Signing of the Washington Naval Treaty.
|Context||World War I|
|Signed||February 6, 1922|
|Location||Memorial Continental Hall, Washington, D.C.|
|Effective||August 17, 1923|
|Expiration||December 31, 1936|
The Washington Naval Treaty, also known as the Five-Power Treaty, was a treaty signed during 1922 among the major nations that had won World War I, which agreed to prevent an arms race by limiting naval construction. It was negotiated at the Washington Naval Conference, held in Washington, D.C., from November 1921 to February 1922, and it was signed by the governments of Great Britain, the United States, France, Italy, and Japan. It limited the construction of battleships, battlecruisers and aircraft carriers by the signatories. The numbers of other categories of warships, including cruisers, destroyers and submarines, were not limited by the treaty, but those ships were limited to 10,000 tons displacement each.
The treaty was concluded on February 6, 1922. Ratifications of that treaty were exchanged in Washington on August 17, 1923, and it was registered in the League of Nations Treaty Series on April 16, 1924.
Later naval arms limitation conferences sought additional limitations of warship building. The terms of the Washington treaty were modified by the London Naval Treaty of 1930 and the Second London Naval Treaty of 1936. By the mid-1930s, Japan and Italy renounced the treaties, while Germany renounced the Treaty of Versailles which had limited its navy. Naval arms limitation became increasingly difficult for the other signatories.
Immediately after World War I, Britain still had the world's largest and most powerful navy, followed by the United States and more distantly by Japan, France and Italy. The British Royal Navy had interned the High Seas Fleet of the defeated German Empire. The allies had differing opinions concerning the final disposition of the German fleet, with the French and Italians wanting the German fleet divided between the victorious powers and the Americans and British wanting the ships destroyed. These negotiations became mostly moot when the German crews scuttled most of their ships. News of the scuttling angered the French and Italians, with the French particularly unimpressed with British explanations that their fleet guarding the Germans had been away on exercises at the time. Nevertheless, the British joined their allies in condemning the German actions and no credible evidence emerged to suggest that the British had collaborated actively with the Germans with respect to the scuttling. The Treaty of Versailles, signed soon after the scuttling of the German High Seas Fleet, imposed strict limits on the size and number of warships that the newly-installed German government was allowed to build and maintain.[ citation needed ]
The US, UK, France, Italy, and Japan had been allied for World War I; but with the German threat seemingly finished, a naval arms race between the erstwhile allies seemed likely for the next few years.President Woodrow Wilson's administration had already announced successive plans for the expansion of the US Navy from 1916 to 1919 that would have resulted in a massive fleet of 50 modern battleships.
In response, the Japanese parliament finally authorized construction of warships to enable the Japanese Navy to attain its goal of an "eight-eight" fleet programme, with eight modern battleships and eight battlecruisers. The Japanese started work on four battleships and four battlecruisers, all much larger and more powerful than those of the classes preceding.
The 1921 British Naval Estimates planned four battleships and four battlecruisers, with another four battleships to follow the subsequent year.
The new arms race was unwelcome to the U.S. public. The United States Congress disapproved of Wilson's 1919 naval expansion plan, and during the 1920 presidential election campaign, politics resumed the non-interventionalism of the prewar era, with little enthusiasm for continued naval expansion.Britain also could ill afford any resumption of battleship construction, given the exorbitant cost.
During late 1921, Washington became aware that Britain was planning a conference to discuss the strategic situation in the Pacific and Far East regions. To forestall the conference and satisfy domestic demands for a global disarmament conference, the Harding administration called the Washington Naval Conference during November 1921.The Conference agreed this Five-Power Naval Treaty, as well a Four-Power Treaty about Japan and a Nine-Power Treaty about China.
