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A Study of the General Board of the U.S. Navy, 1929-1933

A Thesis
Presented to the
Department of History
and the
Faculty of the Graduate College
University of Nebraska

In Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements for the Degree
Master of Arts
University of Nebraska at Omaha

Scott T. Price
April, 1989


In 1900, the then Secretary of the Navy, John T. Lone, organized the General Board of the United States Navy, the first permanent naval advisory body designed to advise the Secretary of the Navy on all aspects of the naval establishment. Secretary Long established the Board because he believed his not having received professional advice constituted a serious weakness in the Navy's administration. He ordered the Board to provide reports that recommended construction programs, technical details on the designs of new warships, and any other matter that concerned naval affairs that the Secretary saw fit to submit to the Board for its recommendations.

The principle aim of this thesis is to determine the influence of the General Board on the United States Navy during the Administration of Herbert Hoover. This thesis will also examine the interaction of the General Board with the civilian branches of the United States Government and examine the formation and early developments of the General Board. The years between 1928 and 1933 are ideal ones in which to examine the Board because it then exercised a wide range of functions not normally undertaken during other


administrations. During Hoover's Administration the Board made official contact with the President, various Congressional committees, and Secretary of State Henry L. Stimson, while it worked under two successive Chiefs of Naval Operations, men who held divergent naval viewpoints. The period between 1928 and 1933 also witnessed the last international efforts prior to World War II to reduce naval armaments, efforts in which the Board acted in its advisory capacity. These years also saw the Board struggle with the development and implementation of new naval technologies while the nation teetered on the brink of economic collapse caused by the Great Depression.

The thesis is organized topically with the topics usually taken up in a chronological order. The first chapter examines the advisory boards that pre-dated the General Board, its inception in 1900, and provides an outline of its membership and duties. The second chapter covers the Board during the 1920's. The third and fourth chapters respectively address the 1930 London Naval Conference. The fifth chapter examines the Board as it functioned after the London Treaty through the end of President Hoover's Administration. The sixth chapter covers the Board's hearings on new warship design. The conclusion provides an over-all assessment of the General Board during the period of 1929 through 1933.

The extent of the Board's influence on naval and other


policy formulation by the Hoover Administration will be determined by examining the Board's recommendations made in light of contemporary domestic and international conditions. Therefore, this thesis will complement scholarly studies of the Hoover Administration by providing a focused look at how one faction of high ranking naval officers affected, viewed, and worked with the civilian branches of the government, thereby adding to historians' knowledge of the period. Therefore this thesis would complement such works as Martin L. Fausold's The Hoover Presidency: A Reappraisal and Warren I. Susman's Herbert Hoover and the Crisis of American Capitalism1.

By examining the Board's hearings and its recommendations made in light of its understanding of U.S. foreign policy and the policies of rival nations, this thesis will complement studies of international relations during the inter-war years. Such studies would include : Robert H. Ferrell's American Diplomacy in the Great Depression: Hoover-Stimson Foreign Policy, 1929-1933; Gerald E. Wheeler's Prelude to Pearl Harbor; Stephen Roskill's Naval Policy between the Wars, 1919-1939; Dorothy Borg's Pearl Harbor as History: Japanese-American Relations: 1931-1941. 2 This thesis will supplement such larger studies by providing a thorough definition and discussion of the principle advisory body of the U.S. Navy and its peace time role in national defense as well as by indicating the


extent to which both the Board's recommendations and Navy policies were conditioned by U.S. domestic interests and foreign policy during the Hoover Administration.

This thesis will also complement studies of the inter-war Navy by determining how the Board functioned within the Navy and how the-different, factions within the Navy viewed the Board and its work. Such an approach would complement studies that deal with the Navy's hierarchy, including: Robert Albion's Makers of Naval Policy and Robert Love's The Chiefs of Naval Operations 3. The Board's decisions concerning the development of emerging naval technologies, such as aviation and submarines, will also be covered. Therefore, this thesis would supplement such studies as Charles M. Melhorn's Two Block Fox: The Rise of the Aircraft Carrier and Clay Blair's Silent Victory4 .

