740.00111 A.R./378: Telegram
The Secretary of State to the American Delegate ( Welles )
32. For the Under Secretary from Berle. Your 20, September 28, 4 p.m. Have discussed the proposed line with the Navy Department and with the President.
The President has in mind a patrol line under which the Argentine, Brazil and ourselves in cooperation patrol from a point just below Mar del Plata to the northern boundary of the United States. He believes that the Argentine government might be persuaded to take on patrolling part of the Brazilian coast to a point south of Rio and the Brazilians from there on as far north as they could, but probably to a point off Natal, and that they would have to invite us to share patrolling from there north to the southern terminus of our own patrol. Such patrols would be chiefly by destroyers, seaplanes, etc. In the event that focal areas required special patrolling, necessary measures might be worked out in consultation. This would require that arrangements be made by which Brazil would invite us to patrol a portion of her area and Brazilians and Argentines mutually agree on patrolling from Mar del Plata north.
The primary purpose of the patrol would be to prevent establishment of submarine bases and to assure that unneutral use of these coasts was not made by any belligerent. A possible measure might be understanding that unneutral use of the coast of any of the American republics would be considered as an unneutral use of the coast of all American republics, so that a ship acting unneutrally from an Argentine base might be interned if she entered a Brazilian port or the like.[Page 33]
The problem of German merchant vessels now blockaded in Latin American harbors has likewise been discussed. The probable provisions of the new Neutrality Act will be such as to release a great many American vessels which would promptly seek to enter Latin American trade, and for this reason it is not thought that the German vessels will be needed to maintain communications with the Latin American republics. Further, both the Navy and the Department are impressed by the obvious dangers of allowing German ships with German crews to engage extensively in the coastwise continental trade. The President does not believe it advantageous to create a situation permitting these ships to operate freely in the restricted zone.
British Embassy has indicated to us that it will not recognize title to German ships transferred to neutral flags, and will insist on right to capture German ships in any event. Nevertheless, it is contemplated that representations may be made to the British suggesting that German ships taken over by neutrals and put into the trans-Atlantic trade may be of great importance to them in view of the provisions of the Neutrality Act, and we plan further discussions with the British on this point.
Under these circumstances it seems to me, first, that the resolution as drafted textually may stand, but that the limitation on hostile acts might be so handled as not to release German vessels now immobilized unless or until arrangements are made to take over the blockaded vessels. The consultation committee might be so set up as to remain in continuous contact with a view to determining any particular areas, ports or lanes in which belligerent activities interrupted inter-American communications and in any such case measures might be devised for ending activities by diplomatic or naval action, or both. [Berle.]