The Acting Secretary of the Navy (Roosevelt) to the Secretary of State
Sir: I wish to acknowledge receipt of your letter (FE–811.34/259 893.811/530) of 21 July 1923,65 enclosing a copy of a telegram dated 11 July 1923 from the American Association of South China, emphasizing the need of further protection in that part of China, and also enclosing a copy of despatch No. 1605 of 13 June 1923 from the American Minister at Peking, in which he recommends that at least six new river gunboats be constructed for service in Chinese waters.
This Department realizes the grave condition of affairs in China and the necessity of adequate naval protection for American interests. Orders have recently been issued for the commissioning of two vessels of the minesweeper class, now at Honolulu, for service in the lower Yangtze River. While these vessels are not entirely satisfactory for river gunboat duty, in that they are of comparatively deep draft, they are the best type of ship the Navy at present possesses for use in reenforcing our Yangtze Patrol. These vessels should arrive on their station in about two months. The Department has put in its estimates for the Budget to be presented to the next session of Congress, a request for the construction of six river gunboats for service on the Yangtze River. If the situation in China continues grave with prospects of becoming worse, the Department will consider recommending to Congress a special appropriation for the immediate construction of these gunboats. It will further recommend that these boats be built on the Asiatic Station in order to expedite their being put in service and for economy in the cost of building.[Page 747]
The Department of State’s opinion as to the desirability of asking for an emergency appropriation for the construction of these gunboats would be greatly appreciated.
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