The Ambassador in Uruguay ( Briggs ) to the Secretary of State

No. 165

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt on March 1 of the Department’s instruction no. 22 of February 19, 1948,1 and to transmit herewith a copy of a self-explanatory memorandum summarizing the conversation which I had with the Uruguayan Foreign Minister this morning.

Respectfully yours,

Ellis O. Briggs

Memorandum of Conversation

During a call on the Foreign Minister at my initiative at noon today I spoke to Dr. Castellanos along the general lines of instruction no. 22 of February 19, 1948 (received by the Embassy March 1), adding that according to our information the last immediate possibility had apparently been closed by action of our Congress in limiting Maritime Commission sales to U.S. purchasers.2 I emphasized that this action was contrary to the recommendations of the Executive, and also contrary to the position which the Department of State has taken throughout.

I again referred to the fact that the Maritime Commission functions autonomously and is in no sense subject to the jurisdiction of [Page 741] the Department of State, notwithstanding which the Department had gone most vigorously to bat in endeavoring to make possible Uruguay’s acquisition of the vessels desired. I said it was with sincere regret, both personal as well as official, that I could not now hold out the hope of an early favorable outcome; on the contrary, if the bill in question has been correctly reported, the Maritime Commission has been estopped from sales except to U. S. purchasers.

Finally, I suggested that further information in the premises might be available from Ambassador Blanco, who returned to Montevideo day before yesterday since the Ambassador himself had discussed the matter with high officials of our Government.

Dr. Castellanos thanked me for the foregoing information and for the efforts which he said he recognized I have made on behalf of his government. At the same time he said he was unable to conceal the fact of his government’s disappointment that Uruguay, among so many countries that have been permitted to purchase ships, had failed to obtain any.

  1. In this communication, not printed, the Secretary of State instructed the Ambassador in Uruguay (Briggs) to convey to the appropriate officials of the Uruguayan Government a summary of facts relating to the failure of the Compañia Uruguaya de Comercio y Marítima S.A. to obtain the final allocation of three surplus T–2 tankers from the Maritime Commission (833.85/2–1948).
  2. In A–149, June 18, not printed, the Secretary of State informed the Embassy in Uruguay that effective March 1, 1948, the Merchant Ships Sales Act of 1946 was amended to prohibit further sales by the Maritime Commission of government-owned warbuilt vessels to non-citizens (833.85/5–1248).