War Trade Board Files: Norwegian Negotiations, Vol. II

The Commercial Adviser of the British Embassy ( Crawford) to the Chairman of the War Trade Board ( McCormick)

My Dear Mr. McCormick:

You will doubtless recollect that on January 11th I informed Mr. Polk that the British Government were prepared to put into force articles Nos. 1, 2 and 3 of the draft agreement arrived at between the Embassy and the Board on November 23d regarding the division between Great Britain and the United States of Norwegian tonnage.

The articles in question read as follows:—

Ships on time charter to United States citizens and ships operating between the United States and South and Central America or [on?] the Caribbean to be taken on time charter by the United States Shipping Board.
Ships on charter to British subjects to remain at the disposal of the British Government.
Ships now in the service of France and Italy to be reallocated to such service on the expiry of their present engagements, if the war situation so requires.

In the same letter to Mr. Polk I promised that the British authorities would prepare and forward a list of Norwegian ships which were in Allied service on November 23d and I suggested that the Shipping Board should prepare a corresponding list of the vessels which they regard as coming under their control.

Captain Fisher has now brought out with him the British list in accordance with this proposal.

From a conversation which took place a week ago with Mr. Munson it became obvious that the authorities in London had put upon the provisions of the agreement which I have quoted above an interpretation differing in several points from that which had been put upon them here.

In view of this fact Lord Reading telegraphed to Mr. Balfour asking for full discretion to settle the division finally with the War Trade Board and the Shipping Board. Mr. Balfour has now given the full authority asked for and Captain Fisher is ready to proceed with the final discussion. It is proposed to go through the lists prepared by our respective Governments in detail ship by ship, so that the most complete and definite agreement may be reached between us.

As the agreement in question was an official one made with the War Trade Board acting, as I understand, on behalf of the State [Page 504] Department and the Shipping Board, I should be glad if you could inform me of the manner in which you wish these discussions to be taken up.

Yours very truly,

[No signature indicated]

[For the application in the contract for chartering German ships in Uruguayan ports of the principle of equal division of chartered tonnage between Great Britain and the United States, see the note verbale addressed to the Uruguayan Minister, March 12, 1918, post, page 676.]