At the first plenary session held November 21, 1921, US Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes presented his country's proposals. Hughes provided a dramatic beginning for the conference by stating with resolve: "The way to disarm is to disarm".The ambitious slogan received enthusiastic public endorsement and likely abbreviated the conference while helping ensure his proposals were largely adopted. He subsequently proposed the following:
The proposals for capital ships were largely accepted by the UK delegation, but they were controversial with the British public. It would no longer be possible for Britain to have adequate fleets in the North Sea, the Mediterranean, and the Far East simultaneously. That provoked outrage from parts of the Royal Navy.[ citation needed ]
Nevertheless, there was huge demand for the UK to agree. The risk of war with the United States was increasingly regarded as merely theoretical, as there were very few policy differences between the two Anglophone powers. Naval spending was also unpopular in both the UK and its dominions. Furthermore, Britain was implementing major decreases of its budget because of the post–World War I recession.
The Japanese delegation was divided. Japanese naval doctrine required the maintenance of a fleet 70% the size of that of the United States, which was felt to be the minimum necessary to defeat the United States in any subsequent war. The Japanese envisaged two separate engagements, first with the U.S. Pacific Fleet and then with the U.S. Atlantic Fleet. It calculated that a 7:5 ratio in the first battle would produce a big enough margin of victory to be able to win the subsequent engagement and so a 5:3 ratio, or 60%, was unacceptable. Nevertheless, the director of the delegation, Katō Tomosaburō, preferred accepting the latter to the prospect of an arms race with the United States, as the relative industrial strength of the two nations would cause Japan to lose such an arms race and possibly suffer an economic crisis. At the beginning of the negotiations, the Japanese had only 55% of capital ships and 18% of the GDP that the Americans did.[ citation needed ]
His opinion was opposed strongly by Katō Kanji, the president of the Naval Staff College, who acted as his chief naval aide at the delegation and represented the influential "big navy" opinion, which was that in the event of war, the United States would be able to build indefinitely more warships, because of its huge industrial power, and so Japan needed to prepare as thoroughly as possible for the inevitable conflict with America.[ citation needed ]
Katō Tomosaburō was finally able to persuade the Japanese high command to accept the Hughes proposals, but the treaty was for years a cause of controversy in the navy.
The French delegation initially responded negatively to the idea of reducing its capital ships tonnage to 175,000 tons and demanded 350,000, slightly above Japan. In the end, concessions regarding cruisers and submarines helped persuade the French to agree to the limit on capital ships.Another issue that was considered critical by the French representatives was Italy's request of substantial parity, which was considered unsubstantiated; however, pressure from the US and UK delegations caused them to accept it. That was considered a great success by the Italian government, but parity would never actually be attained.
There was much discussion about the inclusion or exclusion of individual warships. In particular, the Japanese delegation was keen to retain their newest battleship Mutsu, which had been funded with great public enthusiasm, including donations from schoolchildren. [ citation needed ]That resulted in provisions to allow the United States and Britain to construct equivalent ships.
Hughes proposed to limit secondary ships (cruisers and destroyers) in the same proportions as capital ships. However, that was unacceptable to both the British and the French. The British counterproposal, in which the British would be entitled to 450,000 tons of cruisers in consideration of its imperial commitments but the United States and Japan only 300,000 and 250,000 respectively, proved equally contentious. Thus, the idea of limiting total cruiser tonnage or numbers was rejected entirely.
Instead, the British suggested a qualitative limit of future cruiser construction. The limit proposed, of a 10,000 ton maximum displacement and 8-inch calibre guns, was intended to allow the British to retain the Hawkins class, then being constructed. That coincided with the USA's requirements for cruisers for Pacific Ocean operations and also with Japanese plans for the Furutaka class. The suggestion was adopted with little debate.
A major British demand during the negotiations was the complete abolition of the submarine, which had proved so effective against them in the war. However, that proved impossible, particularly as a result of French opposition; they demanded an allowance of 90,000 tons of submarinesand so the conference ended without an agreement for restricting submarines.
Article XIX of the Treaty also prohibited Britain, Japan, and the United States from constructing any new fortifications or naval bases in the Pacific Ocean region. Existing fortifications in Singapore, the Philippines, and Hawaii could remain. That was a significant victory for Japan, as newly fortified British or American bases would be a serious problem for the Japanese in the event of any future war. That provision of the treaty essentially guaranteed that Japan would be the dominant power in the Western Pacific Ocean and was crucial in gaining Japanese acceptance of the limits on capital ship construction.
|Country||Capital ships||Aircraft carriers|
|British Empire||525,000 tons |
|United States||525,000 tons|
|Empire of Japan||315,000 tons|
The treaty strictly limited both the tonnage and construction of capital ships and aircraft carriers and included limits of the size of individual ships.