The principal source of evidence for this thesis are the written records of the hearings of the General Board. Whereas I have studied all of the Board's eighty-four recorded hearings during the period of 1929-1933, I have included in the thesis only those hearings that affected major ship designs, international conferences, naval building programs, and major naval developments. Such hearings make up the majority of the hearings actually held. In my opinion, the topics of the remaining hearings were too narrow to shed any light on the subject of this thesis and therefore I did not include them. For example,


I did not refer to the Board's hearings on the naval dental corps, on stowage equipment for gas masks, and on the difference between classified and restricted documents.

I supplemented the records of the General Board's hearings with a number of other sources, including the reports of the. General Board, the official and private papers of President Herbert Hoover, his Secretary of the Navy, Charles F. Adams, Chairman of the General Board Rear-Admiral Mark L. Bristol, and Board member Rear-Admiral Charles B. McVay. Department of State records helped to fill in information not available in the naval records on the naval conferences and international negotiations.

I wish to express my gratitude to Dr. Bruce M. Garver, the chairman of my thesis committee, for his editorial guidance and support throughout the course of my thesis preparation. I would like to thank Dr. Peter Maslowski for first suggesting the topic of this thesis, for his expert critical advice, and also for taking the time to serve on my thesis committee. Finally, I would also like to thank Dr. Orville D. Menard and Dr. William Petrowski for pointing out a number of weak points in an early draft of this thesis and also for taking the time to serve on my thesis committee. I must also thank my maternal grandfather, Colonel Wilbur L. Thompson, U.S.A., for encouraging a young boy's fascination with things naval, a difficult task for a man who fought with the Third Army


across the fields of France, Belgium, and Germany. I am quits sure that he had hoped I would follow in his footsteps, or at least show more enthusiasm for military history. I alone am responsible for any and all shortcomings with this thesis.



1. Martin L. Fausold, ed., The Hoover Presidency: A Reappraisal (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1974); Joseph Hutchmacher and Warren I. Susman, eds., Herbert Hoover and the Crisis of American Capitalism, (Cambridge: Schenkman, Inc., 1973).

2. Robert H. Ferrell, American Diplomacy in the Great Depression: Hoover-Stimson Foreign Policy, 1929-1933 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1957); Gerald E. Wheeler, Prelude to Pearl Harbor: The United States Navy and the Far East, 1921-1931 (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1963); Stephen Roskill, Naval Policy Between the Wars, 1919-1939, Vols. I&II (New York: Walker and Co., 1968); Dorothy Borg and Shumpei Okamato, eds., Pearl-Harbor as History: Japanese-American Relations: 1931-1941 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1973).

3. Robert G. Albion, Makers of Naval Policy, 1798-1947 (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, hereafter NIP, 1980); Robert W. Love, ed., The Chiefs of Naval Operations (Annapolis: NIP, 1980).

4. Charles M. Melhorn, Two Block Fox: The Rise of the Aircraft Carrier (Annapolis: NIP, 1974); Clay Blair, Jr., Silent Victory, The U.S. Submarine War Against Japan (New York: Bantam Books, 1976).



One cannot understand how the General Board functioned during Herbert Hoover's Presidency without some knowledge of the history and development of the General Board and the several naval advisory bodies that preceded it. This chapter will survey the evolution of these advisory bodies before discussing the Board's inception in the context of national and naval conditions at that time. The chapter will conclude by examining the Board's subsequent evolution within the naval establishment up to the inauguration of Herbert Hoover in March 1929.

During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Americans debated the extent to which the United States should play a larger part in world affairs and the extent to which growing international interests would require an increase in the size of the U.S. Navy. In 1896, President Eliot of Harvard University expressed the view of many Americans who believed that any large American military buildup would be incompatible with traditional American values and institutions. He stated:

The building of a navy and the presence of a large standing army mean... the abandonment of what is characteristically American... The building of a navy, and particularly of


battleships, is English and French policy. It should never be ours.1

Eliot's speech was but one of many statements critical of the turn of the century expansion and modernization of the U.S. Navy, guided in part by the ideas of such naval officers as Stephen Luce and Alfred Mahan. No longer would the Navy be required only to protect the coasts of the United States. Luce and Mahan provided the Navy with an ideological rationale for building a large fleet capable of supporting the growing imperialistic policies of the government. Politicians such as Theodore Roosevelt supported Luce's and Mahan's theories and consequently advocated the construction of a large steel battle fleet.

