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

Cablegram 321 WASHINGTON, 1 May 1941, 11 a.m.


From Naval Attache [1] for Chief of Naval Staff. [2] TROPIC No. 6.

Various proposals have been put forward by the U.S. Chief of Naval Operations [3] regarding the transfer of portion of the U.S.

Pacific Fleet to the Atlantic.

2. These proposals vary from the transfer of a force comprising three battleships, four light cruisers, and two squadrons of destroyers-(this force is nearly equal to the force to be transferred after the U.S. enters war, see ABC-1 [4], Annex 3, paragraph 57) to the transfer of a large proportion of the Pacific Fleet.

3. These suggestions are now being examined by the U.K. Chiefs of Staff in the light of the present situation and in relation to certain hypothetical movements of British Naval forces; doubtless you will be consulted before any concurrence is given to the serious weakening of U.S.-British forces in a possible Eastern theatre of war.

4. It has already been decided to move one U.S. aircraft carrier and five destroyers from the Pacific to the Atlantic to replace U.S.S. 'Ranger' who is due for long refit.

5. Although the strategical soundness of some of these proposals is very much open to question, they do at least show a refreshing tendency on the part of the U.S. Naval authorities to get away from the conception of keeping a large fleet based on Hawaii carrying out the half-hearted role of attempting to contain the Japanese fleet by its mere presence. My TROPIC No. 3 [5] 'refers.

6. One must assume that the movements envisaged above, together with the plan outlined in my Tropic No. 5 [6] are not only designed to give as much practical aid to us as possible within the limits of present non-belligerency, but will also have the effect of increasing considerably the chances of some incident which might easily hasten the entry of the U.S. into the war.

1 Commander D. H. Harries.

2 Admiral Sir Ragnar Colvin, but see Document 355, note 2.

3 Admiral H. R. Stark.

4 See Document 455, note 5.

5 Document 415.

6 Dispatched 30 April. On file AA: A981, Far East 258, i.

[AA: A3300, 95]