The Naval Act of 1938, also known as the Second Vinson Expansion Act, was an important legislative act passed by Congress under the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration. The Act officially mandated a 20% increase in strength of the U.S. Navy. The Act came about due to several factors including the Japanese invasion of China, the German annexation of Austria, and the disintegration of the naval treaty system established in 1922 when both Japan and Italy refused to sign the Second London Naval Treaty of 1936.  The act was sponsored by Carl Vinson, a Democratic Congressman from Georgia, and authorized the construction of 105,000 tons of battleships. USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) is named after the congressman.

In this month’s Brown Bag Brief, Historian Shawn Woodford will talk about the 1938 expansion act in the context of the pre-war build up in 1933 and up through 1945. This program is presented in collaboration with the History and Archives Division, Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC),

About the Speaker: Since March 2022, Shawn Woodford has been Supervisory Historian, OPNAV Support Section of the Histories Branch, Histories and Archives Division, Naval History and Heritage Command.  Prior to his current assignment, he had a 10-month detail with the Pentagon’s Strategy and Concepts Branch. His recent publications have focused on Navy strategy, amphibious warfare, and fleet air defense in World War II.

Before joining NHHC, he worked as a senior military analyst at The Dupuy Institute (2004-2006, 2015-2019) in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia, working on quantitative historical analysis of insurgency and counterinsurgency warfare, combat casualty estimation methods, and military combat phenomena related to modeling, simulations, and war gaming.

From 2006 to 2015, he served as a senior historian in the U.S. Special Operations Command History and Research Office, Tampa, Florida. He has authored histories of joint special operations in Afghanistan and Iraq and directed field collection of oral histories and historically significant documentation.

Dr. Woodford received his PhD in War Studies from King’s College London in 2004. He also holds a Bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Colorado (1989) and a master's degree in military history from Kansas State University (1993).

Note:  This is a virtual program that will be aired on the museum’s Facebook page on the date and time indicated. If you have questions accessing the museum’s Facebook page, contact David Barker at

Images Left:  President Roosevelt signing the Naval Expansion Act of 1938.   Right:  Dr. Shawn Woodford, PhD, Military Historian  Images courtesy of Naval History and Heritage Command

Images Left:  President Roosevelt signing the Naval Expansion Act of 1938.   Right:  Dr. Shawn Woodford, PhD, Military Historian  Images courtesy of Naval History and Heritage Command