File No. 763.72112/2868a

The Secretary of State to the Chargé in Great Britain (Laughlin)


3710. Following extract from British shipping paper Fairplay, July 13 or 16, 1916, has been called to my attention.

The following intimation is made on behalf of the Marine Department of the Board of Trade to the parties concerned: I am directed by the Board of Trade to direct your attention to the fact that one of the conditions upon which the owners of neutral steamers can obtain facilities for the supply of bunker coal for their vessels is that they shall not sell or time-charter any of their vessels without the previous consent of His Majesty’s Government. As there have been several breaches of this condition, inquiries were made which showed that the omission was generally due to a charterer’s sub-chartering without the owner’s knowledge, and consequently without the consent of His Majesty’s Government having been obtained under the provisions of the charter, which contained a clause to the effect that “the charterers shall have the right of sub-letting the steamer, giving due notice to owners, but the original charterers always to remain responsible to the owners for due performance of this charter.” As it is of great importance to owners and charterers of neutral steamers that the conditions of the supply of bunker coal should be strictly observed, the Board of Trade would suggest that when negotiating charters on behalf of owners of neutral ships who have agreed to the conditions of supply of bunker coal, you should ascertain whether the consent of His Majesty’s Government has been obtained, and also secure the insertion of a provision in the charter that the vessel is not to be sub-chartered without previous consent of His Majesty’s Government; This may be effected by adding the words “subject to the British Government’s approval” after the words “the steamer” in the clause quoted above.

Please investigate immediately as to whether this statement is official and report at earliest moment by cable, as it is possible that the question may come up for discussion in Congress. Does prohibition include sale of time-charter between neutrals?