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Full text of "Tanker situation."

TMKER SITUATION 



Two days after our smrprise at Pearl Harbor, 
the United States end Germany had declared war on each 
other. These declarations were immediately followed by an 
intensive submarine campaign by the iixis off our iitiantic 
Seaboard. Owe waters were soon infested and swarming with 
under-sea monsters whose toll, although our navy was soon 
on the job, was shockingly appalling from the very outset. 

Our loss of ships, as the Ciermatis certainly 
had intended them to be, were for the greater part, mer- 
chantmen and tankers, whose value to the war effort of our 
co\mtry was boundless and immeasureable . 

Certainly, the Ajaerican people were taken aback 
by the great numerical loss of ships and men, and by the 
proximity of the sinkings. Our ships were being sunk faster 
than replacements were being launched. The loss of these 



ships was felt very severely, for shortly before we had 
entered the war, our government had lent a considerable 
number of tankers to the British, tankers for which we now 
had dire need. 

Although our navy chiefs and the country' s man- 
ufacturers Imew well the importance of the tanker, the average 
citizen was more concerned with the nearness of the sinkings 
than with the type and number of ships sent down. These lat- 
ter were taKen with the complacent feeling that they could 
be swiftly and easily replaced or some other method of trans- 
portation would be resorted to. 

The full meaning of these attacks on otur mer- 
chantmen and tankers did not immediately strike home to our 
citizens, and especially to the citizens of our east coast, 
who were to be hit the hardest in the ensuing months, ^hen 
America entered tne war, the President of our country made 
clear to the Congress and the people what we should have to 
do. He placed special emphasis on production, and stressed 



the fact that America would have to become the great arsenal 
of democracy. 

Before any coiintry can produce, however, there 
must be means of bringing in raw materials. After production 
there must be available methods of shipping and distributing 
the final product. 

Two materials vital to any modem war effort are: 
smokeless powder which is used to keep gun implacements from 
being easily sighted by the tell-tale smoke of firing; and 
oil, so vital to the running of any mechanized force. 

How a raw material for smokeless powder manu- 
facture is sugar molasses, which is first converted into 
alcohol, this then being used directly in the manufacturing 
of the finished product. Almost all of the sugar molasses 
enters this country from our South American neighbors. Its 
only substantial means of importation is by tank boats, 
which hold on the average from one to two million gallons 
of the crude molasses. 



the midwest to the east coast and there are also a few 
automotive and railroad tanK cars bearing gasoline and oil 
to the east> hut these are not sufficient in number or 
capacity. It is estimated that one tanker with its load 
of from one to three inlllion gallons is equivalent in carrying 
oil to two thousand automotive tank cars; a large ratio al- 
so exists in the case of the railroad tanicer, while the 
carrying in by pipeline is scent. 

The tanker situation has become much worse 
since the fall of Java, for here Great Britain lost not only 
a large oil supply, necessitating a large importation by 
tanker from the United States, but also has lost her supply 
of Java sugar, Java being the world' s second largest pro- 
ducer of sugar cane. Hence, iiritain must look elsewhere 
for sugar molasses, which too is carried by tanker. 

t>ince the United States has entered the wax, 
we have lost by sinkings more than a score of tankers, while 
several others have been severely damaged. The result has 



been that tankers are only carrying to the east coast eight 
hundred thousand barrels of crude oil per day. This is 
fifty percent substandard, which is considerable in light 
of the fact that tankers formerly carried in over ninety 
percent of the crude oil. The supply of sugar molasses 
has also been decreased which has precipitated a sugar 
rationing. 

The only other substantial means of transpor- 
tation for fluids is by railroad tanKer, but they have 
proved their own inability in the case of oil. The oil 
industry since the large loss of tankers has resorted to 
railroad tank cars. Up to the present these have been able 
to bring in approximately four hundred and fifty thousand 
barrels a day, only twenty-six percent of our rising demands. 
The estimated limit of supply of oil to the east by rail is 
six hundred thousand barrels a day or roughly thirty-five 
percent of the demand. 

These figures show conclusively that the tanker 



only is the solution to the present oil and sugar molasses 
tr&nsportfetion problem. The tanker is vital to our war 
efforts. VVe must find means swiftly to eliminate the sub- 
marine hazard and conserve our tankers. At present the 
Maritime Commission has orders for three hundred and fifteen 
new tankers. We need these at once, and we must protect 
them at all costs. We need our tankersl