Edward N. Hurley, Chairman, Shipping Board, to Raymond B. Stevens, Vice-Chairman, Shipping Board, and Representative, Allied Maritime Transport Council
Chronological Copy. File No.
<March 30, 1918.>
CABLEGRAM RECEIVED April. 18401 TOH
Origin Opnav, Washington. Ser. No. 4441
C-3 2 April
25 D VERY SECRET
4441. Boards Navy 37, for Stevens from Hurley. Have received your Ship Mission 25, 26, 37, 50 and 51 setting forth the urgent need of tonnage to solve the coal situation in Italy and France and containing your request that in addition U.S.S. PAWNEE and DORA already allocated for one coal carrying trip<.> we also assign 70,000 tons Dutch ships to trans-Atlantic service for carrying necessary imports [to] England and France in substitution for British and French ships withdrawing Atlantic service for French coal trade. We appreciate the urgency of your demands and are anxious to work direct with you in all these matters. Nevertheless demands are made upon us to meet the requirements of the War Department also for providing tonnage for Nitrate of which we are 100,000 tons a month short both for this country and Italy France and England. Also to meet the New England coal situation<;> also to supply additional tonnage for France and Italy, we are reducing imports to the minimum and will be able within six months to save 750,000 tons of ships. This however cannot be accomplished at once.
Our present program is based on assignment of 253,000 tons American ships to the service of France of which 71,000 are tank ships and 130,000 are cargo boats. Similarly we have assigned to Italy 222,000 tons of which 46,000 are tank ships and 176,000 are cargo boats. It is our desire not to disturb this tonnage but to keep it in its present service. Are you aware that French and Italians in Washington, D.C. are making urgent demands daily for additional ships. We cannot possibly give more tons to French and Italians and at the same time carry out our Military program. You have the facts at your command. Cable whether you recommend giving additional tonnage to French and Italians and thus interfere with our Military plans. If you decide against their demands please have French and Italian Governments notify their representatives here to make no further demands inconsistent with our program.
At present time we cannot agree placing 70,000 tons of Dutch ships in trans-Atlantic service as requested. Such allocation likewise inconsistent with Military program as laid down. There will be held Tuesday and Wednesday of next week a conference on our Military program before which your proposal will be laid for a decision whether the program shall be sacrificed. Will cable you further immediately after conference.
It is my understanding that you<r> Allied Maritime Transport Council has before it the entire tonnage of the world and you are familiar with its movements. There is some feeling here that if we reduce our imports to the minimum and put every available ship into war service some tonnage of England now in the Commercial trade of Australia and South America should be withdrawn and also placed in this service but we have before us no facts to substantiate this impression. Please cable us facts immediately for use Tuesday next at first day of conference. Nothing but vital Military needs will prevent our fulfilling your recommendations. 20030 4441.
Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B.