Memorandum by the Director of the Office of European Affairs ( Matthews ) to the Under Secretary of State ( Acheson )


Summary of Agreement Drafted in Bermuda Concerning Civil Use of United States 99-Year Leased Bases 14

The agreement reserves our military rights and provides that Kindley Field (Bermuda), Coolidge Field (Antigua) and Beane Field (St. Lucia) will be open for regular use.

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The British have not yet agreed to the unrestricted use of Atkinson Field (British Guiana) but will probably do so.

The other Bases, which are situated in territories where adequate civil airports exist, will be used as bad-weather alternates. These are Carlson and Waller (Trinidad), Vernam (Jamaica), and Harmon and Argentia (Newfoundland).

The agreement further provides that civil aircraft of the United Kingdom and of all countries signatory to the Two Freedom Agreement15 may use the Bases for non-traffic stops. Countries not signatory but having bilateral agreements with the United States or the United Kingdom may use them with the concurrence of the United States and the United Kingdom.

The United Kingdom agrees not to grant carriers of third countries greater traffic rights than those accorded by such countries to United States and United Kingdom carriers.

The British have not yet agreed, and probably will not agree to the exercise by United States carriers of Fifth Freedom rights between the Bases and points outside United Kingdom territory. They may agree to permit United States citizens and mail and cargo originating in the United States to be carried between such Bases as have been opened for regular use. As presently drafted, the pertinent provision reserves to United States carriers all the rights which may have already been granted them by the United Kingdom or Colonial Governments.

The British propose that the initial agreement shall be for ten years. The United States delegates argued for a 20-year term lest airlines and Colonial authorities try to amortize their investments in facilities over that short period of time with the result that charges would be exorbitant.

The draft agreement will not be signed in Bermuda but will form the basis of an exchange of notes between the two Governments.16

  1. The text of this draft of the bases agreement is found in U.S. Delegation document USD–14.
  2. This refers to the International Air Services Transit Agreement concluded at Chicago on December 7, 1944, Department of State Executive Agreement Series No. 487, or 59 Stat. (pt. 2) 1693. The terms of this agreement accorded to signatories the first two of the so-called “Five Freedoms of the Air”, providing for the grant by each contracting state to other contracting states of (1) the privilege to fly across its territory without landing and (2) the privilege to land for non-traffic purposes.
  3. The Department was informed by letter of January 25 from the Secretary of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Brig. Gen. A. J. McFarland, that the Joint Chiefs had no objection to the draft agreement from a military point of view, and the Delegation at Bermuda was so informed in a Departmental telegram of the same date (811.34544/1–2246 and 841.796/1–2546, respectively).