The Liaison Officer ( Wilson ) to the Chargé in Cuba ( Briggs )

Dear Ellis: Larry Duggan has referred to Bonsal13 and me your letter of February 169 in which you state that Colonel Boyden, the [Page 257] Naval Attaché, has some difficulty in reconciling two memoranda on airplanes for Cuba prepared by Colonel Barber14 and Captain Spears.15 An inquiry which has been made reveals that there is no conflict between the six observation planes mentioned by Captain Spears and the seven Army planes mentioned by Colonel Barber. The six observation planes are Amphibians, Model G21B, and have no connection with the five SNO–1’s and the two JRF–5’s referred to by Colonel Barber. With reference to the dates of delivery, Captain Spears tells me that in all probability only two of the G21B’s could be delivered this calendar year owing to lack of funds. The remainder will be delivered later.

We have consulted the Navy Department on the subject of cabin cruisers and other matters to which you referred in your telegram of February 21.16 We have been told that, although there are no cabin cruisers capable of being used as patrol boats available at present, the Bureau of Ships has been requested to expedite the delivery of the 83-foot coast guard patrol boats which are under construction for Cuba under the Lend-Lease agreement.17 It is hoped that the ships will be delivered during the course of the present calendar year. Furthermore, Cuba is now being detached from the Tenth Naval District at San Juan and transferred to the Seventh Naval District at Key West. This will enable the maintenance of a permanent communication by radio which it is believed will be of considerable assistance in case of emergency. The Commandant of the Seventh Naval District has been requested to communicate with your Naval Attaché in order to provide close liaison between his district and the Cuban Navy. With reference to the dispatch of destroyers, patrol boats and aircraft to Habana, the Office of the Commander-in-Chief of the Fleet is giving this matter consideration. This office points out, however, the difficulty of detaching vessels or aircraft, in view of the critical situation which exists in the southern part of the Caribbean. We understand, of course, the alarm felt by the Cuban people and will do everything possible to assist them consistent with the vital necessity of keeping our fighting fronts adequately reinforced. In the long run, this policy should be the best protection for the Cubans.

The advisability of establishing a Defense Commission or some similar organization has been again brought to the attention of the War and Navy Departments. Both of these Departments are now considering the question sympathetically so that I believe we will bring [Page 258] the matter to a satisfactory conclusion very soon. We shall, of course, let you know as soon as plans have been sufficiently completed.

Sincerely yours,

Orme Wilson
  1. Philip W. Bonsal became Chief of the Division of the American Republics March 13.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Col. Henry A. Barber, War Plans Division of the General Staff.
  4. Capt. W. O. Spears, Pan American Division, Navy Department.
  5. Not printed.
  6. For text of agreement, signed November 7, 1941, see Foreign Relations, 1941, vol. vii, p. 122.