340.1115A/2249a: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Minister in Egypt (Kirk)

486. For Consul, Port Said (Suez).

In accordance with its desire to assist in every possible way the return of Americans to the United States from dangerous areas of the world, the Department has for some time been corresponding with the Maritime Commission regarding the availability of accommodations on American vessels for American citizens desiring to return to the United States from the Red Sea area. Department has now been informed by the Maritime Commission that it has written to all companies operating American flag vessels to the Red Sea to issue necessary instructions to the masters of their vessels as well as to their agents in the Red Sea area to cooperate with the American Consul at Suez in arranging for the transportation of the number of passengers that can be handled in accommodations available on their vessels.
You may therefore refer to above instructions and whenever occasion may require, apprise the masters of American flag vessels calling at Suez of the number of American citizens desiring accommodations for the journey to the United States and inquire for the information of such Americans whether any passengers can be accommodated. All arrangements regarding the booking of passage should of course be a matter to be decided directly between the persons desiring passage and the local agents or the masters of the vessels. The ships going to the Red Sea area are not passenger vessels and the primary purpose of their voyage is to carry freight for national defense needs. In general, they lack sufficient crew, subsistence stores and equipment to handle passengers. Furthermore, their homeward route is always uncertain, may be very circuitous and any passengers taken on at Suez might therefore be on board a long time before reaching the United States. Masters must necessarily bear these considerations in mind when considering whether their vessels may be used for carrying passengers even in an emergency and there must be no demand made of them by, or insistence on the part of, the Department’s representatives that passengers be carried, in view of the master’s responsibility for his ship. Your function is merely to inform the masters of whatever demand there may be from time to time for such emergency accommodations and if necessary to facilitate communications between the masters and prospective passengers who must make their own arrangements and travel at their own risk.
If circumstances make it necessary and desirable for any vessel to accommodate an increased number of passengers beyond the limit permitted by the vessel’s inspection certificate you may further cooperate [Page 425] by issuing, at the request of the master, an emergency consular certificate in accordance with the provisions of diplomatic serial 3047, March 28, 1939,39 and you are hereby granted blanket authority to issue such certificates whenever time will not permit prior communication with Department. Report fully to Department all particulars in each case of discretionary issuance of consular certificates. Such certificates should cover only accommodations for American citizens and their accompanying alien spouses and unmarried minor alien children.
The Department desires to be kept currently informed of the situation.
Under cover of its mail instruction no. 45 of September 4,40 Department furnished Legation copies of the pertinent correspondence mentioned in paragraph 1.