action is proposed.
1. That the associated governments should suggest to the Italian government to requisition vessels in ports in Italian occupation and endeavor to arrange with owners in those ports to send orders to any of their vessels in neutral ports to get ready for sea and place their vessels at the disposal of the Italian government. Vessels so managed by Italy would fly the Italian flag to which would be added the fla<g> of the Allied Maritime Transport Council, would be manned with Italian crew
s or crews or provided by the Italian government and would be directed by the Allied Maritime Transport Council, it being clearly understood that whe ather these vessels remain under the management of the Italian government or are by any subsequent arrangement managed by some other associated government they will in any case be under the direction of the Allied Maritime Transport Council. These vessels will be regarded as held in trust and subject to ultimate dispositions in accordance with the terms of peace.
2. The several governments in Austria-Hungary to be informed by the associated governments or by the Italian government on their behalf of whatever action has been taken and that the intention is to use the vessels for conveyance of supplies both to Austria-Hungary and to other countries according to the decision taken by the Allied Supply and Transport organizations.
It should be added that the associated governments are prepared to consider giving emergency <assistance> in the provision of food supplies. This will be arranged by the Inter-Allied Food Council in London, to which any application should be made by the several Austro-Hungarian governments, with full information as to both necessity and proposed distribution. It is an essential condition that all purchases of important commodities shall be made through this organization and subject to its
as ent <assent>. Further details to be arranged by the Allied Maritime Transport Council. End Subquote.
<We> are informed that the British Government has approved this proposal and has so instructed its Embassy in Washington. Similar <recommendations> are being made to the French and Italian governments. If the proposal has your approval as we hope it will everything possible should be done to hasten the bringing into service of the vessels in <question>. 184011 Stevens Rublee. sm 790
Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B.
Footnote 1: Secretary of State Newton D. Baker.