Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations

Cablegram Sent      Oct. 2, 1917

To   Opnav     Washington                        Serial No. 726

Via                          Prep. by J.V.B. Appvd. by N.C.T.1

File No.      

Copies to: C. of S; J.V.B.;

726. Admiralty requests information as to whether our merchantmen with armed guards visit South American, Norwegian and Spanish ports and as to whether any objections have been raised by these countries.2 09502

Sims     

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, 517B. The number at the end of the text (the date code) is a stamp.

Footnote 1: “J.V.B.” was Sims’ aide, Cmdr. John V. Babcock; “N.C.T.” was Sims’ Chief of Staff (C. of S) Capt. Nathan C. Twining.

Footnote 2: Responses to American armed merchantmen differed based on individual countries. South American nations, including Brazil and Uruguay, were on the verge of declaring war on Germany and were open to American merchantmen carrying armed guard units. In contrast, Norway requested that American merchantmen require active duty naval personnel to dress in civilian attire and be listed as crew members on the ships manifest when any armed merchantmen entered their territorial waters. Relations were particularly friendly between the United States and Spain. While there were pro-German sympathies in Spain, the war created massive coal and food shortages that could only be resolved through trade with the United States. As a result a special relationship with reciprocal trade exceptions developed that exempted the United States from that assigned to other belligerents. See, “Relations of Latin-American countries with the United States and with European belligerent countries as affected by the war in general and by the German submarine warfare,” FRUS, Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, 1917, Supplement 1, The World War; “The Treatment of Armed Merchant Ships in Neutral Ports,” FRUS, Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, 1917, Supplement 2, The World War, Volume II; Schmedeman to Robert Lansing, 10 October 1917, FRUS, Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, 1917, Supplement 1, The World War, p. 558; and Willard to Lansing, 15 September 1917, FRUS, Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, 1917, Supplement 2, The World War, Volume II, p. 1207.

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