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Commissioner John A. Donald, Commissioner, United States Shipping Board, to Captain William V. Pratt, Assistant (Acting) Chief of Naval Operations




     November 1, 1917.            

Captain W. V. Pratt, U. S. N.,

     Bureau of Naval Operations,

          Navy Department,

               Washington, D. C.

Dear Sir:

     Relative to our recent telephone conversation regarding my conference with Admiral Benson1 last week, this is to confirm my understanding as stated to you, namely, that the Shipping Board will provide crews and officers for the following classes of vessels:

(a) Ex-German interned ships of the cargo carrying type, but, not inclusive of large, fast transports now being fitted out by the Navy for the transportation of troops; and ex-German interned ships of the cargo type which are being used as Naval transports and supply ships, and which were taken over by the Navy at the outbreak of the war with Germany.2

(b) New cargo steamers commandeered in the builders’ yards by the Shipping Board under order of August 3, 1917, which were building for foreign account, right, title, and possession of which have been taken over by the United States Shipping Board.

(c) All cargo carrying commercial steamers requisitioned by the Shipping Board on government form time charter basis, of more than 2500 tons deadweight and over.

(d) Steamers of both wood and steel construction, contracts for which have been placed by the Shipping Board with builders, and which are now in course of construction for the Shipping Board, and expected to be delivered within the next eighteen months.

     Through Mr. Henry Howard, Director of the United States Shipping Board Recruiting Service at Boston, it is the intention to start an organization to secure firemen and sailors for ships to be manned by the Shipping Board. Mr. Howard has already established and has in full operation a chain of schools for the training of officers and engineers, from which excellent results are being obtained.

Very truly yours,  



Source Note: TCy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 520. Identifying marker “RM/R” appears on the left below the signature. The editor was unable to identify the sender’s full name and status on the Shipping Board

Footnote 1: Adm. William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations.

Footnote 2: For more on interned German ships, see: Navy Department (Operations) to Capt. Benjamin C. Bryan, 31 March 1917; William S. Benson to Josephus Daniels, 2 June 1917; and Admiralty to William S. Sims, 20 August 1917.

Footnote 3: This is an error by the typist.