300.115(39)/41: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Kennedy) to the Secretary of State

2236. Your 1320, October 28, 9 p.m., was conveyed to the Ministry of Economic Warfare and in reply the following note has been received:

“It is the case as stated in the Washington telegram that the steamship Oakman had on board only 2,000 tons of petroleum coke for Genoa besides a cargo of cotton. A large part of this cotton was however consigned to 15 different consignees in Switzerland and Italy which necessitated enquiries being made in those two countries as to the ultimate destination of the cotton. These enquiries were made by telegraph and as soon as replies had been received of a nature to satisfy the Contraband Committee that the cotton in question was for internal consumption in Italy and Switzerland the whole cargo was released and the steamship Oakman was free to proceed on her voyage.

Every effort is made by the contraband control authorities at Gibraltar and in the United Kingdom to eliminate unnecessary delay and to [Page 802] avoid unduly long detention of ships at Gibraltar but it is essential that those authorities should satisfy themselves as to the ultimate destination of the cotton and other important cargo so as to ensure that it shall not reach Germany.

It would be of the greatest help to the shippers of cotton and other goods, the ship owners on whose ships the goods are carried and the authorities here, if advance information could be furnished to this Department by telegram or air mail as to the ships’ cargoes, showing the commodities shipped, their quantities and the consignors and consignees, so that enquiries might at least be begun before the vessel concerned reached Gibraltar.

I should be grateful if you could convey this information to the Department of State.”

As long as present conditions governing the administration of contraband control exist, American interests would be better served by cooperation with the suggestions made by the Ministry of Economic Warfare. It might be suggested to all shippers of American-owned goods to neutral countries in Europe and of American-owned ships proceeding to Europe to furnish this Embassy by air mail if possible a copy of all ships’ manifests and full information as to consignees and the American interest in such American ships or American-owned cargo, with all supporting documents, as far in advance of sailing as possible. The Embassy would immediately take the necessary action on these documents in conjunction with the British Ministry of Economic Warfare with a view to speeding up the handling of these ships and cargo.