Shipping and the War

December 13, 1940

Report Outline
Effects of the War on Merchant Ship Tonnage
The Submarine Menace in the Last War
United States Shipping in the Last War
American Ships and the Present War
Special Focus

Effects of the War on Merchant Ship Tonnage

High British officials have recently declared that England must look to the United States for replacement of the merchant ships which are now being sunk by German submarines and air bombers at an alarming rate. Berlin announced that a mass attack of submarines on a British convoy resulted in the sinking of fifteen merchant ships aggregating more than 110,000 tons on the single day of December 3, as well as a 17,000-ton converted merchant cruiser. London denied the German claims, but admitted simultaneously a loss of 323,157 tons of British, Allied and neutral ships in the month ended November 24. The admitted losses during the last week of October and the first three weeks of November were thus approaching the average monthly loss of about 500,000 tons during 1917, the worst year of the last war, but were still less than half of the 881,000 tons sunk in April, 1917.

Ronald H. Cross, British Minister of Shipping, told the House of Commons on November 26 that the aggregate loss of British, Allied and neutral vessels from the beginning of the war to November 18 was 3,783,251 tons; later official figures bring the total to 3,923,455 tons through December 1. On December 11, Cross said in an interview with an American newspaper correspondent: “Our shipyards are working to the utmost, but a very large part of our capacity has to be given up to naval construction and repair. We are, therefore, naturally anxious to get more ships built overseas, and we are looking primarily to the shipyards of Canada and the United States,” Cross revealed that orders are being placed in the United States for 60 freighters to be delivered next year, but added: “This is not enough. The rate at which we are having ships built does not nearly make up for the present rate of loss.”

In a speech which was delivered by his representative before the Farm Bureau Federation on December 11, the late Lord Lothian, British ambassador to the United States, wrote:

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
United States During World War II
Mar. 13, 1945  The Nation's Health
Aug. 14, 1943  Quality Labeling
Aug. 06, 1943  Voting in 1944
Jul. 27, 1943  Civilian Production in a War Economy
Mar. 08, 1943  Labor Turnover and Absenteeism
Nov. 06, 1942  War Contracts and Profit Limitation
Oct. 10, 1942  Control of Manpower
Aug. 14, 1942  Soldiers and Politics
Jul. 16, 1942  Reduction of Non-War Government Spending
Jul. 08, 1942  Education for War Needs
Jun. 20, 1942  Roll Calls in 1942 Campaign
Jun. 12, 1942  War Shipping and Shipbuilding
Apr. 30, 1942  Forced Evacuations
Apr. 21, 1942  Politics in Wartime
Apr. 14, 1942  Agricultural Import Shortages
Feb. 10, 1942  Disease in Wartime
Jan. 12, 1942  Wartime Rationing
Jun. 19, 1941  Sabotage
Dec. 13, 1940  Shipping and the War
Oct. 24, 1940  Price Control in Wartime
Jul. 20, 1940  Labor in Wartime
Oct. 05, 1937  Alien Political Agitation in the United States
U.S. at War: World War II
War and Conflict
Water Transportation and Safety
World War II