Memorandum of Conversation, by the Assistant Secretary of State (Long)
The Norwegian Ambassador came in at his request. He stated that Norway had received six ships from the War Shipping Administration and that they would receive two more in the near future, which would make a total of eight. Norway was very appreciative of this favorable action on the part of the United States and would like to record its appreciation. In addition, however, the Ambassador desired to call attention to the desire of Norway to have additional vessels and he expressed the hope that the Department of State could support the thought that Norway should receive additional vessels. He stated that his original conversation had contemplated ten vessels at the time and additional vessels later on. So far they had received eight vessels and he trusted that intentions of the American Government would permit the allocation to them from time to time in the future and during the rest of this year of additional tonnage.
I asked the Ambassador whether the pool of Norwegian seamen had been exhausted by placing them upon the vessels which they had so far received. I recalled that he had had a number of seamen “on the beach” and that that was one of the reasons why vessels should [Page 489]be assigned to Norway so that those men could be utilized in the line of their profession and as sailors on the high seas presently serving in the Allied cause.
The Ambassador replied that many of the Norwegian sailors now in this country had taken jobs in other activities but he was sure they would always be able to man vessels. They had a great many captains and mates but did not have so many common sailors. In response to my inquiry as to whether or not they card-indexed the men when they came ashore so that they could be located at their places of occupation and summoned to resume their place aboard ship, he stated that he was not certain but that he thought that some such arrangement was carried on so that they could be reached.
I told the Ambassador that we were of course sympathetic to Norway’s desire to have ships but I let it be plainly inferred that if Norway was to have ships to fly the Norwegian flag and be manned by Norwegian crews to help in the Allied cause, it would be expected that they would be in a position to put crews on those vessels. I stated in principle the interest of the Department in furthering the plan to furnish Norway tonnage for the duration.
[No further diplomatic correspondence on this subject found in Department files. Presumably the transfer of ships was handled directly by the War Shipping Administration.]