The tonnage limits defined by Articles IV and VII (tabulated) gave a strength ratio of approximately 5:5:3:1.75:1.75 for the UK, the United States, Japan, Italy, and France, respectively.
The qualitative limits of each type of ship were as follows:
The treaty also detailed by Chapter II the individual ships to be retained by each navy, including the allowance for the United States to complete two further ships of the Colorado class and for the UK to complete two new ships in accordance with the treaty limits.
Chapter II, part 2, detailed what was to be done to render a ship ineffective for military use. In addition to sinking or scrapping, a limited number of ships could be converted as target ships or training vessels if their armament, armour and other combat-essential parts were removed completely. Some could also be converted into aircraft carriers.
Part 3, Section II specified the ships to be scrapped to comply with the treaty and when the remaining ships could be replaced. In all, the United States had to scrap 30 existing or planned capital ships, Britain 23 and Japan 17.
The treaty marked the end of a long period of increases of battleship construction. Many ships then being constructed were scrapped or converted into aircraft carriers. Treaty limits were respected and then extended by the London Naval Treaty of 1930. It was not until the mid-1930s that navies began to build battleships once again, and power and size of new battleships began to increase once again. The Second London Naval Treaty of 1936 sought to extend the Washington Treaty limits until 1942, but in the absence of Japan or Italy, it was largely ineffective.[ citation needed ]
There were fewer effects on cruiser building. While the treaty specified 10,000 tons and 8-inch guns as the maximum size of a cruiser, that was also the minimum size cruiser that any navy was willing to build. The treaty began a building competition of 8-inch, 10,000 ton "treaty cruisers", which gave further cause for concern.Subsequent naval treaties sought to address this, by limiting cruiser, destroyer and submarine tonnage.
Unofficial effects of the treaty included the end of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance. It was not part of the Washington Treaty in any way, but the American delegates had made it clear they would not agree to the treaty unless the UK ended its alliance with the Japanese.
In 1935, the French Navy laid down the battleship Richelieu; combined with the two Dunkerque-classbattleships also under construction, this placed the total tonnage over the 70,000-ton limit on new French battleships until the expiration of the treaty. The keel laying of Jean Bart in December 1936, albeit less than three weeks before the treaty expired, increased the magnitude of France's violation by another 35,000 tons. The French government dismissed British objections to the violations by pointing out that Britain had signed the Anglo-German Naval Agreement in 1935, unilaterally dismantling the naval disarmament clauses of the Treaty of Versailles. German naval rearmament threatened France, and according to the French perspective, if Britain freely violated treaty obligations, France would similarly not be constrained.
Italy repeatedly violated the displacement limits on individual ships; they attempted (but failed) to remain within the 10,000-ton limit for the Trento-classcruisers built in the mid-1920s, but by the Zara-classcruisers in the late 1920s and early 1930s, they had abandoned all pretense and built ships that topped 11,000 long tons (11,000 t) by a wide margin. The violations continued with the Littorio-classbattleships of the mid-1930s, which had a standard displacement in excess of 40,000 long tons (41,000 t). The Italian Navy nevertheless misrepresented the displacement of the vessels as being within the limits imposed by the treaty.
The naval treaty had a profound effect on the Japanese. With superior American and British industrial power, a long war would very likely end in a Japanese defeat. Thus, gaining strategic parity was not economically possible.
Many Japanese considered the 5:5:3 ratio of ships as another snub by the West, though it can be argued that the Japanese had a greater force concentration than the U.S. Navy or the Royal Navy. It also contributed to controversy in high ranks of the Imperial Japanese Navy between the Treaty Faction officers and their Fleet Faction opponents, who were also allied with the ultranationalists of the Japanese army and other parts of the Japanese government. For the Treaty Faction, the treaty was one of the factors that contributed to the deterioration of the relationship between the United States and Japanese governments. Some have also argued that the treaty was one major factor in prompting Japanese expansionism by the Fleet Faction during the early 1930s. The perception of unfairness resulted in Japan's renunciation of the Second London Naval Treaty in 1936.
