MORE TROUBLES OVER SHIPS
Another of our growing discouragements during the first four months of our second year was the total lack of co-operation from the French, the Belgians, and the British in obtaining ship charters for the Commission. The total Allied and American tonnage afloat at this time was about 23,500,000 tons. The total European neutral tonnage was about 6,200,000 tons, of which they needed about 2,000,000 tons to transport their own supplies. Aside from the tonnage in use by the Allied Governments for war and supply services, the British, French, and Belgians had over 5,000,000 tons of shipping engaged in commercial trade in the Pacific, Indian, and South Atlantic oceans. While that was desirable in order to sustain their economic life, it did seem to us that our tonnage requirements should be regarded as a negligible drop in that bucket. We needed at this time a reliable fleet of 250,000 to 300,000 tons of cargo shipping if we were to maintain the lives of 10,000,000 people.
I have already related my experience with the French in the previous chapter. They had promised ships but delivered none. They had established a special food fleet of their own flagships and neutral charters to supply unoccupied France. They had turned down the