L/T Files

The Administrator of the War Shipping Administration ( Land ) to the British Minister of War Transport ( Leathers )

My Dear Lord Leathers: I am transmitting herewith a memorandum setting out the terms upon which the vessels referred to in the President’s letter of May 23 [28], 1943 to the Prime Minister1 have been transferred to the British flag under Lend Lease arrangements for temporary wartime duty and I should be glad to have your confirmation that these terms are adequately set out in the memorandum. You will see that the memorandum deals in broad terms with certain matters on which it may be necessary to work out more detailed operating arrangements. Thus the provision that United States dollar revenues earned by the vessels shall be accounted for will require detailed arrangements to be agreed by you with the Foreign Economic Administration. Again, when the question of redelivery arises it will be necessary for us to agree as to the place and time at which redelivery is to take place. Finally, although not expressly stated in the memorandum, it is my understanding that you will consult with me before any major structural alterations are undertaken in respect to any of the vessels.

The enclosed memorandum specifically refers only to the vessels transferred in accordance with the above-mentioned letter from the President to the Prime Minister. The original intention was that this letter should cover 200 Liberty ships. In fact, as a result of various modifications which have been agreed to suit our mutual convenience, the vessels transferred have consisted of 182 Liberty ships and 13 C–l ships, the additional five Liberty ships having been released to the United States Navy Department for conversion to meet special requirements of the British Admiralty. Though the memorandum expressly [Page 741] refers only to the 195 vessels, we ask that if you approve of the terms thereof you also agree that the same terms shall be applicable to other vessels which have been or may hereafter be transferred to the British flag for temporary wartime duty on Lend Lease terms, except as to any particular vessels which it may be agreed are to be excluded from the effect of a bareboat arrangement under these terms.

I shall be glad if you will confirm that the enclosed memorandum is satisfactory to you and that the further points I have mentioned above are also agreeable to you.2


E. S. Land

Memorandum of Agreement

Having reference to the arrangements set forth in the President’s letter of May 23 [28], 1943 to the Prime Minister whereby a number of vessels were to be transferred to the British flag on a bareboat basis for temporary wartime duty, it is agreed that the following shall constitute the terms of the bareboat charter under which these vessels have been transferred.

The vessels which have been transferred “as is, where is” in accordance with the President’s directive shall remain under the British flag until six months after the termination of the present war as proclaimed by the President of the United States, or such earlier time as the Congress of the United States by concurrent resolution or the President of the United States by proclamation may designate.
The vessels shall be employed in accordance with policies approved by the Combined Shipping Boards or their successors.
The hire for the vessels during the currency of these arrangements shall be as determined under the Mutual Aid arrangements from time to time in force between the contracting governments. Net United States dollar revenues earned by the vessels shall be paid over to the United States in accordance with arrangements to be agreed between the Ministry of War Transport and the Foreign Economic Administration and such payments shall be reflected in the determination of hire.
The vessels shall be manned, victualled, navigated, operated and maintained in a thoroughly efficient state by the Ministry of War Transport and upon the expiration of this agreement the vessels, unless lost, shall be redelivered in such condition as the vessels are in on the termination of their service and an estimate shall be made of the cost to restore each vessel to her original condition, fair wear and [Page 742] tear excepted, such estimated costs to be reflected in the determination of hire referred to above. The Ministry of War Transport shall not declare any of these vessels to be a constructive total loss without the consent of the War Shipping Administration. The total loss of any vessel shall be dealt with in accordance with the mutual aid arrangements from time to time in force between the contracting governments on the basis that it is a Ministry of War Transport liability.
Subject to any agreement between the contracting governments for settling claims and meeting liabilities, the Ministry of War Transport shall indemnify and render harmless the War Shipping Administration and each of the vessels against any liabilities, of whatsoever nature, arising out of the operation of any of the vessels during the currency of this agreement.
The provisions of the British Master Agreement of February 23, 1942 are applicable to this agreement.3
  1. Documentation relating to the “Trident” Conference held at Washington in May 1943 between President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill, with their advisers, is scheduled for publication in a forthcoming volume, Foreign Relations, The Conferences at Washington and Casablanca, 1941–1943.
  2. Lord Leathers, in a letter dated at London, December 9, 1944, replied to Admiral Land as follows: “I have pleasure in confirming that I accept the terms of your letter and the accompanying Memorandum as placing on record the understanding between us in this matter.” (L/T Files)
  3. The preliminary agreement between the United States and the United Kingdom regarding principles applying to mutual aid in the prosecution of the war against aggression was signed at Washington on February 23, 1942; for text, see Department of State Executive Agreement Series No. 241, or 56 Stat, (pt 2) 1433. For statement issued by the White House on February 24, with explanation and text of agreement, see Department of State Bulletin, February 28, 1942, p. 190.