Isoroku Yamamoto, who later masterminded the attack of Pearl Harbor, argued that Japan should remain in the treaty. His opinion was more complex, however, in that he believed the United States could outproduce Japan by a greater factor than the 5:3 ratio because of the huge US production advantage of which he had expert knowledge, since he had served with the Japanese embassy in Washington. After the signing of the treaty, he commented, "Anyone who has seen the auto factories in Detroit and the oil-fields in Texas knows that Japan lacks the power for a naval race with America." He later added, "The ratio works very well for Japan – it is a treaty to restrict the other parties."He believed that other methods than a spree of construction would be needed to even the odds, which may have contributed to his advocacy of the plan to attack Pearl Harbor.
On December 29, 1934, the Japanese government gave formal notice that it intended to terminate the treaty. Its provisions remained in force formally until the end of 1936 and were not renewed.
What was unknown to the participants of the Conference was that the American "Black Chamber" (the Cypher Bureau, a US intelligence service), commanded by Herbert Yardley, was spying on the delegations' communications with their home capitals. In particular, Japanese communications were deciphered thoroughly, and American negotiators were able to get the absolute minimum possible deal that the Japanese had indicated they would ever accept.[ citation needed ]
As it was unpopular with much of the Imperial Japanese Navy and with the increasingly active and important ultranationalist groups, the value that the Japanese government accepted was the cause of much suspicion and accusation among Japanese politicians and naval officers.[ citation needed ]
The battlecruiser or battle-cruiser was a type of capital ship of the first half of the 20th century. They were similar in displacement, armament and cost to battleships, but differed slightly in form and balance of attributes. Battlecruisers typically had slightly thinner armour and a lighter main gun battery than contemporary battleships, installed on a longer hull with much higher engine power in order to attain greater speeds. The first battlecruisers were designed in the United Kingdom, as a development of the armoured cruiser, at the same time as the dreadnought succeeded the pre-dreadnought battleship. The goal of the design was to outrun any ship with similar armament, and chase down any ship with lesser armament; they were intended to hunt down slower, older armoured cruisers and destroy them with heavy gunfire while avoiding combat with the more powerful but slower battleships. However, as more and more battlecruisers were built, they were increasingly used alongside the better-protected battleships.
A cruiser is a type of warship. Modern cruisers are generally the largest ships in a fleet after aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships, and can usually perform several roles.
The heavy cruiser was a type of cruiser, a naval warship designed for long range and high speed, armed generally with naval guns of roughly 203 mm (8 inches) in caliber, whose design parameters were dictated by the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922 and the London Naval Treaty of 1930. The heavy cruiser is part of a lineage of ship design from 1915 through the early 1950s, although the term "heavy cruiser" only came into formal use in 1930. The heavy cruiser's immediate precursors were the light cruiser designs of the 1900s and 1910s, rather than the armoured cruisers of the years before 1905. When the armoured cruiser was supplanted by the battlecruiser, an intermediate ship type between this and the light cruiser was found to be needed—one larger and more powerful than the light cruisers of a potential enemy but not as large and expensive as the battlecruiser so as to be built in sufficient numbers to protect merchant ships and serve in a number of combat theaters.
The armored cruiser was a type of warship of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It was designed like other types of cruisers to operate as a long-range, independent warship, capable of defeating any ship apart from a battleship and fast enough to outrun any battleship it encountered. Varying in size, it was distinguished from other types of cruiser by its belt armor—thick iron plating on much of the hull to protect the ship from shellfire much like that on battleships. The first armored cruiser, the Imperial Russian Navy's General-Admiral, was launched in 1873 and combined sail and steam propulsion. By the 1890s cruisers had abandoned sail and took on a modern appearance.
The London Naval Treaty was an agreement between Great Britain, Japan, France, Italy and the United States, signed on 22 April 1930. Seeking to address a loophole in the formidable 1922 Washington Naval Treaty, it regulated submarine warfare and limited naval shipbuilding. Ratifications were exchanged in London on 27 October 1930, and the treaty went into effect on the same day. It was largely ineffective.
