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
Y-51-25-41-40 ISM 714
[511 pm 10-28-18]1
To : Operations
EXTRA RUSH. 714 to Hurley and Gay from Stevens Rublee. We have sent today t<he> following cable to Secretary Baker.2
“We have just received from Gay information which has a most important bearing on the shipping situation. He has sent table prepared by his division of the shipping board which shows that the amount of tonnage required to lift the United States import program exclusive of petroleum from September 1st to the end of the year is one million eight hundred eight<y> five thousand dead weight tons. On September 1 the amount tons bringing imports to the United States was four million one hundred eighty thousand dead weight tons excluding tank ships of which two million six hundred sixty five thousand were American controlled and one million five hundred sixteen thousand were foreign controlled these figures include sailing ships converted into the equivalent in steam tons. It thus appears that on September 1 there <were> employed in American commercial trade seven hundred eighty thousand dead weight tons of American controlled ships and one million five hundred thousand dead weight tons of foreign ships in addition to the tons required to carry out the import program of the United States.
It is of course true that since September 1 boats have been withdrawn from import service for army use in accordance with plan submitted by General Hines3 but even making allowance for large withdrawal of that character it seems to us that if Gay’s figures are correct there must remain in trade a very good amount of tonnage which can still be withdrawn we xxxx should like to have the names and tonnage of all ships withdrawn from the importing trade for army use since September 1st and also those which have been designated for withdrawal upon arrival at port. We should also like those which have been designated for withdrawal upon arrival at port. We should also like to know as soon as possible the results of your inquiries as to the correctness of Gay’s figures.4
The shipping position of the European allies has grown much more than serious since the meeting of the Allied Maritime Transport Council.5 Railroad difficulties in France have resulted in the reduction of the shipment of French coal to Italy by railroad to one hundred eighty thousand tons per month as compared to program of three hundred fifty thousand and previous averages of two hundred thirty thousands this means some diversion of British tonnage for Italian coal the diversion of the five hundred thousand tons of shipping from food requirements to American army agreed upon at the meeting of the council will be a matter of the utmost difficulty and will be
ony secured <only> by en<c>roaching other war programs to an extent believed by many to be dangerous. We are therefore very doubtful about getting any tonnage on this side beyond the 500,000 and in view of the time involved in combining out of <our> trade we feel it our duty to urge that a re-survey of the us<e> of American ships be made at once to the end that every ship engaged in a trade not strictly essential to the war be taken over by the war department otherwise we strongly fear you will be faced with the necessity of suddenly abandoning the 80th divisional program ends quote Stevens Ruble<e> 113028
Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. The cable’s serial number, which appears at the top right of the first page, is repeated on the second page. There is a distribution list following the signature: “Op-19/22/23/26/48/49/56/SB/3 extra para 511 pm 10-28-18.” The message was sent by personnel at Sims’ headquarters on behalf Stevens and Rublee to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations to be delivered to Hurley and Gay.
Footnote 1: The time and date of the message is taken from a notation attached below a distribution list that appears below the signature.
Footnote 2: Secretary of War Newton D. Baker.
Footnote 3: Maj. Gen. John L. Hines, Chief, Army Embarkation Service.
Footnote 4: The reply has not been found.
Footnote 5: The meeting seems to have been held in early October. See: William S. Sims to William S. Benson, 11 October 1918.