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

Cablegram 360 WASHINGTON, 17 May 1941, 5.50 p.m.


For the Chief of the Naval Staff [1] from Naval Attache [2] Tropic No. 12.

Your telegram CNSNA 4. [3]

Matter has been taken up officially with United States authorities through the military mission.

2. Conversation already held indicate that United States reply will probably be on the following lines:

(a) Extent of support cannot actually be forecast, but will have to be decided according to the situation obtaining at the time.

(b) Possibility is envisaged of a United States squadron operating in the Tasman Sea or around the islands to the northward in case the scale of Japanese attack and/or commitments elsewhere of allied naval forces made such a step advisable.

(c) Possible assistance to Allied naval forces in the protection of trade proceeding eastwards from Australia and New Zealand with special reference to convoys.

3. With reference to last sentences of paragraph 42 and 56 and to paragraph 35 of A.D.B. [4] Navy Department has raised the pertinent question-with whom should the Commander-in-Chief of the United States Pacific Fleet communicate with regard to co- operation with Allied naval forces. As a case in point with whom should he make arrangements for trade protection in the area under discussion: with Chief of the Naval Staff Australia, Chief of the Naval Staff New Zealand, or Commander-in-Chief, China.

4. Request information as to: (a) present system as between Australia and New Zealand of routeing and controlling of shipping eastward from Australia and New Zealand across the Pacific; (b) Whether any scheme is in force or contemplated for unified control and arrangements for protection of such shipping by Australian or New Zealand Naval Boards; (c) Whether any change in procedure is contemplated in the event of war with Japan with special reference to convoys, see B.U.S.(J) [5] 12th meeting paragraph 4.

5. Military Mission have requested that you keep Commander-inChief China [6] informed of details of this discussion. [7]

1 Admiral Sir Ragnar Colvin.

2 Commander D. H. Harries.

3 Document 451.

4 See Document 455, note 5.

5 See Document 415, note 4. The twelfth meeting was held on 6 March 1941.

6 Vice Admiral Sir Geoffrey Layton.

7 For further discussion of this question see files AA: A1608, Y27/1/1; AA: A816, 37/301/88; AA: A981, Far East 25B, i.

[AA: A981, FAR EAST 25B, i]