The Belgian Ambassador (Vander Straten-Ponthoz) to the Secretary of State
Sir: In my letter of March 22nd., No. 1857,18 I had the honor to call Your Excellency’s attention to the fact that, after May 7th., the provisional Panamanian registry granted to the four motor tankers of the Belgian Gulf Oil Company: Belgian Gulf, Good Gulf, Spidoleine and Lubrafol, will be cancelled and that the final registration of said vessels in the Panamanian Merchant Marine will be denied.
It is quite possible that upon the expiration of the temporary Panamanian registry, an attempt may be made to transfer these vessels to United States or other registry.
Accordingly, I beg to call Your Excellency’s attention to the fact that the Belgian Royal Decree of October 14, 1937, transmitted to the Department of State by note of January 8th., 1941, No. 120,18 prohibits the transfer of Belgian vessels without the prior consent of the Belgian Government. This Decree is similar to the provisions of United States law which prohibits any transfers without the consent of the United States Government after the declaration of a national emergency, and specifically provides that such transfers shall be invalid whether occurring within or without the United States. 46 U. S. C. A.—835. See also 46 U. S. C. A.—808.
In view of what I understand to be the long established practice of the United States authorities to require the submission to the Collector of the Port where transfer of registry takes place, of a certificate of the Consul of the country to which the vessel formerly belonged that the foreign registry is closed and cancelled, and in view of the provisions of Article IX of the Treaty of 1875 between the United States and Belgium, I would appreciate it if Your Excellency would take whatever steps may be appropriate to notify the competent authorities of the United States that the Government of Belgium has not cancelled or consented to the cancellation of the Belgian registry of the four vessels above mentioned.
I avail myself [etc.]