Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Commander Paul Foley and L. I. Thomas to Edward N. Hurley, Chairman, United States Shipping Board

Subject Copy                               File No.          

Cablegram Sent Jan 7, 1918.    IT

To   Opnav, Washington.                      Serial No. 2745

Prep. by Foley & Thomas1                 D.R.

20 B.        

VERY SECRET

2745. For Hurley:- Our 2584 British authorities submit revised statements showing that as of January 1st there were in U.K. and French Ports or due to arrive within 90 days 31 tank steamers scheduled to load from sources of supply other than U.S.A. with a combined carrying capacity of 258,700 tons. Of this tonnage 40,000 tons was scheduled for toluol benzene.1 Authorities point out that in the past tankers generally loaded about half cargo of toluol balance aviation naptha the object being to spread risk with valuable toluol cargo consequently 91.300 tons assigned. Deducting however only 40,000 tons this leaves balance of 218,700 tons carrying capacity distributed as follows:-

     a  -  U.K. Trinidad and Curacoa     7 Strs:  43,400 tons2

     b  -  U.K. Mexico                  11  "    124,000  "

     c  -  Circular tour                 6  "     24,400  "

     d  -  U.K. Borneo and return        4  "     15,100  "

     e  -  Mediterranean Borneo          2  "      8,400  "

     f  -  U.K. Trinidad Borneo U.K.     1  "      3,400  "

Based on actual performances after taking into consideration convoy delays but not repairs average length of voyages have been ascertained as follows:-

     a  -  70 days

     b  -  70  "

     c  - 166  "

     d  - 140  "

     e  - 110  "

     f  - 165  "

     North Atlantic voyage 53 days. Average repairs docking etc ascertained to be as follows North Atlantic 4 days Mexico Trinidad Gulf 5 days. If vessels indicated made one trip to Northern Atlantic ports instead of previously anticipated destinations estimated gain in U.K. imports would result namely:-

     a  -  10,500 tons

     b  -  30,100  "

     c  -  16,600  "

     d  -   9,400  "

     e  -   4,400  "

     f  -  _2,300_ "

  Total    73,300  "

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. Foley and Thomas were “experts” on maritime shipping that had been part of the mission to England led by Col. Edward M. House. Hurley, The Bridge to France, 198-200. This cable was presumably designed to address suspicions in the United States that Great Britain was doing less than it could in transporting oil to the war zone in order to reduce the chances that their tankers would be sunk. On the same day, Foley and Thomas sent another cable to explain “certain deviations of tankers” from Trinidad and Persia. The explanation was that two tankers had been pulled out of service for repairs, which had taken longer than anticipated. Those tankers had since returned to service and the amount of oil transported was expected to increase by some 9,000 tons per month. Ibid.

Footnote 1: Commonly known as toluene, it is used as an industrial solvent.

Footnote 2: “Strs” here probably refers to steamers.

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