In 1898 the United States went to war with a European opponent for the first time since 1812. In the Pacific and the Caribbean, the fleets of the U.S. and Spain fought battles that matched steam-powered steel vessels capable of firing armor piercing projectiles from turreted guns. The U.S. won the war at sea and on land, thereby gaining its first overseas possessions and becoming one of the world's colonial powers.

Although American arms were everywhere victorious, the Spanish-American war highlighted a number of shortcomings in the U.S. Army and Navy. Problems in the Navy included a lack of war planning, organization, and coordination. The horizontal distribution of power in the Navy Department was the source of the problems. Under the Secretary of the


Navy (hereafter referred to as SECNAV) worked eight independent bureaus who answered only to the civilian SECNAV. A political appointee, the SECNAV usually had little or no background in naval affairs, and as such could not effectively coordinate the functions of the various bureaus or prepare the U.S. Navy for war.2

The eight naval bureaus, created by Congress between 1842 and 1862, provided technically qualified personnel to handle the various aspects of naval maintenance and controlled the shore and fleet functions of the Navy. The Bureau of Yards and Docks constructed and maintained public works; Supplies and Accounts procured, stored, and distributed supplies; Ordnance handled the development, procurement, and storage of all weapons and ammunition; Naval Personnel, later referred to as the Bureau of Navigation, handled the training and detailing of personnel; Engineering designed warship powerplants; Construction and Repair handled the planning and construction or repair of naval vessels at Navy yards; Equipment and Recruiting; and Medicine and Surgery. Aeronautics, established in 1921, handled all matters that pertained to naval aviation.3

A single officer of flag rank headed each bureau and he jealously guarded his jurisdiction. The bureaus dealt directly with Congress on the important matter of appropriations. The bureau chiefs established the principle that Congress appropriated funds directly to the bureaus


rather than to the Navy Department. Therefore funds could not be transferred to other offices in the Navy Department. The chiefs also dealt with the SECNAV directly, and thus possessed considerable autonomy. Such a power structure had the dual effect of increasing the Secretary's responsibility by requiring him to sign the minor administrative papers of each bureau, while at the same time reducing, his control through the sheer number of bodies directly under him. Thus, because only the SECNAV had the power to coordinate the actions of the bureaus, to appoint a poor administrator to the post invited "disaster."4

On the whole, the bureau system offered a satisfactory method of dividing work within the Department along functional lines and it provided a means of specialization needed due to the technological advances occurring in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Yet there was no naval strategic planning body or coordinating agency that could set up a naval policy or develop war plans. Many officers, including Captain Alfred Mahan, took a cue from the Prussian Army and advocated the creation of a naval "General Staff" to lead the organizing and planning of the Navy and to advise the SECNAV.

Until the formation of the General Board in 1900, the SECNAV had to ask the advice of any naval officers close at hand, usually one of the bureau chiefs. The Navy Department established some advisory boards to give advice on a


particular issue and were then promptly dismissed, much like the select committees of Congress. Because these boards were not permanent, they only temporarily solved the advisory problem. 5

The first of these advisory boards was the Board of Navy Commissioners, active from 1815 through 1842, and handled administrative matters and occasionally offered advice on policy. The Board was unsatisfactory because the members had to be familiar with all aspects of the business concerns of the department, and "were thus constantly overloaded with work."6 In 1842 Congress replaced the Board of Navy Commissioners with the bureau system.

The establishment of the United States Naval Institute at Annapolis, Maryland on October 9, 1873 aimed to promote "the advancement of professional and scientific knowledge" within the naval establishment. Under the guidance of such men as Captain Stephen B. Luce, the monthly meetings of the Institute and its resultant published essays began to explore the areas of naval policy and development. Some soon to be prominent names began to appear in the published United States Naval Institute Proceedings, including Alfred T. Mahan and William S. Sims.7

In 1884, the Navy Department established the Naval War College, primarily due to the efforts of Commodore Stephen B. Luce. The College enabled a number of officers to be freed from their regular responsibilities with the fleet or


the bureaus to "think along broad, creative lines," in relation to U.S. naval development. The officers primarily studied strategy and played war games against potential adversaries, but also discussed questions of naval policy. Combined with the information gathered by the newly created Office of Naval Intelligence (hereafter ONI) in 1882, the Naval War College now formulated war plans for the Navy Department.8

