800.85/249a: Circular telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to Chiefs of Mission in the American Republics

The United States representative, the Under Secretary of State, today presented to the special subcommittee of the Inter-American Financial and Economic Advisory Committee which is studying the question of the vessels immobilized in ports of the other American republics the following tentative plan:

  • “1) The basic principle of the plan is that the vessels now lying in American ports shall be utilized in accordance with the resolution of April 26, 1941 in such a manner as to promote the defense of the economies of the American republics as well as the peace and security of the continent.
  • 2) To this end there should be an immediate transfer of such vessels to active service. Just and adequate compensation for such vessels shall be made.
  • 3) In order to attain the maximum efficiency in the operation of available shipping, there must be the closest cooperation among the maritime authorities of the ship-operating nations of the Western Hemisphere in planning the most effective use of all available vessels. This cooperation must extend to the allocation of particular vessels to the several trade routes; to efficient scheduling where more than one shipping line serves an individual port or nation; to the diversion of at least minimum shipping facilities to those nations not reasonably adequately served and in which there lie no or not sufficient inactive vessels to alleviate at least partially the situation; and to the exchange or interchange among the ship-operating nations of vessels of various types in order that each may operate the type of vessels which it is in a position to handle and which are appropriate to the type of commerce to be borne.
  • 4) It is recognized that several of the American nations operate merchant marines and are in a position to handle efficiently the operation of some or all of the inactive vessels lying in their ports. Other American republics may not have the appropriate organization to operate ships or may not desire to undertake to do so. In such cases, the Government of the United States and United States shipping companies are prepared, in the closest cooperation and coordination with services provided by other ship-operating nations of the Western Hemisphere, to operate for their account or in any other appropriate way those vessels other American republics do not operate themselves. The Government of the United States is also prepared to make appropriate arrangements to take over and operate any such vessels in general services.
  • 5) The Government of the United States has been informed that the British Government agrees to recognize the transfers of vessels resulting from this plan of operation and to waive its belligerent rights so long as the following conditions are met:
    The vessels transferred are operated in accordance with this plan.
    The vessels are operated under the flag of any American republic in inter-American trade, or by the Government of the United States in general services in accordance with paragraph
    Such service of the vessels now inactive shall not result in the diversion of any other vessels owned or controlled by Governments or nationals of an American republic to services inimical to the interests of Great Britain.
    Any funds or proceeds from such vessels shall not be made available to the governments or nationals of the countries whose flags they flew until the present war is terminated.
    Crews of the vessels shall be nationals of the countries whose flag the vessels fly or shall be comprised of officers and personnel satisfactory to the Inter-American Financial and Economic Advisory Committee.
  • 6) The Government of the United States is prepared to render through the Maritime Commission every possible technical assistance and cooperation to the Governments of the other American republics.”

The subcommittee is composed of the delegates of the countries in whose ports such vessels lie. The proposal was well received in the subcommittee and each delegate was requested to communicate individually at once with his own Government, asking for comments and suggestions.