File No. 300.115/4343
The Secretary of State to the Consul General at London ( Skinner )
Sir: The Department is in receipt of your despatch No. 565 of July 3, 1915,2 having reference to the second detention of the steamer Neches, and has noted the account of your action in advising the master of the Neches that he ought not to pay the bills for enforced pilotage and wharfage dues demanded by the British authorities or the claim for damage sustained by the vessel with which the Neches collided while being operated by the Admiralty pilot.
You are referred to the Department’s telegram to the Embassy at London of July 9, 1915,3 of the contents of which you are no doubt advised, wherein your views in this matter, as disclosed by your telegram of July 2,3 were concurred in by the Department. The arrest [Page 492] of the Neches on the high seas and the taking of it to London to discharge cargo under the order in council of March 11, 1915, must be regarded by this Government as unwarranted and illegal. Consequently, charges against the ship for enforced pilotage, wharfage dues, and costs of discharging the cargo, as well as damage for the injury inflicted upon the vessel with which the Neches collided while under arrest and in charge of the Admiralty pilot, cannot be regarded as justly due by the ship or its owners. Likewise, the cost of repairing the damages sustained by the Neches in the collision aforesaid should, in the opinion of the Department, be borne by the British Government.
The Department appreciates the interest manifested by you in behalf of the rights of American shippers; but it is deemed advisable that the views of the Department in this matter should not be presented to the British authorities except by the Embassy, upon instructions to it, to the end that representations in the case may be kept in a single channel.
I am [etc.]