The Ambassador in Venezuela ( Corrigan ) to the Secretary of State

No. 1474

Sir: With reference to my telegrams Nos. 301, December 13, 2:00 p.m., and 322, December 22, 7:00 p.m., respectively, I have the honor to report that as a result of my conversations with officials in the oil industry and military and naval officers, both Venezuelan and American, the possibilities to be guarded against in adequately protecting the petroleum supply emanating from this country are the following:

In Venezuela itself the danger of possible sabotage is an ever present one, and to guard against this the oil companies have requested and obtained special military protection for their various properties in addition to the intensification of the protection facilities already functioning. However, in addition there is the always present danger of attack from the sea by air on the producing installations, in spite of the risk to the enemy of being intercepted by the American patrol in the Atlantic and being unable to escape after such an attack.

A danger greater than that which might result from an attack on producing wells by sabotage or from the air arises in the possibility of an air or submarine attack on the refineries at Aruba and Curaçao. Here it is considered that danger from sabotage or from fifth column activity can be dealt with, but there is particular apprehension concerning the possibility of a submarine attack which might not only damage the refineries but destroy all or a part of the fleet of tanks which furnish the life line for the transportation of petroleum from Venezuelan ports to Aruba and Curaçao. This danger is one which I consider should be guarded against to the fullest extent possible with sufficient forces to prevent any such eventuality. It is the opinion of some experts that a submarine attack which would damage the refineries and put out of commission the specially designed shallow draft tankers which ply between Venezuela and the Dutch islands, could do the greatest damage and is most to be feared.

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There exists at present no adequate defense against such an attack, as far as Venezuela is concerned, and it is urged that immediate steps be taken to provide security for this vital industry.

Respectfully yours,

Frank P. Corrigan