Overnight, war with Japan made the U.S. shipping shortage twice as bad.
When the Japs started shooting, some 200 U.S. merchant vessels were within reach of her submarines and raiders. They were probably all unarmed and certainly unconvoyed.
In the first 36 hours of war, no actual sinkings of U.S. merchant ships were reported; though at least one SOS call was heard (700 miles from San Francisco) and some ships have undoubtedly been sunk. Insurance rates on U.S. vessels zoomed; the war risk rate to the Hawaiian Islands was 5¢ per $100 last week, $4 at this week's beginning.
To arm all U.S. vessels,...