L. I. Thomas to Philip A. S. Franklin, Chairman of the Shipping Control Committee, New York, Edward N. Hurley, Chairman, United States Shipping Board, Mark L. Requa, Director of Oil Division, United States Fuel Administration, and Commander Paul Foley
<November 15, 1918.>
Petroleum Mission 35 from Thomas for Franklin, Hurley, Requa and Foley Our 29.1
At conference yesterday with Cadman and Kemball-Cook2 we were informed that having regardx to signing of the armistice with Germany and the capitulation of Bulgaria, Turkey and Austria-Hungary indicating an early peace settlement, His Majesty’s Government were not prepared to give practical effect to the Eastern Agreement by placing additional steamers on circular tours and commence delivery of oil of Eastern origin from British to American interests.
We then pressed for allocation of addition on circular tours irrespective of percentage of trade agreement pointing out: First, that east urgently needed supplies of kerosene. Second, that during present transition stage Eastern Naptha steamships could deliver cargoes of American kerosene on return voyage to the East with deviation of only 25 days whereas round voyage from San Francisco, Cal. to East would take 62 days. Third, that such deviation of 25 days was the rough equivalent of a voyage from and to Indies to India and as the British Government had never hesitated to provide all necessary tonnage for oil of Eastern origin that our proposal was therefore tantamount to having secured a corresponding increase in output from Eastern refineries. Fourthly, that according to figures exchanged shows delivery into consumption for years 1913 and 1917 in countries affected by the agreement delivery into consumption had decreased nearly ten million units during 1917 but that from a percentages point of view the American interests percentage had declined from about forty percent in 1913 to about 35% in 1917. Fifthly, that the loss in discharge of trade to American interests during 1917 was reflected in a direct gain to British interests which could only have happened through unequal apportionment shipping.
Our argument proved unavailing. The British Authorities maintain that the only tankers which could be placed on circular tour belonged to rival companies and that such action on their part would be bitterly resented by British oil interests. We emphasized the facts that since the commencement of the war American owned tankers under the British flag had been persistently used to transport eastern naptha to Europe and for other service of direct benefit to British correspondent companies consequently our proposal differed in no wise from a recognized practice conceived and adopted by the British Government.
Finally we suggested that such additional circular tour steamships as might be allocated to safeguard situation during transition stage from war to peace might be apportioned between British and American interests in some equitable manner but that would not commit them implies, however, that if American Government would set forth necessity for immediate shipment of kerosene to eastern countries they would be prepared for reconsidering question.
Until some decision is taken concerning releasing from requisition of British tankers xxx we do not anticipate any relief from this side consequently we urge that with particular reference to our position in the U. K. reported in our telegrams 33 and 343 that careful consideration be given to assignment of American tankers which can be spared for eastern service. Signed Thomas. 191015--P M 35
Shipping Board 1140am 11-17-18
Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B.
Footnote 1: This document has not been further located.
Footnote 2: Sir John Cadman, First Baron Cadman, a noted oil expert, petroleum engineer, and advisor to the Ministry of Shipping, and Sir Basil A. Kemball-Cook, Ministry of Shipping.
Footnote 3: Neither of this cablegrams have been subsequently located.