File No. 763.72111/5144

The Assistant Secretary of State ( Phillips ) to the Commercial Adviser of the British Embassy ( Crawford )

Dear Sir Richard Crawford : In further reply to your communication of May [April] 30, 1917,1 communicating the inquiry made by the Agent General for Queensland as to what facilities may be obtained for the release of cargo from the German ship Elsass for Queensland consignees, I beg to advise you of the receipt of a letter, dated June 16, 1917, from the Secretary of the Treasury, in substance as follows:

The Elsass was taken into custody at Pago Pago, Samoa, by the Navy Department, which has had the vessel taken to Honolulu for [Page 1257] repairs. The Secretary of the Navy informs the Secretary of the Treasury, under date of June 8, that the Navy Department, although repairing the vessel for service, has issued no instructions about the cargo which, he states, will remain in the ship and be turned over to the representatives of the Treasury Department with the vessel.

So far as the Treasury Department is informed at present, the German vessels which are or have been at Honolulu, are the only ones that have any foreign cargoes. The collector of customs at that port was recently instructed to take possession of such cargoes and send them to general order [sic] under Section 2880, Revised Statutes, and that if application should be made by the owners for permission to make entry, such applications should be submitted to the Treasury Department, stating the names of the owners and what disposition they propose to make of the goods.

The Attorney General has advised the Treasury Department that the Joint Resolution of May 12, 1917,1 which authorized the President to take possession and title of certain vessels evidently does not apply to the cargoes of the vessels. It appears, therefore, no longer necessary to consider the cargoes in connection with this Joint Resolution.

So far as the customs laws are concerned, the cargoes may be either entered for consumption upon the production of proper bills of lading and invoices or for warehouse and immediate exportation under article 247 of the Customs Regulations of 1915, without the production of bills of lading.

The Secretary of the Treasury adds that, if your Embassy will indicate which of the consignments it desires to go forward, the collector of customs will be instructed to accept entry therefor.

Very sincerely yours,

William Phillips
  1. Not printed.
  2. Quoted in Executive order of June 30, 1917, infra.