The Secretary of the Navy ( Forrestal ) to the Secretary of State

My Dear Mr. Secretary: This refers to my previous letter dated 4 September 1944, copy enclosed,1 regarding the international control of mine clearance in European waters after the defeat of Germany. In the fourth paragraph of this letter it was stated that “the United States might well be represented in the consideration of the problems of such mine clearance in an advisory capacity only”.

Since the date of the above letter, several meetings have been held in London under Admiralty auspices at which a draft agreement on post-war mine clearance has been prepared. U.S. Navy representatives have requested that a paragraph be inserted in the draft agreement stating that United States membership would be in an advisory capacity only and that such membership would not obligate the U.S. Navy to furnish minesweeping forces for mine clearance in European waters. Russian representatives, however, have been unable to agree to the inclusion of such a paragraph on the grounds that all members should be on an equal footing and that no mention should be made in the draft agreement of the extent or limitations of any governments’ participation in actual minesweeping. In order to meet Russian objections, United States representatives have been authorized to agree to omission of the paragraph in question, thereby putting United States representation on a full membership basis.

Therefore, since no mention will be made in the draft agreement that the United States will not be obligated to participate in the actual minesweeping, it is requested that the British, Russian and French Governments be advised substantially as follows:

In regard to the International control of post-war mine clearance of European waters, now being discussed in London, representation of the United States on an equal footing with other nations has been authorized. Since large numbers of United States minecraft have [Page 1363] already been made available to Allied European nations under the terms of lend-lease, since the United States now has heavy minesweeping commitments in the Pacific which are becoming increasingly difficult to meet from the remaining minesweepers available, and since these commitments cannot be reduced without weakening the war effort in this area, United States representation in the international control of Post-War Mine Clearance in European waters will not obligate the U.S. Navy to furnish additional minesweeping equipment for such mine clearance or to participate therein with its own equipment.

Sincerely yours,

James Forrestal

[On November 22, 1945, at Admiralty House, London, an agreement constituting an International Organization for the Clearance of Mines hi European Waters was signed by the following representatives: Engineer Rear Admiral S. Brykin, Soviet Navy; Captain Roland Fremont Pryce, United States Navy; Rear Admiral Antoine Sala, French Navy; Vice Admiral Edward Leigh Stuart King, Royal Navy. The United States, British, and French signatories were authorized to accept the document on behalf of their respective governments. For the text of this document, see United Nations Security Council, Official Records, Second Year, Supplement No. 6, Annex to the Official Record of the 107th Meeting, February 18, 1947, Exhibit III. The Department of State copy is filed under 800.83/1–446.]

  1. Not printed (800.83/990); it referred to a proposal for an international central board and zone boards to take charge of mine clearance in European waters, set forth in an aide-mémoire of May 8, 1944, from the British Embassy to the Department of State (not printed).