TROUBLES WITH SHIPS
At this time we needed constant use of about sixty cargo ships in order to deliver 120,000 tons of supplies monthly to Rotterdam from North American, Argentine, and Far Eastern ports.
The British required that our ships call at British ports for inspection, involving much red tape, thus inevitably making each voyage of longer duration. German agents inspected our ships either before departure or upon arrival at Rotterdam. In England, we also took on bunker coal.
Piloting more than two thousand overseas cargoes for four and one- half years during peacetime from all over the world to the ports of Holland would be only a humdrum job, but piloting them through a blockade and a submarine war in times when there was a scarcity of ships introduced totally new elements into the shipping business.
As this work unfolds, it will disclose aspects of transportation that are unique even in the history of war. We had variable co-operation from the belligerents. Slowly, guarantees of immunity for our ships were built up to meet new and stifling crises, but often the guarantees threatened to collapse under the shifting tides of war and the good or bad nature of men in a fight.
In order to procure ship charters, protect our ships from attack, and facilitate their voyages, our Shipping Director, John White, developed seven ideas. I have mentioned some, but not all, in previous chapters.
The first idea was that since both the British and the Germans in-