851.85/371a: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in France (Leahy)

850. You are requested to inform Marshal Pétain that the question of the use of the French vessel Normandie has become of urgent interest [Page 534] in this country on account of its continued immobilization and consequent deterioration at a time when shipping space is badly needed.

A proposal has been made by private interests in this country to purchase the vessel taking into consideration its original cost which price would probably be in excess of any sum that could be realized for the vessel under present conditions. You should urge upon the Marshal favorable consideration of this proposal, pointing out that if some arrangement cannot promptly be made a situation could develop where it might be necessary for this Government to requisition the vessel. Before proceeding to do so, however, it would be preferable to explore immediately this suggested sale.