353 Mr R. G. Casey, Minister to the United States, to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram 194 WASHINGTON, 13 March 1941, 6.55 p.m.

MOST SECRET MOST IMMEDIATE

I was asked by Hornbeck [1] today if informal visits to Australian waters would be agreeable to the Australian Government of a detachment consisting of two cruisers, CHICAGO and PORTLAND, plus five destroyers CLARK, CASSIN, CONYNGHAM, DOWNES and REID, all under the command of Rear Admiral John H. Newton, United States Navy, whose flagship is CHICAGO.

It is proposed that the above detachment should arrive at Sydney on March 20th and depart March 23rd arriving Brisbane March 25th and depart March 28th.

They wish arrangements to be made as secret as possible and especially ask that the fact of such proposed visits should be kept completely secret until the day before scheduled arrival of vessels at Sydney. United States Navy Office expects to confine its press release to statement that this is a training cruise.

Vessels have actually left Samoa and are on their way.

Grateful for formal agreement at earliest.

I said that undoubtedly Australia would wish to make some advance entertainment arrangements for the officers and men, but he earnestly asked that nothing be done that might give a hint earlier than the day before the arrival. I am telegraphing Menzies [2] briefly on the above. [3]

CASEY

VESSELS IN PACIFIC]

1 Adviser on Political Relations, U.S. State Department.

2 The Prime Minister was then in London.

3 In a second cablegram dispatched the same day (no. 195, on file Defence: Special Collection II, Bundle 5, Movements of US War Vessels in Pacific) Casey reported: 'Hornbeck told me that he had hoped that the detachment would have been appreciably larger, but it was the utmost that the State Department could get the Navy to agree to.' Hornbeck was reluctant to reveal the ships' route after Brisbane as the U.S. Govt intended them 'to "bob up" at various places without any possibility of advance knowledge so as to keep the Japanese guessing'.

[DEFENCE: SPECIAL COLLECTION II, BUNDLE 5, MOVEMENTS OF US WAR