Arguably the College's most important contribution to naval reform was to give Captain A.T. Mahan a chance to write and deliver those lectures that he later compiled and published as The Influence of Sea Power Upon History in May of 1890, the work that thrust him into the international spotlight. Naval officers from admiralties all over the globe read and studied Mahan's theories on the strategic principles of sea power. Consequently Mahan's theories influenced the development of many navies, including that of the U.S.9

Another important event in the eventual formation of the General Board was the creation of four temporary Naval advisory boards, one in 1881, 1882, 1889, and 1898. SECNAV William H. Hunt convened the first board on the orders of President Chester A. Arthur, who supported a naval modernization effort. Hunt assigned the board of fifteen naval officers to define the basic requirements of President Arthur's modernization plan and then determine what type of


warships should be built. The board recommended the construction of 159 various ships, including "steel steamers of war, armed with rifled ordnance," to be completed during an eight year plan.10 Congress was not ready to authorize the construction of so many vessels so Hunt shelved the plan and disbanded the board. 11

SECNAV William E. Chandler convened a second board in 1882 that scaled down the previous board's requests so that Congress appropriated funds for the construction of four warships in 1S83, sometimes known as the "ABCD's." Chandler then disbanded the board. Secretary of the Navy Benjamin F. Tracy created the next board on July 16, 1889. Its job was to "study the naval requirements of the United States," and helped Secretary Tracy forge the fleet he intended to build.12 The board recommended that the U.S. build a fleet of twenty battleships and sixty cruisers. Tracy then disbanded the board. Congress appropriated enough money to build three "seagoing, coastline battleships."13

The next important step in the eventual formation of the General Board came with the creation of the Naval War Board, convened by Secretary of the Navy John D. Long at the prodding of Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt, during the first week of April, 1898. Long ordered the board to advise the Administration on operational plans for a possible war with Spain. The board


first consisted of Assistant SECNAV Theodore Roosevelt, Rear Admiral Montgomery Sicard, Captain A. S. Barker, Captain A. S. Crowninshield, the Chief of the Bureau of Navigation, and Commander Richardson Clover, the Chief Intelligence Officer. After the outbreak of war between Spain and the U.S., Roosevelt, Barker, and Clover left the board for war commands and Long called Captain Mahan back from retirement to serve in their place.14

The board met daily throughout the war, collected information, advised the SECNAV on matters of strategic policy, and reviewed war plans drawn up by the Naval War College. The board also participated in cabinet meetings and military councils at the White House and counciled the Administration on questions of strategy. Long disbanded the board at the end of the war.15

Mahan, like many naval officers, believed that the Naval Board was an ineffective substitute for what was really required, a naval general staff. When asked later about the effectiveness of the Naval War Board, Mahan said: "Fortunately, the war was short and simple."16 SECNAV Long conceded the need for permanent and effective planning and coordination within the U.S. Navy, but did not subscribe to Mahan's concept of a Naval General Staff. Fearful that such an organization would eventually become more powerful than the civilian SECNAV, he established "That able body of naval statesmen," otherwise known as the General Board of


the Navy, by General Order No. 544 on March 13, 1900.17 The order stated that: "The purpose of the Department in establishing this board is to insure efficient preparation of the fleet in case of war and for the naval defense of the coast."18 Long also ordered the Board to coordinate the work of the Naval War College and the ONI.

Unlike a general staff, the General Board was only an advisory body and had no executive powers. It also differed from a general staff by having a president who did not serve as the supreme operational commander of the battle fleet in war-time. Nevertheless, Senator Frederick Hale of Maine, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Naval Affairs and the Bureau chiefs, bitterly opposed Long's proposal. They feared the Board would become to powerful and would infringe on the bureau's functions. But these opponents acquiesced because the Board failed to gain legislative sanction and only existed by a Navy Department order, whereas the bureaus received their power by Congressional action.19 The influence of the Board's first and only president, the popular war hero Admiral George Dewey, also helped to secure the Board's position within the Navy Department.

