The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in France ( Bullitt )19
920. The Government has endeavored to arrange that additional facilities be made available for the use of American citizens desiring to return to the United States. There have been many legal, technical and administrative difficulties to overcome in arranging all the details necessary to the diversion of vessels from customary routes to emergency voyages, none of which it is necessary to discuss except to remind you that the whole process has been complicated. The difficulties have now been solved to the point where arrangements have been made for the dispatch of five extra ships with a combined maximum capacity of 3520 passengers. Two of these ships have already sailed; other three about to depart. Some will go to English, some to French, ports. The ships and their respective maximum emergency passenger capacities are: Orizaba, 450; Shawnee, 675; St John, 860; Iroquois, 675; Acadia, 860.
The ports of call of these ships and probable dates of arrival will be notified to local authorities by master of vessel and to you by separate cable. It is important for you to note that the Government, acting through the Maritime Commission, has notified the operators of these extra ships that they will carry as passengers to America only bona fide American citizens. Bookings may be made through offices of the United States Lines Company.
The vessels named above are in addition to all existing and available American flag regular passenger steamers which are being turned around and despatched as expeditiously as possible.
However, in addition there are various freighters sailing with emergency space for from 18 to 25 passengers each. The owners have advised their representatives to maintain close contact with Consular officers at ports of call to the end that these ships will be immediately available for the use of American citizens, subject to Consular emergency certificate.
It is the belief of the Maritime Commission and of the Department of State that in view of the difficulties encountered and of the partial emergency involved such persons who may secure bookings and who willingly do not sail as booked should be placed at the bottom of the list of applicants for future accommodations. This opinion is reinforced by the recent last arrival of the Manhattan with approximately 200 passengers under capacity and the last sailing of the [Page 602] Exochorda from Marseilles for New York with 25 vacant accommodations out of 200 total. The Government will in the future weigh the necessity for making available extra vessels for the use of bona fide American citizens desiring to avail themselves thereof in the light of the extent to which those citizens now avail themselves of the opportunities presented.
- The same telegram was sent on September 14 to the Minister in Ireland as No. 24. The same telegram with fourth paragraph omitted was sent on the same date to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom as No. 960.↩