File No. 763.72111/1966

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

Dear Mr. Counselor: In view of rumours circulated in the German press as to British cruisers systematically provisioning themselves from United States territory—notably New York—I beg to quote for your information the following extract from a letter of the Admiral in command of the North American station dated March 26:

Except on the one occasion in September last, which formed the basis of the complaint referred to in your telegram, I am satisfied that no attempt has been made to order anything from United States territory, and I would point [Page 874] out that apart from the fact that the provisioning of His Majesty’s ships off New York is rendered quite unnecessary by their being regularly relieved, the obtaining of supplies in such a manner is open to two strong objections from a naval point of view, viz.:

The amount of provisions required to be of any use would be so large that they could hardly be embarked undetected, and it would take a considerable time to transfer them at sea.
In wintry weather such a transfer would often be a matter of difficulty and not worth the risk to men and boats. I can not but think the United States Navy Department are alive to these considerations.

I am [etc.]

Cecil Spring Rice