File No. 763.72111/1726

The Cunard Steamship Company to the Secretary of State

Dear Sir: Referring to our conversation by telephone with Mr. Lansing’s secretary about 1 o’clock this afternoon, we have the following message by cable from our home office, Liverpool:

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Are considering proposals fit Transylvania [and] Orduna with two 4.7-inch guns aft for defence purpose only. Telegraph promptly do you anticipate any difficulty with authorities [in] New York. See Congress information bureau circular on subject, September 21. Is there any regulation covering quantity ammunition to be carried?

The congressional information bureau to which reference is made in the cablegram is our correspondent in your city. The circular September 21 repeated information given out by your Department, September 20, which is identical with the document issued by the Department of State, September 19, 1914, regarding “The status of armed merchant vessels.”1

It is therefore apparent that our company propose to be guided entirely in accordance with the prescribed status. The steamship Orduna is expected to leave Liverpool March 6 for New York and the steamship Transylvania is expected to sail from Liverpool for New York March 27. The average speed of these vessels across the ocean is from 13 to 14 knots per hour.

We assume that the proposition to mount the guns is for the defence of the vessels against attacks by submarines. We wish to know, if, upon the arrival of these vessels, prompt action will be taken under paragraph D, your circular, so that clearance may be granted without delay if investigation by the port authorities shows the conditions to be in accordance with paragraph C. We also wish to cable to our home office what the Department would consider a small quantity of ammunition (paragraph. C–4).

We will greatly appreciate, a reply by telegraph, Monday, if it is practicable for you to so favor us. The time for mounting the guns on the Orduna is short.

Yours truly,

The Cunard Steamship Company, Ltd.:
R. L. Walker