Raymond B. Stevens, Vice-Chairman, United States Shipping Board and United States Representative, Allied Maritime Transport Council, to United States Shipping Board
X-48 ISM 865
<November 30, 1918>
To : Opnav
Shipmission 865 to United States Shipping Board Washington from Stevens. The London Times November 29 has the following statement concerning the purchasing by the United States Shipping Board of the vessels under British flag owned by International Mercantile Marine:
Quote The United States Shipping Board announced today its refusal to permit the sale to a British syndicate of the important fleet of trans-Atlantic vessels the property of English Company and flying the British Flag-the stock of which is held by the International Mercantile Marine. It describes the price offered by the British syndicate which is popularly supposed to be ninety million dollars(eighteen million pounds) to be a just price and declared its willingness to take over the vessels at that price whatever it may be and operate them as government-owned vessels. It is understood that the consent of the British government will be necessary for the transfer to the American flag of the fleet of trans-Atlantic liners of which the OLYMPIC is the most important, just as the sale to the British Syndicate was subject to the sanction of the American government. And, quote
If the foregoing is a correct statement I regret to feel compelled to request that my dissent to the purchase be recorded for the following reasons:
First, In view of the enormous ship building capacity of American yards built up during the war, I feel it is unwise to purchase foreign vessels at the present abnormally high prices.
Second, While I have had no communication with any representative of the British government with reference to the matter and do not know what attitude the British government will take concerning the purchase, I believe that a purchase at this time by the United States government of vessels now under the British fland andxxxx covered by British Statutes affecting the transfer thereof may lead to international misunderstanding and difficulties and more particularly may seriously complicate negotiations pending for the use of German and Austrian passenger ships, for the carrying home of American troops. StevensSM 865 184830
Source Note: D, DNA, RG 45, Entry 520, Box 677. Distribution list below close: “Op-19/23/29/22/28/S.B.” The time “715 am” and date “12-2-18” also appear along the bottom of the page, although the 30 November handwritten date is confirmed by the time/date notation at the end of the document.