300.115(39)/197: Telegram

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

2461. Department’s 1481, November 22, 8 p.m.; Department’s 1480, November 22, 7 p.m., last sentence;85 and Department’s 1374,86 fourth paragraph. This cable and preceding cables have been thoroughly discussed with Ministry of Economic Warfare. The position taken by the Ministry of Economic Warfare is that that Ministry has the right under international law to detain ships and cargoes unless this Ministry is satisfied that specific items in the cargo will not be forwarded from destination to Germany. If their investigation convinces them that the items of the cargo will not be forwarded to Germany they will be released for forwarding. If the ship wishes to proceed pending investigation of such items as are detained, the items may be either unloaded or a guarantee given that they will be returned either to the United Kingdom or the United States but they have no obligation to accept such guaranty if they do not wish to do so although usually they are accepted. The Ministry of Economic Warfare does not feel that the detention of such vessel gives cause for legitimate claim against the British Government but states that obviously any one who feels they have a claim can make a claim against the British Government. The Ministry of Economic Warfare feels that the question as to their right to detain ships pending their own investigations as to consignees and cargo is a broad question of international law which should be taken up with the Foreign Office. Inasmuch as the contents of Department’s 1446, November 17, 5 p.m., have been communicated in a note from this Embassy to the Foreign Office [Page 810] and a reply is being awaited which covers this point I do not believe we can get any further examination dealing with the Ministry of Economic Warfare on this point as separate from the Foreign Office.

  1. Telegram No. 1480 not printed; in the last sentence the Department inquired whether the Ambassador had received expression of opinion regarding Oakman detention (300.115(39)/188).
  2. November 4, p. 803.