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Documents Relating to New Zealand's Participation in the Second World War 1939–45: Volume I

108 — The Admiralty to the New Zealand Naval Board

The Admiralty to the New Zealand Naval Board

28 March 1940

Your telegram of 20 March (No. 106).

As was pointed out in the Dominions Secretary's telegram of 15 February (No. 102), the responsibility for providing adequate escorts rests on the Admiralty. Under existing conditions it is the Admiralty's considered opinion that the only type of raider which might be encountered in the Tasman Sea is one of the merchant ship type, and consequently the present escort arrangements in the Tasman Sea are considered adequate.

The question of the relative advantages of (a) fast convoys with weak escort, and (b) larger slow convoys with stronger escort, does not arise on the present occasion because for the reasons given in the Admiralty's telegram 1231 of 6 March, paragraph 1,1 it is not possible to concentrate all transports in one convoy.

The proposals for the escort for the New Zealand contingent west of Fremantle are contained in the telegram of 6 March and have been concurred in by the Australian Commonwealth Naval Board.

The question of the adequacy of the escorts for all troop convoys is continually under consideration, and should there be any reason for doing so these arrangements would be modified.

1 Not published. Paragraph 1 of this telegram was as follows:

To effect urgent economy in shipping it is under consideration to include Queen Mary, Aquitania, Mauretania, and Empress of Britain in US 2. The speed of some of the other transports will be below that at which these fast liners can be handled and it is therefore necessary to divide the convoy into a fast group and a slow group whose sea-going speed will be 20 and 13 knots respectively. Two escorting forces will therefore be required.