File No. 763.72111/1206

The Counselor for the Department of State to the British Ambassador ( Spring Rice )

My dear Mr. Ambassador: I have been advised in a letter from the Navy Department,2 transmitting a communication from the Commander [Page 663] in Chief of the Atlantic Fleet, that two British men-of-war are habitually lying from three to six miles southeast of Ambrose Channel Lightship, and that one of these vessels is a cruiser of about 9,000 tons displacement and the other of about 6,000 tons displacement. It is further stated that this appears to be a regular station for observing the commerce entering and leaving the port of New York, and that it is understood the ships are changed about every two weeks by reliefs from the northward, probably Halifax. This case is similar to the one to which I called your attention in my personal note of the 5th October, and I must repeat what I said in that note, that the presence of these vessels in near proximity to the harbor of New York, where the commerce of that port diverges, will I fear induce much adverse comment if the fact becomes the subject of public discussion. You will no doubt recall that in the past such discussion has forced the Government to take a very strong stand against the hovering of foreign warships in the vicinity of our great ports. I am calling this matter to your attention personally, as I have the previous cases of this sort, because the presence of these vessels at first caused considerable concern and because the continuance of this practice might be construed into an act of unfriendliness, requiring some action on the part of the Government, which I hope may be avoided.

I am [etc.]

Robert Lansing
  1. Not printed.