740.0011 European War 1939/9887a: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Winant)

1230. Please transmit the following message to the Former Naval Person:1

“We propose immediately to take the following steps in relation to the security of the Western Hemisphere, which steps will favorably affect your shipping problem. It is important for domestic political reasons which you will readily understand that this action be taken by us unilaterally and not after diplomatic conversations between you and us. Therefore before taking this unilateral action I want to tell you about the proposal.

This Government proposes to extend the present so-called security zone and patrol areas which have been in effect since very early in the War2 to a line covering all North Atlantic waters west of about west longitude 25 degrees. We propose to utilize aircraft and naval vessels working from Greenland, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, the United States, Bermuda and West Indies, with possible later extension to Brazil if this can be arranged. We will want in great secrecy notification of movement of convoys so our patrol units can seek out any ships or planes of aggressor nations operating west of the new line of the security zone. We will immediately make public to you position aggressor ships or planes when located in our patrol area west of west longitude 25 degrees.

We propose to refuel our ships at sea where advisable. We suggest your longer shipping hauls move as much as possible west of new line up to latitude of the Northwest approaches.

We have declared Red Sea area no longer a combat zone. We propose sending all types of goods in unarmed American flag ships to Egypt or any other non-belligerent port via Bed Sea or Persian Gulf. [Page 837] We think we can work out sending wheat and other goods in American ships to Greenland or Iceland through the next 6 months.

We hope to make available for direct haul to England a large amount of your present shipping which is now utilized for other purposes. We expect to make use of Danish ships very soon and Italian ships in about 2 months.

I believe advisable that when this new policy is adopted here no statement be issued on your end. It is not certain I would make specific announcement. I may decide to issue necessary naval operations orders and let time bring out the existence of the new patrol area. Roosevelt.”

  1. Code name for Winston S. Churchill, British Prime Minister.
  2. See Foreign Relations, 1939, vol. v, pp. 85 ff.