195/597: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in France ( Herrick )

243. Department instruction June 2 and telegram July 10 3 p.m.38

If you have not received favorable reply from Foreign Office, you are instructed to present the following note forthwith:

“Under instructions from my Government I have the honor to refer to my previous communications concerning the attitude of the authorities of the French Government in the matter of the recognition of the American Bureau of Shipping, and to draw your attention once more to the importance attached by my Government to an early favorable decision in the matter.

It is the view of the Government of the United States that the American Bureau of Shipping is entitled to full recognition by the French authorities on an equal footing with Lloyd’s or any other foreign classification society. This Bureau is designated by the laws of the United States (Section 25, Merchant Marine Act 1920) as an official classification society for the classification of vessels and [Page 757] for other functions in connection therewith and two members of the executive committee are designated by my Government. The inspection and certification of the Bureau are regarded by my Government as efficient and trustworthy. The high standing of the Bureau is further indicated by the fact that the London Institute of Underwriters recognizes its classification on a parity with Lloyd’s. My Government, therefore, is confident that on having the facts regarding the Bureau brought to your attention your Government will accord it the recognition to which it is entitled.”

For your information and guidance. Please reinforce the foregoing note with vigorous oral representations and endeavor in all proper ways to obtain prompt favorable decision. The essential fact is that France recognizes Lloyds but not the American Bureau. The refusal to recognize latter is not only important to vessels immediately affected, but has broader significance to American shipping inasmuch as greater part of American merchant marine is registered in American Bureau and any action that might be construed as reflection upon the standing of the Bureau would tend to weaken position of vessels registered therein.

The Shipping Board adopted a resolution on May 15, 1924, to the effect that the action of the French Government in this case presents a situation contemplated by Section 26 of the Shipping Act 1916 whereby it is authorized in cases of discrimination against American shipping to propose remedial measures to the President, and by Section 19 (b) of the Merchant Marine Act 1920 under which the Board is authorized “to make rules and regulations affecting shipping in the foreign trade not in conflict with law in order to adjust or meet general or special conditions unfavorable to shipping in the foreign trade.” The resolution called upon the Department to communicate with the French Government, preliminary to final action by the Board, with a view to causing that Government to accept as sufficient classifications by the American Bureau of Shipping of vessels documented under the American flag in cases in which, under similar circumstances, classifications by other foreign societies are accepted.

You may informally advise the Foreign Office of the purport of the resolution at the same time furnishing it with copies of Section 26 of the Shipping Act approved Sept. 7, 1916 (See 39 Statutes at Large, page 737) and Section 19, Paragraph B of the Merchant Marine Act approved June 5, 1920 (See 41 Statutes at Large, page 995). The Department desires, of course, that a serious controversy possibly even involving consideration of recourse to retaliatory measures may be avoided.

Advise Department by telegraph of important developments.

  1. Latter not printed.