Professor J. A. Field, Shipping Board to George I. Gay, Commissioner, Planning Division
Chronological Copy. File No. <42/2/4>
Cablegram Sent May
23 <24>, 1918. TOH
To Opnav, Washington. Serial No. SM 179
Prep. by C-3 SX D.R.
Shipmission 179. For Gay from Field. Replying Boards Navy 117 Aside from Naval Military and Colonial vessels and certain liners British do not ordinarily regard their ships permanently assigned to any particular trade or service. On contrary to secure maximum flexibility and efficiency each vessel reports to Ministry of Shipping at termination each voyage and is reassigned according to current demands. Present occupations of British merchant ships could presumably be compiled from British card catalog by British Staff but labor of compilation would be heavy and possibly so protracted as to make result obsolete or inconsistent in consequence of frequent changes in ship assignments. Hesitate to make such deman<d>s on British Staff unless result would clearly justify effort. Please advise more fully explaining precisely what information is desired and whet<her> it is to be revised currently. In particular explain what information you would expect which Lloyds daily confidential list would not yield. Bear in mind that as above implied trade in which a vessel is engaged is commonly question of fact at any given moment rather than of fixed plan. Lloyds list gives no details concerning naval and military auxiliaries but these would hardly be divulged in any case.
We understand Ministry of Shipping has private mimeographed periodical reports showing position of certain vessels. Nominally those reports are not accessible. Possibly we could arrange informal exchange if you authorize us to give Ministry of Shipping your similar confidential reports on movements United States ships. Field. Stevens. 01224
Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B.