Not all officers shared Long's fear of a general staff. Mahan called the General Board a "pallid child of the Naval War Board," yet he did agree that the General Board was an improvement over the previous "appointed" boards.20 Mahan


wrote that the General Board was "eminently" fitted to coordinate the work of the Department and the Fleet, and to keep a "general surveillance" over the larger strategical and technical questions, which could not be dealt with by the commanders of the squadrons or the bureau chiefs.21

General Order No. 544 provided for the following membership on the Board: The Admiral of the Navy; the Chief of the Bureau of Navigation; the Chief Intelligence Officer and his principal assistant; the President of the Naval War College and his principle assistant; and three other officers above the grade of Lieutenant Commander, later changed to the rank of Captain.22

In 1903, SECNAV Long and his opposite in the War Department created the Joint Army and Navy Board. As designed, the Joint Board advised both Secretaries in matters that involved inter-service cooperation, including the development of joint war plans. The membership of the Joint Board consisted of four members of the General Board and four from the U.S. Army's General Staff, also created in 1903. Admiral Dewey became its President. As with the General Board, the Joint Board was only advisory and held no executive powers.23

The creation of the General Board did not silence the advocates of a naval general staff, including Mahan, who clamored for a Chief of Naval Operations and a suitable staff responsible for all war planning and fleet control,


but still subservient to the Secretary of the Navy. Mahan gained a friendly ear in the executive branch when Theodore Roosevelt became President. Under Mahan's prodding, Roosevelt set up and appointed Mahan to the "Moody Commission." Roosevelt ordered the commission to study the "structure, efficiency, and functions" of the bureaus and the "encroachment" of civilian control over the bureaus, and to examine the war planning capabilities "within the Navy Department."24

The Commission proposed that the Navy Department be divided into five divisions, headed by four flag officers and the assistant secretary. The primary division would be that of Naval Operations and its head would be the secretary's principal advisor who would also be the ex-officio head of the General Board. His staff would be responsible for war planning, the formulation, of general naval policy, and the administration of the Naval War College and the ONI. However the Commission's report died in Congress.

The Commission's efforts were not totally in vain because the next SECNAV, George von L. Meyer, introduced a modified General Staff system, with four line aides for operations, material, inspection, and personnel. Meyer superimposed the aides on the Bureau system. The aides for operations, material, and for personnel joined the General Board as ex-officio members. Later the Commandant of the Marine Corps also became another ex-officio member. The


aides, however, did not receive legitimization from Congress. SECNAV Josephus Daniels, who succeeded Meyer in 1913, eliminated all of the aides except the aide for operations. 26

Perhaps the most important change in the U.S. Navy's administration and one that affected the General Board came with the creation of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (hereafter referred to as CNO). The aide for operations, Admiral Bradley A. Fiske, against Secretary Daniel's objections, managed to secure the passage of a bill that created the Office of the CNO "charged with the operations of the fleet and with the preparations and readiness of plans for its use in war," on March 3, 1915.27 But, due to Daniels pleas that this office would lead to the "Prussianization" of the naval officer corps, Congress limited the CNO's power by giving him no authority over the bureaus and "enjoined him to work under the direction of no the civilian secretary."28 The CNO took over the General Board's vital function of war planning, the first major reduction of the Board's role. The CNO also became an ex-officio member of the Board.29

The United States Navy Regulations for 1920 stated that the Board had no executive or administrative duties and only served in an advisory capacity to the SECNAV. It also specified the subjects the Board was responsible for, including the formulation of a naval policy for the U.S.


and an annual building program for the SECNAV that specified the number and types of ships the Board believed /ere necessary for the fleet.30 The Regulations also ordered the Board to recommend the military characteristics that should be "embodied in the designs to be prepared for new ships," and further instructed the SECNAV to consult the General Board if the U.S. Navy made any changes or modifications on any new designs for ships or aircraft or on any commissioned vessels already with the fleet. 31

The Board consisted of two main sections: the Executive Committee which was the working part of the Board, and the ex-officio members. The SECNAV appointed the members of the Executive Committee of the General Board, and they served on the Board full time. Appointed officers were usually of flag rank, although the SECNAV appointed some captains. There was no specified duration of the appointment. The SECNAV made his choice after consulting the CNO. With the death of Admiral Dewey in 1917, the U.S. Navy dropped the office of President of the General Board "in tribute to his memory." 32 The senior executive officer of the Board then acted as the Chairman.

