Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Duncan A. D. Mackay of the Office of Regional American Affairs


Subject: Peruvian Request for Warships

Participants: Ambassador Berckemeyer2
Señor Don German Aramburu L.,
Peruvian Minister Plenipotentiary, Counselor
Commander Juan Manuel Castro, Naval Attache
OSA—Mr. Warren3
Mr. McGinnis4
AR—Mr. Mackay

Ambassador Berckemeyer stated that he had received urgent instructions from Lima to press for the sale to Peru of either a heavy cruiser of the “Wichita” class, or a light cruiser of either the “Brooklyn” or “San Diego” classes; and, in addition to one of these cruisers, three destroyer escorts mounted with three-inch guns. A note of the Peruvian Embassy in this sense, dated January 9, 1950,5 was presented to Mr. Warren.

Ambassador Berckemeyer explained that, due to the wide publicity given in the Latin American press of the sale to Argentina, Brazil and Chile of two light cruisers apiece,6 the Junta was under considerable pressure to explain to the public why no naval vessels had been offered for sale to Peru by the U.S. Government at this time.

Mr. Warren reminded Ambassador Berckemeyer that during the visit of Admiral Saldías7 to the U.S. in August, the Admiral had shown a disinclination to purchase the three 3-inch destroyer escorts which the Navy proposed to offer for sale to Peru, and had remained [Page 1580] adamant in his preference for 5-inch destroyer escorts, which he was informed were not available since there were none in excess of U. S. requirements. Mr. Warren recalled that both he and Assistant Secretary Miller8 had gone to the highest levels of the Department of the Navy on the matter while Admiral Saldías was here and were given the same reply. Since then no change had been indicated in the Peruvian attitude in this regard.

Ambassador Berckemeyer stated that he understood this perfectly. He indicated that Commander Castro had informed Admiral Miles’9 office10 in Navy earlier in the day of the decision of the Peruvian Government to accept 3-inch destroyer escorts if they were offered to Peru, and had also emphasized the prior urgency which the Peruvians attached to the purchase of a cruiser at this time if at all possible.

Mr. Mackay stated that Admiral Miles had informed him just before this meeting that the Navy Department was prepared to enter into naval staff conferences with the Peruvian naval representatives to discuss the terms and conditions incident to the sale of the destroyer escorts, once the Peruvians could indicate who would represent them in these conversations. Further authorization, however, would have to be received within the U.S. Government for the Navy Department to discuss the sale of any other type of vessel to Peru at this time. In this connection he stated the Navy wished to emphasize that the Peruvian Government should not become unduly optimistic, nor at the same time unduly depressed. Mr. Warren stated that the Peruvian Embassy would receive a reply to its note in this sense early next week.

Ambassador Berckemeyer thanked Mr. Warren for this information, and requested that the urgency of this Peruvian request be stressed when the matter is taken up with the Defense Department. Mr. Warren stated that the Department would do all it could to see that sympathetic consideration is given the Peruvian Government in this matter.

  1. Fernando Berkemeyer.
  2. Fletcher Warren, Director, Office of South American Affairs.
  3. Edgar L. McGinnis, Jr.
  4. The referenced note, not printed, is dated January 9, 1951.
  5. For documentation on the negotiations leading to the sale of cruisers to these countries, see Foreign Relations, 1950, vol. i, pp. 599 ff.
  6. Roque A. Saldías, Peruvian Minister of Marine.
  7. Edward G. Miller, Jr., Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs.
  8. Rear Adm. Milton E. Miles, Director, Pan American Affairs and U.S. Naval Missions, Department of the Navy, and Senior Naval Delegate, Inter-American Defense Board.
  9. Office of the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations.