File No. 763.72/3701

The Ambassador in Great Britain ( Page ) to the Secretary of State


5952. Following my 5949 of to-day,2 I send the following memorandum prepared by Sir Joseph Maclay, Controller of Shipping:

The most vital thing for the Allies at present is the provision of shipping. We have had to devote about half of our mercantile marine to direct war services and to assisting our allies. In addition to this have come the losses by war risk which have robbed us of 700 large vessels apart from a large amount of tonnage put out of commission at the same time through damage by submarines. The most drastic requisitioning has been carried out not only at the expense of our most vital export trades like cotton but all round; and we are to-day about 400 vessels short of the number we require to feed the country, maintain the war services and continue our existing liabilities to allies. In addition to the supply of munitions to Russia, estimated at over 3,000,000 tons, our imports this year will not be much more than half the figure of normal times. In these circumstances America might be urged to throw a supreme effort into shipping, which is the one great factor in the war in which France, Italy and other allies have been unable to give here [help] proportionate to that given in other directions and is now the most vital of all questions. America has huge quantities of munitions to go to the White Sea which some of her available tonnage might undertake and she might also immediately help export from the United States to France and Italy. Further, German tonnage could be made available with least possible delay, being repaired with all speed where damaged. German ships in Philippines might be used to bring sugar, rice, etc., to Italy, France and this country.

[Page 594]

Shipbuilding in the United States could be developed and hastened. As the United States Government are probably aware the British Government have a considerable amount of tonnage on order through private channels in America.

British Government can instantly put at disposal of British Ambassador experts to cooperate with the United States authorities regarding all shipping matters.

  1. Ante, p. 11.