500.A15 Arms Truce/24: Telegram
The Secretary of State to the Minister in Switzerland ( Wilson )
115. Reference is made to your telegram of September 18, 3 p.m., No. 141. The reference to new destroyers concerns destroyers in replacement of over-age ships, of which the United States has a large proportion in destroyers, as for more than 10 years no new ones have been laid down. We have been informed by the Navy Department that bids for constructing these new ones have been received and opened, but that the contracts therefor will not be definitely let for a week or two, and that the keels cannot be laid down for a least a month or possibly 6 weeks.
At the session on Monday when you take up the matter of minor difficulties to be overcome in connection with the working out of the details, you are directed to point out specifically the matter of vessels which have already been contracted for or for the construction of which bids have already been made. In spite of the fact that we wish to give every encouragement to those powers which support the holiday proposed by Grandi, we must avoid placing ourselves in the equivocal position of urging foreign powers to act while we make ourselves a mental reservation to ask for exceptions in our behalf later on. Do not incur the risk of misleading your colleagues in regard to our intention to build the destroyers in question.
The suggestion that you make to the effect that the Grandi proposal be rewritten so that the first point will provide for prohibiting the letting of new contracts during the year of holiday instead of prohibiting the laying down of new keels, seems to offer a good deal of advantage from our viewpoint, but I would rather you gave support to such a wording if it were introduced by others rather than by us. However, if you deem it necessary you may introduce it.
The Department should continue to be kept completely informed of developments.