The Regulations further divided the Executive Committee into four "Sections." The First Section dealt with any matters relating to the fleet that the SECNAV asked the Board to consider, which included maintenance, distribution, operation, training, the number and rank of officers,


and the number and rating of seamen. The Second Section dealt with all matters that pertained to the preparation for war and matters related to the international policy of the U.S. The Third Section considered the "numbers and types of ships proper to constitute the fleet."33 The Fourth Section considered all matters related to shore stations, fuel depots, and logistics. The Chairman of the Board made the appointments to each section, and depending on the number of officers serving on the Executive Committee, he usually appointed two officers to each.34

The SECNAV or the CNO referred requests on paper to the Executive Committee of the General Board, which met every day at 10:00 AM. The Committee gave each paper a serial number and then made copies of the paper for all members concerned with its topic. The Board referred to these copies as "brown papers," because of the color of the paper on which they were mimeographed. The Chairman of the Board forwarded the brown papers to the ex-officio members and any of the bureaus involved in or affected by the study, and he assigned the paper to one of the four sections.35

The officer in charge of the study submitted his findings to the Chairman, usually after several months of study and hearings held in the Board's office. The Board invited any bureau members, civilians, or officers involved to attend the hearings and share their views or ideas on


the subject under study. The Navy Regulations made clear that the Board should "avail itself of all sources of information, civil and naval, foreign and domestic," so that any recommendations made would be based on "the best obtainable information."36 The secretary of the Board then typed up the findings on a "yellow paper." The Executive Committee discussed the yellow paper prior to presenting it to the full Board.

The final reports submitted to the SECNAV or the CNO always began with the words "The General Board recommends," hat suggested unanimity among the members. This was a tactic designed to lend force to the Board's recommendations. The Executive Committee never allowed any minority reports because such reports "might suggest unequal distribution of information and opinions" within the Board. 37 Supporting arguments preceded all decisions and recommendations made by the Board. Only the senior member of the board present at the final hearing signed the recommendation or report before submitting it to the SECNAV, again reinforcing the idea of unanimity. One should note that although the reports did not include minority opinions, the decisions reached by the Board did not always reflect the opinions of the entire U.S. Navy.

After 1918, the full Board met at the Navy Department building on Constitution Avenue, usually at 10:00AM on the Last Tuesday of each month. During these meetings the


entire General Board discussed, modified, and approved the final yellow papers. Once approved, the Chairman or the senior officer present signed the report and had it forwarded to the SECNAV. 38

The formulation of a naval policy for the U.S. was one of the primary tasks of the General Board. The policy formulated 1913 noted that the U.S. fleet, as it existed, was inadequate to support the "advancement of national 39 policies. The Board also noted that the Navy bore no relationship to political parties, and should "not be affected by changes of administration." This assertion by the Board that the Navy was in no way connected with politics may have been sincerely believed by the members, but such a belief did not reflect reality. A civilian appointee headed the War and Navy Departments, and the entire military establishment answered to an elected Chief Executive. Despite such facts, the officers believed that they were disassociated from politics.

Another of the more important functions of the Board was the yearly recommended naval building program whereby the Board recommended the numbers and types of ships that the Board believed should be constructed. Naval finance, as with the other government departments, required long term planning. In order to obtain legislative acceptance of its fiscal 1929 budget, the Navy began working on it in the spring of 1927, or two years before the money would be


spent. As such, the Board submitted its building program for the fiscal 1929 budget during the middle months of 1927.

Occasionally, as in 1916 in response to a request from President Wilson, the SECNAV would ask the Board to develop a special building program to meet a current crisis. Here the Board recommended the construction of 60 capital ships to make the U.S. Navy "second to none." Congress authorized the construction of 162 vessels. Because Congress had to first authorize the construction of vessels, and in a separate act would or would not appropriate money for their construction, the U.S. Navy was still constructing vessels from the 1916 authorization through 1931.

The General Board also developed plans for new warships and throughout the period following the Washington Naval Conference. The Board attempted to determine how such new ships would fit into war plans developed by the Joint Board. The Naval War Collage also tested new designs during war games conducted at the College and submitted a report on the ship's performance to the Board.

The Board determined the characteristics of new warships after holding hearings attended by the representatives of the War Plans Division of the Office of the CNO, Bureau of Aeronautics, Construction and Repair, Engineering and Ordnance. As noted earlier, the Bureaus were


independent and responsible only to the SECNAV. Their lack of coordination could, at times, cause considerable friction and confusion. For example, Ordnance designed and built a warship's armament, Construction and Repair designed the actual vessel and its armor protection, and Engineering designed the powerplant. If any one bureau changed or modified its original plans, the other bureaus would then have to modify their plans accordingly. The General Board acted as the only coordinating body between the bureaus. The designs approved by the Beard were always based on considerable compromise. The Treaty restrictions made the design problem more difficult, because any changes made in the original design affected the one design factor that could not be compromised, the tonnage of the vessel, as it was set by the Washington Treaty.

