File No. 763.72111F23/22
The British Ambassador ( Spring Rice ) to the Secretary of State
Sir: In your note of the 29th ultimo you were good enough to inform me of the decision of the United States Government to treat the steamship Farn, or KD–3, which entered the port of San Juan, Porto Rico, in the possession of a German prize crew, as a tender to a belligerent fleet, and that as a result of the instructions given in pursuance of this decision the vessel had been interned.
I understand from the conversations on this question which I have had the honour to have at the Department of State, that the United States Government have been under the impression that the Farn, at the time of her original capture by a German cruiser, was employed as an Admiralty collier. I am now informed by my Government that the vessel has not in fact been employed as a collier or otherwise on Admiralty service since the outbreak of war, and that at the time of her capture she was carrying a commercial cargo to the Plate.
I am further instructed to state that His Majesty’s Government consider that, in any case, whatever the previous status of the vessel may have been, it would be necessary, before the vessel could be treated by a neutral power, in whose port she might find herself, as a German fleet auxiliary, instead of as a prize under Article 21 of the Hague convention, that there should have been a finding of condemnation of her on some other ground by a competent prize court.
His Majesty’s Government for these reasons consider that no circumstances have been disclosed in the present case which would justify the treatment of the Farn in a manner other than that prescribed in Article 21 of the Hague Convention No. XIII of 1907, [Page 823] and they trust that on further consideration the United States Government will agree in this view and issue the necessary instructions to the authorities concerned for the release of the vessel.
I have [etc.]