Mr. Storer to Mr. Hay.

No. 115.]

Sir: As your instruction No. 72, bearing date of February 26, called for no official action until further advice from the Department, I deemed it best to bring unofficially to the attention of the foreign office the intended cruise of our ships of war in the Mediterranean, as well as the wishes of our Government as to the courtesies and attentions which might otherwise be offered to the navy of a friendly power on such an occasion.

To this unofficial communication I have the honor to report I have to-day received the answer of the foreign office, also unofficial in form, but containing information of sufficient importance to transmit at once for the consideration of the Department. It will be seen that no more than three war ships of the United States may enter at the same time any Austrian or Hungarian port, nor more than six enter Austro-Hungarian waters until, as a preliminary, permission is asked for through the diplomatic channel.

I inclose a copy and a translation of the letter of the under secretary of state, Ritter von Mérey.

I have, etc.,

Bellamy Storer.

Mr. Mérey to Mr. Storer.

My Dear Ambassador: I have at once communicated to the proper quarter the contents of the note that your excellency was good enough to send on the 30th of March to inform the Government of Austria-Hungary that a United States squadron was to visit several ports of Europe this summer, and among them would stop at Trieste.

The naval section of the war department of Austria-Hungary has received the news of this visit to one of our ports with the greatest pleasure. Yet it is thought that the attention of the Government of the United States should be called to article 2 of the law in force on “The approach to the Austro-Hungarian coast of war vessels of friendly powers.” By the terms of this article it is interdicted for more than three ships of war of the same foreign navy to anchor at the same time in the same port; and for more than six of such ships of war to remain in the neighborhood of our coast, unless a special authorization therefor has been previously asked for through the diplomatic channel. The newspapers having spoken of a much larger number of ships, it is of importance, in order to avoid any misunderstanding, that timely notice should be given of this restriction to the Government of the United States.

I beg to add that the Austro-Hungarian naval authorities will take notice of the desire of your excellency to confine the marks of courtesy to the formalities of rule and custom and take this occasion to renew to you, my dear ambassador, the assurances, etc.

For the minister: