The Ambassador in Cuba ( Braden ) to the Secretary of State
[Received 10:42 p.m.]
933. Personal for the Under Secretary of State. A decision appears to be imminent whether the Seatrain New Orleans will remain in service between Port Everglades and Habana or whether it will be withdrawn by the Army. The Seatrain New Orleans has recently made two voyages within 16 days handling virtually no southbound cargo; they have removed 978 American railway cars from Habana loaded with sugar and other merchandise. American cars in Cuba have thereby been reduced to minimum needed for continued service. If permitted to continue in the Port Everglades–Habana trade the Seatrain could if especially escorted by the Navy handle from 15,000 to 20,000 tons of cargo loaded in cars per month in each direction.[Page 358]
According to our information more barge and similar equipment is being assigned to the Florida Habana service which will result in the withdrawal of vessels suitable for handling northbound perishable commodities especially tomatoes, pineapples and other fruits and winter vegetables the exportation of which is essential to Cuba’s economy. In addition the services of the Seatrain are particularly important in connection with southbound shipments of certain essential products which must be shipped in bulk in tank cars.
The Seatrain is a specially built vessel which is of doubtful utility for purposes other than those for which it is designed as was evidenced by the difficulties experienced here in its attempts to convert the Seatrain Texas to its uses (please see my letter to George Scherer of April 2848 and subsequent correspondence regarding the Seatrain Texas).
According to my information the New Orleans is even less suitable for long voyages than the Texas due to overbearing fuel capacity, high fuel consumption and lack of speed.
In view of the above mentioned factors I feel justified in enlisting your personal intercession with the War Department and with the War Shipping Administration in favor of retaining the New Orleans in the Port Everglades–Habana service.
- Not found in Department files.↩