711.00111 Armament Control/Military Secrets/1014
Memorandum by the Chief of the Office of Arms and Munitions Control (Green)
Mr. David A. Rosoff, Director of Amtorg, called at my office this afternoon by appointment. Among the matters which he seemed particularly interested in discussing was the attempt of the Carp Export and Import Corporation to close a contract for the construction in this country of a battleship for the U. S. S. R. While speaking of that matter, however, he was careful to state several times that Amtorg had no direct interest of any kind in the proposed transaction and that he was asking for information merely in his personal and unofficial capacity. Nevertheless, he showed considerable familiarity with the history of the case and he mentioned the fact that he had discussed it with Mr. Wakeman of the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation, Limited, with Mr. Gibbs, the naval architect, and with a representative of the Sperry Gyroscope Company, Incorporated. He said that he had gained the impression from all of these gentlemen that the real reason why the necessary contracts had not been entered into was that the American companies which had been approached by Carp had not been able to obtain a definite answer as to the policy of the Government in respect to the construction of a battleship for the U. S. S. R. He mentioned specifically the fact that these gentlemen had stated that their conversations with officers of the Navy Department had not resulted in satisfactory and definite statements as to the attitude of that Department. He asked me whether I could enlighten him as to just what had happened.
As Mr. Rosoff was so careful to emphasize that Amtorg had no connection with the proposed transaction and as I was unwilling to give him information which could possibly be considered confidential, I confined my reply to his question to generalities. I said that I thought that the policy of the Government in respect to the proposed transaction had been made perfectly clear to those who had a legitimate interest in the matter, and that the real reason why the negotiations had been unsuccessful was that the shipbuilding companies and others had been unwilling to enter into contracts, the carrying out of which they feared might in the long run cause them endless difficulty. I said that for various reasons, which I did not enter into, they had not become imbued with the confidence which was a necessary prerequisite to entering into contracts which would involve such tremendous expenditure and at least two or three years for their completion. I said that there had been endless conversations but that things had [Page 673] proceeded in a circle and that I did not know whether the matter could ever be straightened out at this late date. In response to his request for a suggestion as to how the difficulties which had been encountered might be overcome, I suggested the possibility that something might be accomplished if the Carp Export and Import Corporation were to place all of the contacts with Government departments and all of the negotiations for contracts in the hands of some outstanding firm of lawyers with wide experience in the handling of large-scale business transactions.