Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels

August 29, 1917.

From:   Force Commander.

To:     Secretary of the Navy (Operations).

Subject:  British Method of controlling Neutral Shipping.

          The British Government has provided insurance for a large number of neutral vessels that are carrying cargoes to the Allies and operating in dangerous waters. As a return for this insurance, the British insist that these Neutrals must be guided by British instructions, or the insurance will be withdrawn. On this basis, Neutrals are regularly placed in convoys, follow British instructions, and in a sense are under British discipline.1

     Any neutral not insured by the British Government, but carrying cargo to the Allies, is accepted in the convoys.

Wm S. Sims.

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B.

Footnote 1: When convoying operations were established, the British created differential premium rates to replace the much higher pre-convoy flat rates. In the United States maritime insurance was provided by the government-run Bureau of War Risk Insurance, which was established in September 1914 to insure cargoes and ships operating in war zone areas. This bureau was able to turn a profit through the course of the war and it is assumed that they adopted the British system. Stackhouse, “Anglo-American Atlantic Convoy System in WWI,” 223-26.

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