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Memorandum for the President
February 24, 1942 [Washington, D.C.]
Apropos of your direction Sunday night for the organization of a blockade-running effort towards the Philippines via Hawaii,1 I have the following to report:
The Army has three Naval destroyers under conversion. Diesel engines are being installed and a cargo-going capacity of 1500 tons made possible.
The first of these three will be ready for service in a few days, at the port of New Orleans. The other two should be ready by the first week in March, also at New Orleans. We are going ahead with the loading of the first of the three and will dispatch it through the Canal to Hawaii and from there to be routed by the Navy. The others will follow.
Further, we find that three more of this type of converted destroyers are being operated commercially in the Caribbean. Arrangements are being made to take them over and add them to the three boats referred to above.
Admiral King states that though these converted boats only have a rate of speed of 14_ knots an hour, they are suited to the purpose. They will have a cruising capacity of 10,000 miles.2
A radio has been sent to General MacArthur notifying him accordingly of this, we hope, cheering possibility.
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. The president’s directive of February 22 was stimulated by the receipt of a message from MacArthur arguing that the Japanese blockade was ineffective and that blockade-running should be controlled from Washington rather than from Australia. Marshall directed Somervell to study possible supply efforts. (Morton, Fall of the Philippines, p. 397.)
2. On February 28 Marshall told President Roosevelt that six converted destroyers would leave the United States between that day and March 22. Various delays, however, put the actual sailings back to between March 2 and April 11, and all six ships were diverted to other destinations when it became clear that the Philippine campaign would end before they could reach the islands. (Ibid., p. 398.)
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. 108-109.