Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt to Commandants, Third Through Eighth Naval Districts, and Commander, William R. White, Commander, Vixen
17 March 1918
3rd – 8th Naval Districts and U.S.S. VIXEN
To: Commandants Third Fourth Fifth Sixth Seventh Eight Naval Districts and USS VIXEN.1
RUSH (sigcode) Agreeable to the rule of the International Law and on account of military necessity this Government may decide to take over the Dutch ships lying in its harbors comma utilizing their services in accordance with aforesaid laws period
Or the Dutch Government may enter into terms of agreement with this Government whereby the services of said ships may be utilized in a manner agreeable to both parties period In case it becomes necessary [to] take these ship over under International law you will be prepared with proper speed to take peaceable possession of the Dutch ships lying within your district or under your immediate control comma upon receipt of the cable quote Utilize dutch ships unquote period In carrying out this mission2 be guided by the following general instructions period
A list of ships with locations attached3: First comma furnish sufficient guard to amply police the ships and to carry out the proper inspections period. Provide the nucleus of a naval crew for each ship especially in the matter of engineer’s force period Provide a paymaster or representatives and sufficient cooks to care for our own forces and any of the Dutch crews who may remain on board temporarily comma Second notify the Immigration authorities of the time when it is the intention of the District authorities to take actual possession in order that representatives of the Immigration Bureau may accompany each naval party. Comma Third Instruct officer in charge of each ships parties to notify captain or senior officer that in utilizing these ships the United States is acting under rules of International Law (or in accordance with joint agreement) as case may be period Inform him and crew that comma A comma any Dutch subject so desiring will be repatriated as soon as transportation can be provided comma B comma or will be allowed to ship out of port after proper arrangements have been made comma C comma any Dutch subjects desiring to remain here permanently can do so on passing inspection under the Immigration Law comma D comma Inform them that until such time as each case is settled they will be treated as guests of the nation and wages paid according to Dutch law and rights they have under the Dutch law will be observed by the United States government period. Fourth Treat all officers and crew of said ships with utmost consideration and as guests of the nation period. allow them the privilege of the ships and to remain on board until arrangements are made by the Immigration authorities for their proper reception ashore. Fifth if physical resistance is encountered while taking possession, physical force will not be used to overcome it but every reasonable means short of it will be employed period. Each case of this kind will be reported immediately to Washington for further action period Under no circumstances shall such ship be allowed to sail period Sixth if any of the officers or crew insist upon going ashore before inspection by the Immigration authorities allow it after taki<n>g such record as is required by Immigration law and further directing him to report on honor to Immigration authorities period Seventh the officers and crew of the Dutch ships remaining on board will be subsisted by the Navy until such time as other arrangements are made period Eighth take over the custody of all papers period Retain possession of all originals which may be necessary to clear the ship to pursue her voyage period send all other originals and copies of retained papers to Shipping Board. Ninth take a list of the officers and crew period Send one copy to Shipping Board comma one to local Immigration authorities comma retain one period. Tenth make an inspection of all cargo and other spaces comma then seal cargo holds period Report condition found by such inspection to Navy department and to Shipping Board period Eleventh take an inventory of all stores and bunkers period Send copies to Shipping Board and retain copies period Twelve make thorough inspection of ships and engines and report conditions as soon as practicable to Navy Department and to Shipping Board period Thirteen make arrangements with Immigration authorities to provide boats when desired by them for landing Dutch crews period Fourteen In cases of doubt where the modus operandi is not clear refer matter to Washington period Fifteen commission ships with full naval crews as soon as practicable unless later arrangements are made after ships are taken over period Sixteen The probable time of taking over above ships will be March 19 or soon after period Seventeen In case however that the Dutch Governments enters into amicable arrangements with the United States Government for the charter of said ships that cable Utilize Dutch ships will not be sent and the Navy will take no action period The matter will then become one of commercial arrangements between the Shipping Board and owners of said ships4
For information Dutch ships are at New York Philadelphia Baltimore Norfolk Charleston Key West Mobile New Orleans Port Arthur, Texas, San Juan acknowledge comnavdis 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, USS VIXEN 13017
Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B.
Footnote 1: These districts and their commandants were as follows: New York, RAdm. Nathaniel R. Usher; Philadelphia, RAdm. James M. Helm; Norfolk, RAdm. William McLean; Charleston, RAdm. Frank E. Beatty; Key West, RAdm. William B. Fletcher; and New Orleans, Commo. Valentine S. Nelson. Vixen was a patrol yacht stationed at the Virgin Islands. Its commander, William R. White, was also an aide to the islands' governor, RAdm. James H. Oliver.
Footnote 2: See: William S. Benson to William S. Sims, 16 March 1918.
Footnote 3: This attachment is no longer with this document.
Footnote 4: On 20 March, Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels sent an order to the commandants of the naval districts listed above plus those of districts 1, 2, 12 through 15, and the naval station at Cavite, Philippines, to utilize Dutch ships; Daniels to Naval District Commandants, 20 March 1918, RG 45, Entry 517B.