File No. 462.11Se8/41

The Assistant Secretary of the Treasury ( Peters ) to the Counselor for the Department of State


Sir: In connection with the case of the German cruiser Prinz Eitel Friedrich now in port at Newport News, Virginia, I enclose herewith the original report of Collector Hamilton of that district, dated March 12,2 with the following exhibits:


Exhibit (C): Statement by the commander of the German cruiser regarding the circumstances of the destruction of the Frye...

Sincerely yours,

A. J. Peters

Assistant Secretary
[Page 344]

Statement by the commander of the Prinz Eitel Friedrich

The American sailing ship William P. Frye was met by the auxiliary cruiser Pr. Bit: Friedr on 1/27/1915 in 29° 34′ 5″ latitude S. and 24° 25′ longitude W. An officer was sent on board to examine the ship’s papers as to her right to the flag, port of destination, and cargo. The result of the examination was:

Right to the American flag.
Cargo: wheat.
Place of destination: Queenstown, Falmouth, or Plymouth, to order.

Wheat is conditional contraband and is therefore liable to capture if intended for the use of the enemy’s armed forces or a government department of the enemy state. Such a destination is presumed to exist if the goods are consigned to a fortified place of the enemy or to some other place that is used by the armed forces of the enemy as a base of operations or supplies (see Declaration of London concerning the laws of naval warfare). All those destinations named in the William P. Frye’s charter party and bill of lading are in fact fortified places and points of support of Great Britain.

The commander of the cruiser had made an effort to confine himself to destroying the wheat cargo. After about 50 tons of wheat had been thrown overboard, the commander came to the conclusion that the unloading would consume too much time and would have injured the further success of the cruiser’s operation as the enemy armed forces were near. The commander had therefore to avail himself of the right conferred upon him by the Declaration of London to sink the ship.


Corvette Captain Commander
  1. Post, p. 825.