740.00119 EW/3–2049: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in the United Kingdom


955. For Douglas Eyes Only from Murphy. Not for distribution outside Department. Appreciate ur thoughtful appraisal situation PRI [Page 582] urtel 1080 Mar 19.1 Impossible as you can understand to get consideration here on Sunday of points you make. Under circumstances believe best you can do is proceed along lines suggested in Deptel 9442 para 5 on ad referendum basis. We have given some thought to ur problem in Dept and have attempted to work out possible formula which we would be prepared, if accepted by Brit and French to get approved by US Gov.

Our formula follows:


Plans of any vessel in excess of limits set forth below, whether to be built in Germany or acquired abroad, should be approved by Mil Govs on recommendation of MSB. Review of plans would be directed to inhibiting military effectiveness, taking into account necessity that vessel be economic for the trade or use for which intended.

(Following are minimum limits to which we think you should agree for this purpose. For tactical reasons you may wish to propose higher limits.)

  • a. Dry Cargo. 12 knots and 10,500 deadweight tons. (Comment: This would cover Liberty-type vessels and would in practical terms rule out combination vessels and cargo liners.) This would also adequately cover coastal ships, for which we see no need to make separate provision.
  • b. Tankers. 16 knots and 16,000 deadweight tons. We might go to 14 knots. Limit below 16 knots however will tend to inhibit purchases of vessels which might come on market during next few years.
  • c. Fishing craft. 12 knots. We prefer no limit on size but if adequate security grounds would consider 750 tons.
Committee to be constituted to recommend:
Specialized features of warlike character (stiffening plates, etc.) which should be prohibited.
More detailed criteria to guide Mil Govs in exercise of functions provided for in para 1 above.
Committee to be appointed by Govts. Since economic as well as security factors would have to be considered, task could not be placed solely in hands of naval experts. (End formula)

In view limited Ger building capacity, principal effect limitation in near future will be on acquisition of vessels by purchase or charter. We do not feel limits should be such as to prevent Ger from having reasonable access to suitable types of vessels which might become available in next few years. We feel that, Ger should be allowed to carry petroleum in view of prohibition of synthetic oil industries and also carry grain. These will probably be largest volume, of inward cargoes [Page 583] on ocean-going vessels. Figures suggested in urtel 10313 appear high for use in this formula. Even as prohibitions, they are not in fact restrictive and would not constitute concession to Brit viewpoint. Ur para 8 of 1080 clearance here covers only one plant but would be prepared support your present proposal.

We understand ur preoccupation over linking occ stat and trizonal fusion with subjects you are now discussing; and we are willing to go along on basis that your agreement will be subject to this Gov’s approval and that text PRI agreement will be for completion by Mil Govs. Concurrence of Army and ECA in preceding messages was based on obtaining a composite agreement on four subjects. In view situation on Ger shipping, you will in any event have to go ahead on ad referendum basis, which would meet the problem. Suggest you state frankly you have not been able to get instructions on all points. We consider our formula on duration reasonable and fair and hope you will press it. It is the best for which we can obtain concurrence here.

At our suggestion, General Clay has been requested by the Army to visit you in London for purpose of discussing whole range of negots there. While we have no definite word of the time of his arrival in London we believe he may arrive there on Monday Mar. 21. Clay will be able to give you info on those technical matters on which we do not have info here and can of course give you first hand his general views which should be most helpful.

  1. Supra.
  2. Ante, p. 573.
  3. Not printed; for the figures cited in this telegram, see footnote 4 to telegram 944, March 18, p. 573.