832.34/185: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Chargé in Brazil (Crosby)


27. Your no. 27, June 15, 10 a.m. Admiral Vogelgesang’s recommendations to Minister of Marine relative to Brazilian naval program shown to Department by Ambassador Morgan. The Department fully understands that it is unlikely that any new construction will be undertaken in the immediate future but it desires to point out to Admiral Vogelgesang that the existence of such a program as the one proposed will make it necessary for Argentina and Chile to elaborate likewise their naval programs and thus there may be started a competition in naval construction. The Brazilian building program is spoken of as a program of defense. The Department does not know by what power Brazil is threatened that she should need such a large defensive fleet. 6,000 tons of submarines, of which 5,000 are to be new and 1,000 eventual replacement, are called for by the program; of the 15,000 tons for destroyers 10,000 are new construction and 5,000 replacement; 50,000 of the 60,000 tons for cruisers are new construction; and the Minas Germs is to be replaced in 1929 and the São Paulo in 1930 by battleships each of 35,000 tons, or a total of 70,000 tons.

As the Minas Geraes and the São Paulo and other units in the Brazilian Navy are practically obsolete, it is true that Brazil is now in an inferior position compared with Argentina and Chile, but the new program instead of putting Brazil on a footing of equality with those countries will place her in a very superior position which will necessitate new naval construction by them for the same reason which now moves Brazil to desire new construction; namely, the desire not to be left in a position of inferiority. Any such result as this would be most unfortunate and there would be brought about a condition of rivalry in armaments in this hemisphere which up to the present has happily not existed.

The Department’s feeling about this matter is so strong that it would rather recall the Naval Mission than assume the responsibility for the naval program that the Mission has proposed. Explain the Department’s position to Admiral Vogelgesang and request him to take the first opportunity to revise the naval program on the principle [Page 326] of no new construction or replacement of tonnage in any category that will be greater than the maximum which exists at present in any one of the three states, Argentina, Brazil, or Chile.

Ambassador Morgan has been made fully aware of the Department’s position in the matter, and immediately upon the Ambassador’s return to Rio de Janeiro he will discuss it with Admiral Vogelgesang.