841D.852/15: Telegram

The Minister in Ireland (Gray) to the Secretary of State

168. I entirely agree with Maritime Commission’s decision regarding application for purchase of SS Wolverine by Irish Shipping Limited and with Department’s approval thereof. Reference your number 133, December 13, 10 p.m.37

In the case of the two American ships chartered to the Irish Government and both lost presumably by enemy action, no protest was made. The first ship vanished without trace or survivors. The second was torpedoed in the morning and survivors reported sighting German submarine the evening before. Protest to all belligerents might have been made in this latter case but was not.

It would seem inadvisable to release any ship to Eire without obtaining a corresponding advantage inasmuch as the Irish Government is releasing nothing for any of the United Nations which entails a sacrifice of Irish interests. It might be pointed out in replying to the Irish note that while the right of the Irish Government to operate chartered ships as it saw fit is not questioned, these ships presumably would not have been lost if operated in United Nations convoys instead of on the faith of German assurances, that the loss was primarily American since it depleted the stock of American tonnage and is not to be measured in money while the war emergency lasts. Our chartering of these ships to Eire have had negligible propaganda value in Ireland as the Government has continuously ignored any obligation to the United States for them. Recently in speaking publicly of the Irish shipping situation, the Irish Minister of Supplies said, “We have lost our two best ships.” There was no mention of America.

It would seem from here that the press release to which you refer might be held in abeyance until the matter of a note to de Valera is definitely decided upon. Reference my number 165, December 13, noon, and preceding file relative this subject.

For your information, I have obtained from British sources the following figures relative to Irish shipping. There are under Irish register 15 ships of over 1000 gross tons with a total tonnage of 36,712. Of these, Irish Shipping Limited own 10 which are able to make trans-Atlantic crossing with a total gross tonnage of 29,000. There are also 29 small ships totalling 12,500 tons.

Except for wheat which Eire by now should be growing in adequate quantity for domestic needs but is not, this tonnage should take care of Eire’s imperative requirements.

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