865.30/3–1248: Telegram

The Ambassador in Italy ( Dunn ) to the Secretary of State

secret

1094. Four Power Naval Commission work is subject. As previously reported only two naval ships have yet been transferred to any recipient power. Sloop Eritrea and tanker Tarvisio were transferred to France under special agreement between Commission and Italian Government whereby France accepted ships delivered without refit by Italian crews.1 This represented first overture on part of Italians bearing on the below.

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Department is already informed that strong representations have been made by Italian Government to French Government asking latter to follow lead of US and UK in renouncing ships. Italy would then in bilateral negotiations agree to make restitution for seizures of French ships in Toulon and all recriminations would be dropped. French Government unable agree renouncement as under terms Four Power protocol renounced warships must be scrapped or sunk. They have however expressed willingness to negotiate under different approach. To this end Pryce has been given following information by Admiral Rebuffel, French member of Commission:

French Embassy Rome has been authorized approach Foreign Office along these lines:

a.
Italy has estimated that $16 million is required to refit all ships of annex XII B to be transferred, 7 million of which is for French allotment. There is every indication this money will not be appropriated in near future.
b.
France will ask Italy to appropriate as soon possible only 1 million to make necessary voyage repairs necessary get ships to France where latter would effect refits at own expense.
c.
Two governments would execute commercial agreement at same time whereby Italy would supply necessary spare parts, certain deficiencies raw material and technical assistance.
d.
Mr. Bidault is expected bring up this subject in forthcoming conversations with Count Sforza at Turin.

In general relation to above Pryce reports that progress and trend of Commission’s deliberations and private conversations he has had with Admiral Manger2 indicate that for political and financial reasons no further transfer of ships will take place prior elections. Present government will not accept responsibility. French are making every effort obtain early deliveries. Yugoslavs have asked to send technical inspectors Italy with view of accepting some ships immediately without refit. Greeks also wish inspect cruiser Savoia with view of accepting ship with only voyage repairs subsequent two year refit to be arranged bilaterally later. Soviets, while not relinquishing any claims for complete refit, are not pressing for delivery but deferring demands under cloak of disagreements in Commission.

Commission now in virtual agreement with Italians in regard general methods of transfer and in inspections and trials to precede transfer. Salient points under methods of transfer include:

(a)
Ships to be stricken from Navy list prepared by civilian yards and delivered by Italian civilian crews with ceremony.
(b)
Numbers of observers and inspectors to be permitted enter [Page 975] Italy in civilian dress agreed upon for each power. (Russians had originally demanded entry full naval crews of recipient power and full dress turnovers in Italy later reduced demands to 300 civilians. They will be permitted 110.)
(c)
Ports of delivery agreed upon for France, Salins d’Hyeres or Toulon; Greece, Keratsini; for Yugoslavia, Spalato; for unrenounced ships of UK, port to be decided later. Soviets have asked for delivery Odessa which out of desire get ships out of Mediterranean after transfer, Italians have agreed to subject to satisfactory arrangements regarding guarantees for prompt repatriation Italian personnel and provisions for replenishment of fuel, lubricants, stores during long voyage.
(d)
Limited number Italian instructors to remain in Soviet ships after transfer subject to private arrangement with shipyards and approval by Italian Government.

Matter of progress destruction of submarines and renounced warships will be subject of separate telegram.3

Captain Pryce requests pass to CNO.

Sent Department as 1094, repeated Moscow as 29, Paris 149, London and Admiral Conolly 109.

Dunn
  1. In telegram 529 of February 6, 1948, not printed, Dunn reported receipt by the Commission of a letter from the Italian Foreign Office stating that it would publish the Annex on Sunday, February 8th, and would at the same time announce the transfer to France of the Eritrea and the Tarvisio. The French, he reported, were accepting these ships without overhaul. (865.30/2–648)
  2. Adm. Francesco Maugeri, Chief of Staff of the Italian Navy, January 1947–November 1948.
  3. In telegram 1131 of March 15, 1948, not printed, Dunn reported that the work of dismantling the battleships Vittorio Veneto and Italia at La Spezia was proceeding very slowly (865.30/3–1848).

    In telegram 1201 of March 18, 1948, not printed, Dunn reported regarding the scrapping of the 31 Italian submarines, with minimum destruction to be completed by April 15, and the planning for arrangements for inspection by the naval advisers (865.30/3–1848).