Secretary of the Navy John D. Long to Rear Admiral William T. Sampson, Commander, North Atlantic Fleet
Washington. May 7, 1898.
The vessels purchased as colliers for the Navy are all of the mercantile type, and as their general appearance does not indicate that they are vessels of war, this fact might, under certain circumstances, aid in their escape from an enemy’s cruiser. As aids to that end, the Department directs that their general appearance shall not be changed, and that their hulls be painted black. The names of these colliers, as they appear in Lloyd’s Register, will be retained.
2. It is the intention of the Department to supply these vessels with foreign merchant flags, to be used as permissible under international law, in any efforts they may be required to make to effect an escape, by stratagem.
John D. Long
Source Note: TDS, DNA, RG 313, Entry 47, Box 2. Addressed below close: “Commander-in-Chief,/U.S.Naval Force,/North Atlantic Station.” Stamped: “Received/May 13 1898” Document reference and typist initials: “108827...EC” Document on Navy Department stationery.