The Secretary of the Navy ( Denby ) to the Secretary of State
Sir: Referring to your letter of 28 March, 1921, (FE–893.00/3778), in which you request an expression of opinion as to the feasibility of arrangements for increasing the Naval Forces in the interior of China, particularly in the Yangtze Valley, and to your letter of 4 April, 1921, (FE–893.00/3804),19 in which you enclose a copy of a dispatch from the Legation at Peking20 on the subject of greater naval protection along the Yangtze River, I have the honor to inform you that this Department is now maintaining six gunboats for patroling the Yangtze River and two gunboats in South China. This is the maximum number of vessels that can be maintained at the present time in connection with the patrol of Chinese waters. This Department is not only limited in personnel and funds, but has no vessels other than those now engaged in the patrol of Chinese waters which are suitable for Chinese river work. Recommendation has been made to Congress to supply new construction of a more satisfactory type for replacing the vessels now engaged in Chinese patrol work, but there is no probability that such vessels will be available in the near future.
The Department has under consideration the detail of a flag officer in a suitable vessel to administer the Yangtze patrol force. This additional vessel will be able to proceed some distance up the River, but will not be available for service in the upper reaches.