File No. 103.95/577a
The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Great Britain ( Page )
7362. For Stevens from Hurley:
No. 19. With regard to proposed arrangement between Great Britain, France and Italy, whereby Great Britain seems to have agreed to charter directly to France and Italy certain proportions of her share of all neutral tonnage on understanding that such proportions of tonnage will be placed by Italy and France under control of Inter-Allied Chartering Committee which shall direct its employment, we remind you that the assent of this country has not as yet been given to proposed plan. Our present view is that if we assent it would practically place under control of the Inter-Allied Chartering Committee a considerable proportion of our share of neutral ships and to that extent would be in conflict with the understanding and agreement that we have with Great Britain, namely, that all neutral tonnage shall be equally allocated between Great Britain and ourselves with the understanding that we will each employ it only in war service, but neither submitting the questions of actual employment to the executive power of any inter-Allied body. Please continue to bear in mind that the inter-Allied committee which was discussed at Paris conference was intended only to collect data as to respective needs of the Allies and to formulate recommendations and suggestions looking to the economical and coordinated employment of tonnage. All parties to the Paris conference fully realized it was not intended that this committee should have any executive power. We say this for your guidance pending receipt of our letter setting forth fully the proceedings of the Paris conference on this subject and copy of resolutions there adopted.
We request that you attend the inter-Allied council for maritime transportation whose session begins in Paris on April 23. It was contemplated at inter-Allied conference at Paris in December that this country would appoint a representative on this committee or council, and we assume the committee is the outgrowth and expression of the resolutions adopted at the Paris conference. We suggest further that you receive and report any requests and suggestions that are there made and transmit to us your recommendation with full report of the proceedings, and avoid any commitment or action until your report is received and instructions can be formulated on your report as basis. We have no official confirmation that Great Britain has made the arrangement above set forth as to turning over a portion of her neutral tonnage to France and Italy. Please confirm [Page 512] fact if true and if possible advise us what are the reasons for French urgency that these proportionate allocations be made of neutral tonnage. As a practical matter it would interfere with the free movement of such vessels all of which are now being employed to the fullest capacity in the service of emergency war needs.
Please cable us the exact function and relationships of the Allied Maritime Transport Council on which we understand you are now sitting.