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176 Embassy in Washington to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram 1466 WASHINGTON, 24 October 1946, 7.16 p.m.


The State Department have approached us informally with suggestion
for continuation on same basis of wartime practice whereby United
States and British Commonwealth Naval units visit one another's
Naval Stations without having to obtain permission at Government
level. The State Department pointed out that since the war ended
there has been a reversion to normal prewar practice whereby
before a British Commonwealth Naval vessel could visit a United
States Naval establishment permission was sought formally through
Diplomatic channels. The Americans believe, however, that the
wartime arrangement worked so satisfactorily for both sides that
it might be continued. They emphasize the word 'continued' since
they do not want the arrangement to be covered by anything in the
nature of a formal agreement which would invite publicity. They
obviously do not want to offer opportunity to Soviet Russia or any
other country outside the British Commonwealth to claim the same

Their idea is that the arrangement should be confined to ports
having recognized Naval establishments (and not to purely
Commercial Ports) and should cover visits for the purposes of
obtaining fresh supplies, fuel, recreation for personnel, and
minor repairs. It would not be regarded as extending to the joint
use of facilities i.e. it would not apply to major repairs,
training of personnel, target practice etc. Permission for a visit
could be got direct by Captain of vessel from Port Commander, or
if necessary by Naval Attache from Naval authorities in the
capital city concerned. In other words, the arrangement would be
kept entirely within Naval service channels. The principal motive
behind the suggestion appears to be that of administrative
convenience, in fact the State Department say it has been prompted
by amount of unnecessary correspondence recently required to
facilitate visit of small New Zealand Naval vessel to Panama. It
is not represented as having any direct connection with the joint
use of bases.

The suggestion is being handled entirely between the State and
Navy Departments, very few officials are privy to it, and there is
nothing on paper about it. Emphasis is on informal recognition,
without publicity, of continuity of a convenient administrative
practice. The State Department have approached the United Kingdom
and all Dominion representatives in Washington. We understand from
the State Department that the United Kingdom authorities in London
have agreed in principle, though the United Kingdom Naval
representatives in Washington have not been informed of this. The
State Department also advises that Canada and New Zealand have
agreed. The State Department would like to know whether the
arrangement meets with Australia's approval and whether we are
prepared to make it fully reciprocal. Glad of early advice. [1]

1 Australia agreed to the proposal (Cablegram 1622, 21 November)
and was prepared to make it fully reciprocal.

[AA:A6494 T1, SPTS/1/5]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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