Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. George F. Scherer of the Division of the American Republics

Participants: Mr. Morse, War Shipping Administration
Mr. Acheson, Assistant Secretary
Mr. Duggan
Mr. Collado41
Mr. Corbett42
Mr. Scherer

Mr. Morse stated that he had come to the Department to give a complete picture of a situation that is about to arise with regard to shipping to Cuba.

According to Mr. Morse, the Navy has requested and will obtain in the very near future the two car ferries plying between Port Everglades and Habana, and carrying 26 cars on a six-day per week schedule. These vessels appear to be ideally suited for work as mine layers.

The remaining service by which railroad cars are carried between the two countries, consists of two vessels of the Seatrain Lines, Inc., at present running on a one-trip per week schedule between New Orleans and Habana. The President of these lines has proposed that the New York terminal facilities be transferred to Boca Grande, Florida, and that one of the remaining vessels be transferred to a route between that city and Habana. Mr. Morse stated that this possibility had been carefully investigated by the Seatrain Lines, and that it appears entirely practicable. It was estimated, for example, that some 710,000 tons of sugar alone could be moved to the United States annually, by means of one Seatrain of this route.

Mr. Morse spoke of the request made by the War Department for the two remaining vessels.

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The unfortunate effect on Cuba was touched upon and it was determined that the Department would present its views to the War Shipping Administration for use in discussing the matter further with the War Department. The approach would be to determine, if possible, the minimum import tonnage to Cuba from the United States, covering her essential needs, below which minimum it would be difficult to go without serious repercussions.

Shipping facilities to move this minimum tonnage would probably require either the retention of a car ferry or Seatrain service, or the substitution of other adequate service.

A telephone request was made of the Embassy at Habana for an estimate of minimum tonnage requirements on an annual basis.

  1. Emilio G. Collado, Executive Secretary, Board of Economic Operations of the Department of State.
  2. Jack C. Corbett, Assistant Executive Secretary, Board of Economic Operations.