Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Raymond B. Stevens, Vice-Chairman, United States Shipping Board and United States Representative, Allied Maritime Transport Council, to Edward N. Hurley, Chairman, United States Shipping Board, Vance C. McCormick, Chairman, Board of Trade, and Assistant Secretary of War Benedict Crowell

COPY

DISPATCH TO BE SENT:     Date;     14 March 1918

TO: Opnav, Washington.   Prep; C-3, apvd; Greene1   Code; 25 D

No. 5146

HIGHLY SECRET.

5146 Shipmission 25 for Hurley, McCormick and Acting Secretary of War only. After 3 days discussion the Allied Maritime Transports by unanimous action of delegates from 4 Governments made following recommendations to Supreme War Council (Paragraph)

     QUOTE The Allied Maritime Transport Council have had under consideration this week the available tonnage in Allied service in relation to the supply programmes. The general position may be summarized by saying that the tonnage now in Allied control parenthesis excluding any additional neutral tonnage that may be obtained and any tonnage from American not used for her own requirements parenthesis will leave a deficit in the present supply programmes of the three European Allies of some 10 millions tons of imports or 2,200,000 tons dead weight of tonnage. This deficit remains after allowance for reductions already made in import programmes which will have serious results,and though it is possible that some further reductions can under pressure of necessity be still made, the Council are unanimous that no reduction of 10 millions tons can be made without results which will be disastrous to the prosecution of the war. The council have arrived at the conclusion that substantial assistance parenthesis though not adequate to meet the deficit parenthesis can only be derived from two sources colon

     (a) The allocation of American tonnage for the use of Allied Services

     (b) The acquisition of additional tonnage, particularly Dutch, of which the most important part is in American ports.

     For instance, the council have been faced with the extremely serious position of the Italian coal supplies and have been unable to see any hope of solution except by the relief afforded by the use of the Dutch tonnage in America, and they are conscious that the allied cereal position and the supply of other essentials such as nitrates are no less serious, and cannot be relieved if assistance is not forthcoming from tonnage under American control. Again, the American military purposes employ some 11,000 wagons in France which are taken from other uses vital to French and Italian requirements. Large quantities of wagons are ready in America and have not been transported to France.

     In these circumstances reference was made at the Council to the practicability of further American assistance, but Mr. Stevens made the very serious statement that, on present American calculations, the American military programme now adopted by the Supreme Council and agreed by the American Government seems likely to absorb:

     (a) All American tonnage existing and building not required for American imports and

     (b) All additional neutral tonnage which may be received by America. This in result includes the whole of the Dutch tonnage now in American ports.

     If this proves to be the case, the Council are certain that the results to the Allied supply programmes will be of the utmost gravity.

     The whole position should, therefore, be considered by the Supreme War Council in the light of the tonnage situation. As a temporary measure, and in order to avoid the very serious military position that will result from a failure of the Italian coal supply, the Allied Maritime Transport Council recommend that not less than half the Dutch tonnage now in American ports should be placed for one voyage in the service of Allied supplies so as to release corresponding tonnage for Italian coal trade. UNQUOTE:(Paragraph)

     This means that if the Supreme War Council takes action in accordance with above recommendation steamers in trans-atlantic service now in English Ports will make one voyage to France with coal before proceeding to America causing average delay of about three weeks for each steamer period. It is contemplated that Dutch vessels now in New York will replace steamers so diverted. Stevens.

SIMS

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. This cable was sent via Sims’ office and transmitted to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, which in turn delivered it to Hurley, McCormick, and Crowell.

Footnote 1: J. D. Greene was one of the “experts” on Stevens’ staff. Hurley, Bridge to France: 199.

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