500.A15a3/130: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Great Britain (Dawes)


226. Reference your telegram No. 242, August 24, 2 p.m. Although we have made clear the elements which we consider should enter into the yardstick and consequently its general nature, it has not yet been produced for the Prime Minister’s inspection nor has an immediate agreement on such a yardstick been suggested. The preliminary conversations between the two countries should, we [Page 210] consider, be limited to this. For Great Britain and the United States to try actually to agree upon the details of such a yardstick we consider would be unwise at the moment. The following are our reasons for this:

The naval experts of the two countries may have diverging opinions, and, since complicated formulae and considerations are involved in the yardstick, we may become involved in prolonged and highly technical mathematical discussions.
The only point in the conversations between the two countries directly affecting interests of other countries is the yardstick, and without keeping them informed it would hardly be fair to agree upon it. In response to inquiries, their representatives have been told by us that as soon as the yardstick was given to anyone it would be given to them.
The yardstick would inevitably become public should we do this, and public discussion and undoubtedly violent press controversy would also inevitably arise which would becloud all of the much more important matters upon which we have already reached an agreement and would render far more difficult a final agreement in the Conference subsequently to be held. Therefore, it is sincerely hoped that the Prime Minister will be agreeable not to insist upon his request for the mathematical yardstick formulae, but to defer until the Conference the consideration of this matter. It is our desire, however, to be absolutely frank and to keep the Prime Minister fully informed. The results of our yardstick as applied to each fleet are therefore given to him as follows: A discount of about 65,000 tons from the 330,000 ton, fifty-ship British fleet as of the 31st of December, 1936, is given by the yardstick and from the contemplated 300,000 ton American fleet which contains ten Omahas and twenty-three 8-inch, 10,000 ton units, the discount is similarly about 23,000 tons, or in other words this will permit the shortening by at least one 8-inch, 10,000 ton ship of the United States program.