The Minister in the Dominican Republic (Norweb) to the Secretary of State

No. 901

Sir: I have the honor to report that interest has been evinced by Mr. H. N. Hansard, Administrator of the Naviera Dominicana, C. por A., (Trujillo owned) concerning the possible acquisition of former German vessels which are now in neutral ports in the Netherland West Indies. Mr. Hansard brought up the subject at first as a hypothetical question as to whether there would be any complications if such vessels had been transferred to Netherlands ownership and flag prior to the European war. Nevertheless, in spite of protestations to the effect that Dominican interests would never even consider dealing with Nazi [Page 55] Germany during times such as the present, it was obvious that what he had in mind were the bargains that could doubtless be obtained if the Naviera Dominicana could, with impunity, purchase German ships which had been rendered useless either by internment in neutral ports or inability to run the blockade. If such acquisitions could be made without complications, however, there is little doubt as to what action the Naviera Dominicana would take.

Mr. Hansard finally concluded, or intimated as much to an officer of the Legation, that perhaps the risks involved would not be worth any bargain, no matter how attractive the price.

I might add in conclusion that ever since its inception in November 1938 the Naviera Dominicana has been trying to build up a Dominican merchant marine by the purchase of old and outmoded or condemned vessels. Immediately after it was organized it acquired the S. S. Presidente Trujillo of the Dominican Navy at a reputed price of $40,000 which had previously been purchased from the Empresa Naviera de Cuba for $60,000, and in December 1938 it purchased the S. S. Mayan (American) from Mr. Benitez Rexach, which had until November 1938 been owned by the Grace Line. The price that was supposed to have been paid was $16,000.

This in itself would explain the urge for bargains, but added to this is the expectation that, with the elimination of German shipping as a result of the European war and the partial disruption of normal services of the other belligerents, a very favorable opportunity now exists for the new Dominican merchant marine to flourish and grow strong at the expense of others.

Respectfully yours,

R. Henry Norweb