File No. 195/82

The British Embassy to the Department of State


Urgency of tonnage situation makes it of utmost importance that British Government should know as soon as possible how far they can rely on American assistance in regard both to new construction and existing ships.
British Navy require 60 per cent of British shipbuilding yards, engine shops and available labour instead of about 20 per cent in normal times. Assistance of United States Government in supplying steel plates for shipbuilding purposes would be very valuable. Steel should also be made available for building in Canada, Hongkong, Shanghai and Japan.
Half the British mercantile marine is engaged in service of the British Army and of the Allies and the balance is totally inadequate to meet essential demands owing to heavy losses. Reservation of United States steel production for war purposes is regarded by His Majesty’s Government as the first outstanding need.
The British Government also badly need tank steamers and the following are their definite requirements:
Eight large tank steamers to convey oil fuel from the United States to the United Kingdom for British Navy requirements for a period of at least eight months.
Assistance to the Union Petroleum Co. to enable them to charter tank steamers to convey oil fuel to Chili for nitrate oficinas thus releasing the British tanker Cordelia required for the United Kingdom.
Any assistance possible by placing tank steamers in general United Kingdom trade.

This matter is urgent especially (a).