The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Mexico (Sheffield)

No. 82

Sir: I have the honor to enclose a translation of a note dated October 15, 1924, from the Mexican Chargé d’Affaires at this capital,80 concerning the coaling station which is now being maintained by the Navy Department in Pichilingue Bay, La Paz, Lower California, Mexico, and stating that the Mexican authorities feel that they have no legal power to permit the existence of the station at that place, and desire its removal within six months. There is also enclosed a copy of a letter dated November 28, 1924, from the Secretary of the Navy,81 informing me that the fuel depot in question will be permanently closed and relinquished in accordance with the wishes of the Mexican Government.

In this connection, I desire to inform you that prior to 1911 vessels of the Navy were occasionally permitted by the Mexican Government to visit Magdalena Bay for drills, target practice and other purposes, such permission being granted with the understanding “that the vessels do not fire in the direction of the coast, land armed forces, or establish camps ashore.” For your further information, I beg to refer you to your Embassy’s despatch No. 1528, of January 7, 1909, on the subject of Target Practice of the Pacific Fleet.81

No doubt it would be extremely useful to the fleet if similar privileges in those waters might be procured in the future, and you will note that the Secretary of the Navy, in his letter of the 28th ultimo, strongly urges that representations be made to the Mexican Government with that end in view.

Therefore, before revealing to the Mexican Government the decision of the Secretary of the Navy to accede to the request of the Mexican Government in the matter of the desired closing and relinquishment of the coaling station at Pichilingue Bay, it is desired that you discuss this matter with the Mexican authorities, intimating that it is receiving favorable consideration in compliance with expressed wishes and saying, in that connection, having in mind the contents of the letter from the Secretary of the Navy, above referred to, that the latter would deeply appreciate the renewal of the permission heretofore accorded for the fleet to operate from the waters of Magdalena Bay as an anchorage during periods for which diplomatic arrangements will be made beforehand in each case. You should point out that the privileges requested would seem to be in entire accord with customary usages between friendly nations.

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The result of your inquiries in this matter will be awaited with interest.

I am [etc.]

Charles E. Hughes
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