711.00111 Armament Control/Military Secrets/970

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

Mr. Scott Ferris, representing the Carp Export and Import Corporation,85 called at my office this morning. He said that he had been informed by his principals that Mr. Gibbs, the naval architect, had offered to sell them preliminary plans for a battleship for $60,000, but that he refused to reveal in advance of the transaction the tonnage of the proposed battleship or the number of guns which it would carry. Mr. Ferris said that he had been told that the plans in question had already been submitted to the Navy Department and had been discussed with officers of that Department in several conferences and approved by them. He wished me to ascertain if possible the tonnage of the proposed battleship and the caliber and the number of the guns to be carried on it.

I told Mr. Ferris that it seemed to me that Mr. Carp should obtain the desired information direct from Mr. Gibbs as the question related to a commercial transaction between the two.

I called Admiral Leahy’s office by telephone and spoke to Lieutenant Freseman in the Admiral’s absence. Lieutenant Freseman said that Mr. Gibbs had had two conferences with officers of the Navy Department, but that as far as he knew nothing definite had resulted from these conferences. It was his understanding that Mr. Gibbs was discussing preparing plans for a 35,000 ton ship.

Admiral Leahy called me by telephone this morning. He referred to my conversation yesterday with Lieutenant Freseman and said that he wanted to give me some further information in regard to the matter.

The Admiral said that he had had conferences recently both with representatives of the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation and with Mr. Gibbs. He said that Bethlehem did not wish to enter into a contract with Carp and was hoping to find in the attitude of the Navy Department toward the proposed transaction some excuse which it [Page 671] could use for not entering into a contract and some means of putting an end to the embarrassing insistence of Carp.

The Admiral said that Mr. Gibbs had asked him to let him have the plans of the West Virginia stating that he wished to use these plans as a model for the plans which he hoped to sell to Carp. The Admiral said that he had told Mr. Gibbs that if he wanted Navy plans for use in the construction of a battleship for a foreign power, he would have to apply for them in writing and that his application should be addressed to the Secretary of State. The Admiral said that he had grave doubts as to whether it would be legally possible to comply with such a request were it forthcoming and that in any case he felt pretty certain that it would be inexpedient to do so.

Joseph C. Green
  1. 220 Fifth Avenue, New York, N. Y.; registered with the Department of State as exporters of arms.