File No. 841.857/81

The British Ambassador (Spring Rice) to the Secretary of State

No. 364]

Sir: With reference to previous correspondence respecting the placing of bombs on British vessels loading at New York I have the honour to inform you that a further case of this nature has been brought to my notice.

The British steamship Asuncion de Larrinaga loaded a cargo of sugar and left New York on August 9. On August 11 at 8.20 a. m. fire was discovered amongst the bags of sugar in No. 2 shelter deck but was fortunately extinguished by the ship’s company before any great damage had been done. The master of the vessel reports that when he commenced loading threats were made that the voyage would never be completed. During the loading a dispute occurred over 180 bags and when the ship’s officer came to discuss the matter with the captain of the lighter who was a German, the latter tore up his tally remarking that it did not matter about the number of bags as the ship would never get to the other side. The master adds that the vessel was watched day and night by police and detectives but that notwithstanding these precautions the last bags shipped late at night must have contained some substance of an incendiary character as it was among them that the fire originated.

In this connection I may add that it was lately reported in the press that the responsibility for the fires on the steamships Kirkoswald and Cragside had been brought home by the police of New York to certain German lighter captains. The Acting British Consul General at New York reports, however, that according to information furnished to him by the police authorities their investigations have hitherto not arrived at any definite result.

In your note No. 939 of the 11th ultimo you were good enough to inform me of the steps which the Governor of the State of New York had taken with a view to the prevention of similar acts in the future.1 In expressing my acknowledgments for this courteous communication, I need not point out that the detection and punishment of the authors of the attempts at the destruction of ships which have already been reported would be the best safeguard against the recurrence of outrages of this sort and in view of the importance of the matter to British shipping using the port of New York I should be very grateful if you could, should you see no objection, inform me of what progress has been made in the investigation by the Federal and municipal authorities.

I have [etc.]

Cecil Spring Rice
  1. Not printed.