865.30/8–1948: Telegram

The Chargé in Italy ( Byington ) to the Secretary of State


3416. Referring to Embtels 31971 and 2975,2 the following Italian ships have not [now] been transferred without refit to France:

Sloop Eritrea; tanker Tarvisio; light cruisers Regolo and Scipione; destroyers Mitsagliere, Legionario, Velite and Ortani; tugs Ercole, Nereo, Porto Quieto, Porto Tricase, Vado and Taormina. Greece has received water carrier Aterno without refit. Seven minesweeps are in process of being delivered Yugoslavia without refit now. Continued Italian stalling in connection transfer of ships to Russia has resulted in extreme Soviet indignation since no progress has yet been made bilaterally to reach agreement. As it stands now the Italians as previously reported, have merely asked the Soviet Government to consider renouncing part or all of their share.

The Soviet member is demanding that Naval Commission recommend Ambassadors take corrective action and in this connection has cabled a proposed letter to be signed by all four Ambassadors.

Turnover of Russian ships is linked in protocol with return of loaned US and UK ships and Department’s views have been expressed directly to Italians that we see no way of avoiding Russian transfers.

The Soviet proposed letter is factual and would extend to 15 September the date for delivery of 33 ships without refit but is couched in harsh, rude and undiplomatic language.

If Department considers that we must associate ourselves with a concerted protest at this time we will insist that such protest be drafted in courteous diplomatic language. Please instruct earliest.

Captain Pryce request pass to Navy (London for Admiral Conolly).

Sent Department 3416; repeated Paris 53, London 309, Moscow 89.

  1. In this telegram of July 29, 1948, not printed, Byington reported that the Italians had transferred two destroyers and four tugs to France; that they had agreed to transfer seven motor mine sweepers to Yugoslavia; and that the Soviets had addressed a new note to Italy regarding their share (865.30/7–2948).
  2. This telegram of July 12, 1948, not printed, summarized the Italo-French naval agreement to be signed on July 14 (865.30/7–1248).