3-043 Memorandum for Admiral Stark, Admiral King, January 9, 1942

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: January 9, 1942

Subject: World War II

Memorandum for Admiral Stark, Admiral King

January 9, 1942 [Washington, D.C.]


Subject: Central Shipping Administration.

I understand from General Somervell that our joint efforts to resolve the complications of ship tonnage into a central workable administration have come to a stand-still.1 As I understand it, the issue was raised over that portion of Paragraph 5 in the Executive Order to be proposed to the President, which stated that,

“the Central Shipping Administrator shall be guided by the decisions of the Army-Navy Joint Board with respect to the movement of personnel and supplies for the Army and Navy, and for the allocation of the necessary shipping to initiate and maintain such military and naval operations as may be adopted.”

General Somervell tells me that in a conference between the Secretary of War and the Secretary of the Navy, at which he was present, Colonel Knox proposed that instead of the Army-Navy Joint Board being designated in Paragraph 5, the Secretaries of War and Navy should have been given this guiding authority. Mr. Stimson accepted that proposal for the War Department. And there the matter now seems to stand without any action being taken to submit a new draft of an Executive Order to the President.

In my opinion it is urgent that something be done immediately to settle this matter. The situation is daily becoming more complicated and confusing. I urge that we press for an immediate decision.

Either the proposed Executive Order in its original form or amended as proposed by Colonel Knox to substitute the “Secretaries of War and Navy” in place of “Army-Navy Joint Board”, is acceptable to me.2

Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.

Document Format: Typed memorandum.

1. Brigadier General Brehon B. Somervell had been assistant chief of staff for supply and procurement (G-4) since November 25, 1941. He was to be promoted to major general effective January 28, 1942.

2. On January 13 Secretaries Stimson and Knox submitted to President Roosevelt a joint letter describing the current problems with shipping allocation and enclosing a draft executive order to create a centralized shipping administration controlled by the army and navy. Rear Admiral Emory S. Land (U.S.N.A., 1902), chairman of the United States Maritime Commission, and Harry L. Hopkins, the president’s lend-lease coordinator, both objected to military control of civilian shipping. The Maritime Commission staff prepared an alternative draft order that—after negotiations with the Bureau of the Budget and further revisions—was signed by the president as Executive Order 9054 on February 7, 1942. (Bureau of the Budget, The United States at War: Development and Administration of the War Program by the Federal Government [Washington: GPO, 1946], pp. 148-50.) The new War Shipping Administration was given authority over the operation, purchase, charter, requisition, maintenance, insurance, and use of all nonmilitary ocean-going vessels under United States control. It was required only to “collaborate” and “maintain close liaison” with the military and to allocate its vessels in a manner that would “comply with strategic military requirements.” (Code of Federal Regulations of the United States of America: Cumulative Supplement, Titles 1-3 [Washington: GPO, 1943], p. 1087.) On February 9 Rear Admiral Land was made chief of the organization.

Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 3, “The Right Man for the Job,” December 7, 1941-May 31, 1943 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991), pp. 52-53.

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