My No. 559.  I saw Secretary of Navy.  He told me
confidentially that naval arrangements under which the United
States Navy take over the protection of merchant shipping in
north-west Atlantic were well advanced and that this control would
begin to come into operation possibly within a week and that this
should provide appreciable relief to British Navy in Atlantic. He
said, of course, the movements of British warships from the
Atlantic to Singapore would be a matter for decision by the
British Government. He said that the United States Government had
no proposals in view for movements of any more American warships
from the Pacific into the Atlantic. I understand from British
sources that although the above-mentioned American control of
north-west Atlantic may begin within a week it is unlikely to be
fully established for two or even three weeks.
With reference to Prime Minister's telegram No. 80  I can well
understand your anxiety to get undertaking of armed support from
United States Government in view of possibility of conflict in the
Far East arising from the result of the joint economic action.
However, I believe that it will be impossible to get such
undertaking. I believe that events and not logic[al]  arguments
will drive the United States into belligerency. However, I believe
that the present moment is appropriate to seek to get a speeding
up of the naval plans arrived at in the staff conversations in
Washington in March 1941  which entail a redistribution of
naval forces as between the Atlantic and Singapore. As you will
remember, the abovementioned plan entailed the movement of three
United States capital ships from the Pacific into the Atlantic.
This has already been done. The plan envisaged the movement of six
British capital ships from the Atlantic to Singapore on the United
States becoming belligerent and on the threat of war in the Far
1 Document 17
2 Colonel Franklin Knox.
3 R. G. Menzies's cablegram is published as Document 16.
4 Corrected from the Washington copy on file AA : A3300, 98.
5 The report of the United States-British staff conversations at
Washington, dated 27 March 1941, was attached as Annex C to a War
Cabinet submission of 14 May 1941. See Documents on Australian
Foreign Policy 1937-49, vol. IV, Document 455.
[AA : A1608, A41/1/5, iii]