711.00111 Armament Control/Military Secrets/809

Memorandum by the Chief of the Office of Arms and Munitions Control (Green)


In compliance with instructions, I called on Admiral Leahy, Acting Secretary of the Navy, this morning and handed him the Secretary’s letter of September 2342 enclosing a copy of my memorandum of conversations with representatives of the Carp Export and Import Corporation on September 21 and September 22. Admiral Leahy read the letter and memorandum with care.

In regard to the applications for export licenses the Admiral said that it was his offhand opinion that the Navy Department would [Page 483] have no objection, on the ground of military secrecy, to the granting of the applications for licenses to export $2,505,000 worth of ammunition; nine 16–inch guns, valued at $2,250,000; and armor plate valued at $275,100. He thought it possible, though less likely, that the Navy Department would have no objection, on the ground of military secrecy, to the granting of the application for a license to export three turrets with equipment, to the total value of $5,000,000. He said that he would submit the questions involved to the officers dealing with such matters and would direct that a reply to the Secretary’s letter be drafted without delay.43

In regard to the alleged statements of subordinate officers of the Navy Department to representatives of the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation, Limited, the New York Shipbuilding Corporation and the Sperry Gyroscope Company, Incorporated, the Admiral said that it was more than possible that some officers of his Department who were strongly opposed to sales of arms to a communistic government might have made indiscreet remarks expressing their personal opinions in regard to the proposal of the Carp Export and Import Corporation to purchase one or more battleships in this country. He said, however, that such remarks represented nothing more than the personal opinions of the officers who might have made them and that they did not represent the position of the Navy Department which coincided in every respect with the position of the Department of State as expressed in numerous recent letters and conversations. He asked me so to inform Mr. Scott Ferris.

I pointed out that, in view of the attitude of the Government toward the proposed transaction and the favorable attitude of the President as the Admiral had reported it to me in a recent conversation, the expression of a divergent opinion by responsible naval officers to representatives of the interested companies might produce a highly embarrassing situation.

The Admiral reiterated that the President had recently told him that he hoped that the Russians would be successful in their negotiations to purchase a battleship in this country and he admitted that the situation might be embarrassing if the proposed transaction were to fall through as a result of statements made by officers of his Department. He did not, however, appear to be particularly impressed by what seemed to me to be the serious implications of the situation which has arisen as a result of statements made by his subordinates.

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Joseph C. Green
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