Mr. Hay to Count Cassini.

No. 252.]

Excellency: I have received your valued note of the 10th of December, in which you inform me that Captain Berlinsky, commanding officer of the transport ship Lena, which lies disarmed at San Francisco until the end of the present war, would like to celebrate the name day of His Majesty the Emperor, which all Russians hold so dear, by hoisting on that solemn occasion, and for that day only, the national flag, dressing his ship, and firing the imperial salute.

I have considered the matter with care and with the earnest desire to meet in all things your excellency’s wishes. It seems, however, that the Lena, not being at this time a ship in active commission, lying-in a friendly open port, but being held in the Mare Island Navy-Yard [Page 790] completely disarmed, in the custody of the United States until the end of the existing war, her character as a war ship, including the function of saluting and the right to receive salutes, is in abeyance.

Under these circumstances the anomaly and inconvenience of firing the suggested salute in an American navy-yard without being competent to salute the American flag and without being entitled to a salute in return, lead me to the conclusion that it is not practicable to acquiesce in that feature of Captain Berlinsky’s programme. While regretting this decision touching the salute, it affords me much pleasure to say that as to the display of the national standard and dressing the ship no inconvenience is seen in the appropriate commemoration of the name day of his Imperial Majesty on board the Lena in all suitable ways consistent with the present status of the vessel. We have so informed the American admiral on that station.

I beg, etc.,

John Hay.