Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Raymond B. Stevens, Vice-Chairman, United States Shipping Board and United States Representative, Allied Maritime Transportation Council, to Edward N. Hurley, Chairman, United States Shipping Board, Philip A. S. Franklin, Chairman of the Shipping Control Committee in New York, George I. Gay, Commissioner, Planning Division, and Assistant Secretary of War Benedict Crowell

<Cablegram>

From: Sims                   <April 4, 1918.>

To:   Opnav

            6001 Urgent ship mission #79 for Hurley Franklin Gay acting secretary of war.

          Further answering Board’s navy thirty seven1 we fully appreciate your difficulty adjusting military program so as to meet even so great an emergency as that concerning Italian coal period Italian coal crisis is only one consequence of the insufficiency of tonnage to supply all urgent needs of associated governments period But Italian need of coal is one which cannot be left unsupplied without eliminating Italy from the war period Coal must be carried to Italy and allied maritime transport council was obliged to provision therefor without waiting for gathering of complete information as to entire available and aggregate demands thereon of all associated governments which is necessary before complete adjustment of cargoes to tonnage can be determined period If solution by use of Dutch tonnage is impossible on account of military requirements result will be that problem of supplying Italy with coal next month will be harder than it was this month because of the arrears of supplies to England and France caused by diversion of ships to carry coal to Italy will have to be deal[t] with paragraph

     The vital difficulty in the whole shipping problem is that programs that seem absolutely essential are determined upon without reference to tonnage limitations period We are now busily engaged co-relating all these programs and ascertaining how much shortage of tonnage there will be period As stated in our ship mission twenty five preliminary figures indicated a possible shortage of 2,200,000 dead weight tonnage during 1918 period The figures upon which this is based are necessarily incomplete period While we expect to make more accurate estimateof possible tonnage shortage, it must necessarily be only an estimate, the accuracy of which will depend upon many factors not definitely ascertainable paragraph

     We transmitted to English authorities your suggestion about Australian and South American trade period They assure us that tonnage is used in these trades to carry essentials not obtainable from nearer points period We shall get the exact facts and submit them to you later period All governments in submitting importation requirements for 1918 have made drastic reductions and in our opinion further substantial cuts will have to be made period One of the most important functions of the allied maritime transport council will be to see that imports essential to prosecution of the war are sent out by all governments paragraph

     We were not aware of additional demands made upon you in Washington by France and Italy period Outside of recommendations already made as to 70,000 Dutch tonnage we do not at the present time recommend any further assignment of tonnage to France or Italy paragraph

     You are quite right that Washington representatives of France and Italy should not make additional demands for tonnage upon you period We have taken steps today which should lead each government to present its tonnage requirements only to the allied maritime transport council paragraph

     It would greatly help in simpliying yours and our work if you would decline to consider such demands and refer the applicants to the Council here.STEVENS. 12204.

SIMS.2       

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. Heading at top of second page: “6001 – continued.” This message was sent from Stevens to Hurley via Sims’ headquarters.

Footnote 2: VAdm. William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters.

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