Thus, the General Board was born out of the SECNAV's need to have a body of professional officers to advise him and help coordinate the actions of all naval bureaus. Even thought the General Board only exercised advisory powers and in 1915 lost its war planning function to the CNO, the Board was, by the time of the Presidential election of 1928, well established in the Navy Department and continued to make important recommendations on almost all aspects of U.S. naval affairs.



1. As quoted in Barbara Tuchman, Practicing History (New York: Harper and Row, 1984), p. 35.

2. Robert G. Albion, "The Administration of the Navy, 1798-1945," Public Administration Review, V (Autumn, 1945), pp. 298-300; John R. Wilson, "Herbert Hoover and the Armed Forces: A Study of Presidential Attitudes and Policy," Doctoral Dissertation, Northwestern University, 1971, p. 28.

3. Henry P. Beers, "The Development of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations," Military Affairs, X (Spring, 1946), pp. 42-43; Albion, "The Administration of the Navy," pp. 297-299.

4. Robert H. Connery, The Navy Yard the Industrial Mobilization in World War II (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1951), p. 14; Albion, Makers of Naval Policy, p. 298; Wilson, "Herbert Hoover and the Armed Forces," p. 28.

5. Albion, Makers of Naval Policy, p. 74.

6. Ibid., pp. 70-71.

7. Ibid., pp. 72-73.

8. Beers, "Chief of Naval Operations," p. 48. Albion, Makers of Naval Policy, p. 72.

9. Alfred Thayer Mahan, The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660-1783 (Boston: Little, Brown, 1890).

10. Charles O. Paullin, Paullin's History of Naval Administration, 1775-1911: A Collection of Articles from the U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1968), pp. 370, 388.

11. Albion, Makers of Naval Policy, p. 76.

12. Ibid., p. 77. Harold and Margaret Sprout, The Rise of American Naval Power (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1946), pp 206-209. Walter R. Herrick, Jr., The American Naval Revolution (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1966), p. 47.

13. Ibid.; See also Ronald Spector, "The Triumph of


Professional Ideology: The U.S. Navy in the 1890s, in Kenneth J. Hagan, ed., In Peace and War, Interpretations of American Naval History, 1775-1894, 2nd ed. (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1984), p. 176.

14. Beers, "The Development of the Office of the Chief of Naval operations," pp. 53-54; Herrick, The American Naval Revolution, p. 228. Albion, Makers of Naval Policy, p. 77.

15. Ibid.

16. Robert Seager II, ed., Alfred Thayer Mahan: The Man and His Letters, (Annapolis: NIP, 1974), p. 541.

17. Jarvis, Butler, "The General Board of the Navy," Naval Institute Proceedings, LVI (August, 1933), p. 700; John D. Long, The New American Navy (New York: The Outlook Company, 1903), pp. 183-186.

18. Ibid.

19. Beers, "The Development of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations," pp. 54-55.

20. Seager, Mahan: The Man and His Letters, p. 540.

21. Butler, "General Board," p. 702.

22. Memorandum, Captain Robert L. Ghormley to Assistant Secretary of the Navy Ernest Jahnks, "The General Board," 14 December 1919, Presidential Papers, Official Files (hereafter referred to as OF), General Board Records (hereafter 18m-Navy), Herbert Hoover Presidential Library (hereafter HHPL), West Branch, Iowa.

23. Fred Greene, "The Military View of American National Policy, 1904-1940," The American Historical Review, LXVI (January, "1964), p. 354; Louis Morton, "War Plan ORANGE: Evolution of a Strategy," World Politics, XI (January, 1959), p. 225; Louis Morton, United States Army in World War II, The War in the Pacific, vol. 2, Strategy and Command: The First Two Years (Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, hereafter USGPO, 1962), p. 22.

24. Seager, Mahan: The Man and His Letters, p. 543.

25. Ibid.

26. Albion, Makers of Naval Policy, pp. 12-13.

27. Love, The Chiefs of Naval Operations, p. xvii.


28. Ibid.

29. The War Plans Division of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations was charged with creating war plans. Albion, Makers of Naval Policy, p. 89.