The Second London Naval Treaty was an international treaty signed as a result of the Second London Naval Disarmament Conference held in London, the United Kingdom. The conference started on 9 December 1935 and treaty was signed by the participating nations on 25 March 1936.
The Imperial Japanese Navy was the navy of the Empire of Japan from 1868 until 1945, when it was dissolved following Japan's surrender in World War II. The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) was formed circa 1952-1954 after the dissolution of the IJN.
The capital ships of a navy are its most important warships; they are generally the larger ships when compared to other warships in their respective fleet. A capital ship is generally a leading or a primary ship in a naval fleet.
The Alaska class was a class of six large cruisers ordered before World War II for the United States Navy. They were officially classed as large cruisers (CB), but others have regarded them as battlecruisers. They were all named after territories or insular areas of the United States, signifying their intermediate status between larger battleships and smaller heavy and light cruisers. Of the six planned, two were completed, the third's construction was suspended on 16 April 1947, and the last three were cancelled. Alaska and Guam served with the U.S. Navy for the last year of World War II as bombardment ships and fast carrier escorts. They were decommissioned in 1947 after spending only 32 and 29 months in service, respectively.
The Washington Naval Conference, was a disarmament conference called by the United States and held in Washington, DC from November 12, 1921 to February 6, 1922. It was conducted outside the auspices of the League of Nations. It was attended by nine nations regarding interests in the Pacific Ocean and East Asia. Soviet Russia was not invited to the conference. It was the first arms control conference in history, and Kaufman shows that it is studied by political scientists as a model for a successful disarmament movement.
The Geneva Naval Conference was a conference held to discuss naval arms limitation, held in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1927. The aim of the Conference was to extend the existing limits on naval construction which had been agreed in the Washington Naval Treaty. The Washington Treaty had limited the construction of battleships and aircraft carriers, but had not limited the construction of cruisers, destroyers or submarines.
A fast battleship was a battleship which emphasised speed without – in concept – undue compromise of either armor or armament. Most of the early World War I-era dreadnought battleships were typically built with low design speeds, so the term "fast battleship" is applied to a design which is considerably faster. The extra speed of a fast battleship was normally required to allow the vessel to carry out additional roles besides taking part in the line of battle, such as escorting aircraft carriers.
Design B-65 was a class of Super Type A cruisers planned by the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) before and during World War II. As envisioned by the IJN, the cruisers were to play a key role in the Night Battle Force portion of the "Decisive battle" strategy which Japan hoped, in the event of war, to employ against the United States Navy.
The Tosa-class battleships were two dreadnoughts ordered as part of the "Eight-Eight" fleet for the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) during the early 1920s. The ships were larger versions of the preceding Nagato class, and carried an additional 41-centimeter (16.1 in) twin-gun turret. The design for the class served as a basis for the Amagi-class battlecruisers.
A treaty battleship was a battleship built in the 1920s or 1930s under the terms of one of a number of international treaties governing warship construction. Many of these ships played an active role in the Second World War, but few survived long after it.
The Eight-Eight Fleet Program was a Japanese naval strategy formulated for the development of the Imperial Japanese Navy in the first quarter of the 20th century, which stipulated that the navy should include eight first-class battleships and eight armoured cruisers or battlecruisers.
The Amagi class was a series of four battlecruisers planned for the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) as part of the Eight-eight fleet in the early 1920s. The ships were to be named Amagi, Akagi, Atago, and Takao. The Amagi design was essentially a lengthened version of the Tosa-class battleship, but with a thinner armored belt and deck, a more powerful propulsion system, and a modified secondary armament arrangement. They were to have carried the same main battery of ten 41 cm (16.1 in) guns and been capable of a top speed of 30 knots.
The Lexington-class battlecruisers were officially the only class of battlecruiser to ever be ordered by the United States Navy. While these six vessels were requested in 1911 as a reaction to the building by Japan of the Kongō class, the potential use for them in the U.S. Navy came from a series of studies by the Naval War College which stretched over several years and predated the existence of the first battlecruiser, HMS Invincible. The fact they were not approved by Congress at the time of their initial request was due to political, not military considerations.
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