ANOTHER SHIPPING CRISIS
The measures of pressure on the neutrals which we had adopted enabled us greatly to increase delivery to the Belgians and the Northern French--temporarily--but we had to have more neutral charters for the coming months. Then a new obstruction was born. The Allied Governments and the United States had created an Inter-Allied Chartering Executive to handle all neutral charters. This Board took a dim view of our independent shipping arrangements with neutrals. They even attempted to take away some Swedish charters which we had obtained for the Relief in a trade for food from the United States.
The number of ships we needed was small compared to the total still in use by the neutrals for commercial trade. Poland complained of the interference of the Inter-Allied Chartering Executive to the British Foreign Office:
LONDON, 1 November 1917
The Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
. . . I have just returned from an interview with the Secretary of the Inter-Allied Chartering Executive, who informs me that although we can rely on them to extend every assistance possible to the Relief, and that in view of the arguments presented it may be possible for them to confirm the several trip charters of the "Songa" and "Avona" which we had arranged, and to confirm the chartering of other Swedish vessels, still it is impossible for them to definitely assign, to the Relief, ships to make up the shortage of 10,000 tons for December and 40,000 tons for January.