Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Sir Richard F. Crawford, British Commercial Attaché at Washington, to President Woodrow Wilson

Very Confidential.

My dear Mr. President:               Washington June 29th 1917.

     With reference to my letter of the 25th June I now have the honour to transmit the following supplementary information which has been received from London.1

     The total loss of tonnage (all vessels over 100 tons gross) by war risk from the beginning of the war till June 20th 1917 was approximately:

Gross    

        tonnage.  

    Great Britain                                 4,300,000

                                                                     Allies (including the United    

            States of America)                   1,343,000

          Neutrals                                      1,531,000

7,174,000

     Of this total the following loss was incurred between the beginning of February and June 20th 1917 (i.e. since the intensive submarine campaign)

Gross

tonnage:

                                   Great Britain   1,800,000

                                   Allies                    500,000

                                  Neutrals        __    628,000

        2,928,000        

     This gives an average loss by war risk during this period of 636,000 gross tons per month. In addition about 34,000 tons per month may be taken as lost by marine risk, making a total (excluding damage without total loss) of 670,000 tons gross (or 1,117,000 tons dead weight) per month.

     The above figures give gross losses without any offset for new building.

     As against the loss Great Britain is building at the rate of 100,000 gross tons (or 170,000 tons deadweight) per month and the rest of the world outside America at not more than 40,000 tons gross (or 70,000 tons deadweight) a month altogether.

     (The losses given include small coasting vessels which though important do not directly concern the main problem of maintaining overseas communications. Their total tonnage, however, is relatively small and the general results shewn above would be substantially unaffected if they were excluded.)

     I may add in conclusion that should any further points for enquiry arise in connection with the information conveyed in the memorandum enclosed in my communication of the 25th instant Mr. Royden and Mr. Salter2 would be of course at your disposal at any time. I have mentioned this because these gentlemen I understand contemplate returning to England shortly.

     With assurances of my highest respect,

       I have the honour to be,

         My dear Mr. President,

                    Yours faithfully,   Richard Crawford.

Source Note: Wilson Papers, 43: 45-46.

Footnote 1: On 23 June, Wilson had written Sir Cecil Spring Rice, the British Ambassador to the United States, requesting the “present remaining tonnage available for sea-carriage of supplies” for Britain, the Allies, and neutral powers. He also asked for the amount of tonnage destroyed by German submarines since 1 January 1917. In his letter of 25 June, Crawford (who was responding “In the Ambassador’s absence”) gave Wilson the number of British, Allied, and neutral ships in service but not the tonnage. He did provide a list of tonnage lost for each month since January 1917. Wilson Papers, 42: 564; 43: 9-11.

Footnote 2: Sir Thomas Royden was Chairman of the Inter-Allied Shipping Committee; James A. Salter was the British Director of Ship Requisitioning. The memorandum they prepared that Crawford enclosed in his letter of 25 June has not been found.

Tags
Related Content