Rear Admiral Dudley R.S. De Chair to First Sea Lord Admiral Sir John R. Jellicoe
From Washington Date 9.5.17
To Admy. Recd.1.12. am
For 1st.S.L from R.A.de Chair begins:-
I attended Naval Committee of Congress on Friday last and strongly urged commandeering of all necessary small craft in U.S harbours and suspension of work on capital ships. Am informed that impression on Committee was favourable and Bill for appropriation of shipping was much advanced thereby.1 Question of suspending work on new construction capital ships is not however settled and present capacity of ship yards and ships is fully taken up. Navy Dept. is nervous about Japan after war They fear she may threaten U.S.2 Am finding great difficulty in placing orders for small craft due to XXXXXXXX Navy Dept. controlling all Shipyards. Ship builders are compelled to obtain permission of Navy Dept. before undertaking any work.
Source Note: Cy, UK-KeNA, Adm. 137/655. Addressed below close: “1600/1st.S.L.”
Footnote 1: This bill, S.J. Res. 42, was passed on 12 May 1917, “authorizing the President to take over for the United States the possession and title of any vessel within its jurisdiction, which at the time of coming therein was owned in whole or in part by any corporation, citizen, or subject of any nation with which the United States may be at war, or was under register of any such nation, and for other purposes;” United States Statutes at Large, Volume 40: 1917-1919 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1920), p. 75.
Footnote 2: Commo. Guy R. Gaunt, the British Naval Attache in Washington, wrote to the Admiralty:
United States Navy Department have not yet dropped capital ship programme as they fear superiority of Japanese Navy after the war.
The United States Navy feared that the Japanese Navy would overtake them and jeopardize American influence in the Pacific. Several unnamed members of the United States Navy Department indicated that a British promise of an alliance against the Japanese might relieve that fear, but Gaunt did not think that was a serious possibility. Gaunt to Admiralty, 10 May 1917, UK-KeNA, Adm. 137/1426.