Editorial Note

Termination of the Work of the Four Power Commission in 1949

After the Turkish refusal to permit the Italian battleship Giulio Cesare and escort vessels to pass through the Straits for delivery at Odessa, the Soviet Government in the first week of January proposed to Italy their delivery at Valona Bay. This proposal was accepted by the Commission, on the condition that the Royal Sovereign sail from Murmansk to arrive in the United Kingdom at the same time. By the third week of January the assent by the British to this plan was withdrawn because they had been unable to get satisfactory assurances that the Royal Sovereign had actually sailed. The United States also held that the transfers to Valona were dependent on the Soviet Union’s fulfillment of the commitment for simultaneous return of the British vessels.

At an emergency meeting of the Commission on January 27 the Soviet representative gave assurances that the Royal Sovereign would sail the next day, and the plan for delivery at Valona was restored. By the middle of February Captain Pryce was able to report that the Giulio Cesare, two submarines, and a destroyer had been transferred to the Soviet Union in the Albanian port; that the Royal Sovereign, three submarines, and one destroyer had been returned to British ports. Arrangements had been made for most of the other ships, with the Milwaukee to leave Murmansk on February 16.

In the first week of April Ambassador Dunn reported that Captain Pryce had proposed that the Commission disband in early May for it appeared that the unresolved matters could be settled through normal diplomatic channels, using the decisions of the Commission as guide lines. Unresolved matters at this stage were: the supply of reserve ammunition and of spare parts for the receiving Governments; the transfer to the Soviet Union of 12 small craft not included in the listed 33; the transfers to Yugoslavia; and the claim of Albania for the yacht or gunboat Illyria. On April 14 Italy and Yugoslavia agreed on the transfer of nine vessels. On May 10 Ambassador Dunn reported that on the previous day the four ambassadors had notified the Italian Government that the Four Power Naval Commission had concluded its work. Records of the above are in the Central Files of the Department of State under the number 865.30.