30. United States Navy Regulations, 1928 edition (Washington, D.C.: USGPO, 1921), pp. 138-139.

31. Ibid.

32. Butler, "General Board," p. 703. Navy Regulation 434, Navy Regulations, p. 139.

33. Memorandum, no author, "Duty of Members of the Executive Committee," Official Correspondence File, Marx L. Bristol Papers, Library of Congress, Manuscript Division (hereafter LC).

34. Ibid. As quoted in Albion, Makers of Naval Policy, p. 84.

35. Memorandum, no author, 11 December, 1920, "General Board," Official Correspondence, Bristol Papers, LC.

36. Navy Regulation 404, Navy Regulations, 1923, p. 139.

37. Memorandum, no author, "General Board Policy and Practice," No . 1024, Official Correspondence, Bristol Papers, LC.

38. Memorandum, no author, 11 December, 1920, "General Board," Official Correspondence, Bristol Papers, LC.

39. As quoted in Albion, Makers of Naval Policy, p. 84.

40. Ibid.

41. Wilson, "Herbert Hoover," p. 53; In 1921, the Budget Act created the Bureau of the Budget whereby all executive departments would have to first obtain the Bureau's approval of the department's appropriation request. Now, each department had to leap two hurdles in order to obtain funding: Congress and the Bureau of the Budget. See Percival F. Brundage, The Bureau of the Budget (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1970), p. 3.

42. Albion, Makers of Naval Policy, pp. 112-129.

43. Ibid., pp. 112-129, 83.



The decade of the 1920's were important years in the development of the post-war U.S. Navy, primarily because of the continued efforts by all leading naval powers to build up and improve the quality of their fleets at a time when the League of Nations and most diplomats and politicians attempted to limit naval expansion. The latter-groups convened conferences at Washington, D.C. and Geneva, to reduce the fleets of the major powers and establish building ratios for the different classes of vessels that made up each fleet. This chapter will cover these conferences and other events of the 1920's that affected the U.S. Navy and the General Board and would condition the naval policies of President Hoover.

Although the 1916 construction program authorized by the Naval Act of 1916 slowed down after Germany's capitulation in November 1918, the Board never gave up advocating a fleet "second to none." It contended that only by completing the 1916 program could America's interests, as defined by the Board, be secure. Despite the Board's advice, the construction program authorized in 1916 was cut short after 1919. The war was over and the German fleet


lay at the bottom of Scapa Flow. Congress recognized that the U.S. no longer faced any immediate threat that required a massive fleet. In 1921, the newly elected President, Warren G. Harding, proposed that the major naval powers attend a naval reduction conference in Washington. Harding hoped to reduce international tensions between the former allies brought about by naval expansion. The resultant treaty from the conference further limited the 1916 building program by setting capital ship tonnage, at 525,000 tons for Great Britain and the United States, 315,000 tons for Japan, and 175,000 tons for Italy and France.1

The Treaty was less than popular with the members of the General Board, the only exception being RADM William V. Pratt, a Board member and negotiator at the Conference. As a whole, the Board believed that the Treaty restricted the U.S. Navy in such a way as to prevent the fleet from fulfilling what the Board believed to be the Navy's obligations in defending certain "cardinal" U.S. policies. The policies included: the Monroe Doctrine, no entangling alliances with foreign governments, maintaining the Open Door in China, the restriction of Asiatic immigration to the U.S., access to raw materials, and the defense of U.S. possessions.2 "The Board took particular exception to Article XIX of the Treaty.

Article XIX of the Treaty affected the plans of the General Board and consequently, that of the Joint Board.


The Navy reorganized the Joint Board in 1918 by replacing the four General Board members with the CNO, the Assistant CNO, and the Director of the War Plans Division of the Office of the CNO. The Navy and War Departments gave the Joint Board, which met monthly, an effective staff, called the Joint Planning Committee. Comprised of three officers from each department's war planning division who met weekly, the Joint Planning Committee handled questions referred to it by the Joint Board.3 After the reorganization, the formulation of the actual policy regarding naval war plans and fleet operations rested with the Office of the CNO based in part on the recommendations of the Joint Board. Under the reorganization, the General Board's influence on policy came only on the design, types, and numbers of new vessels. Such vessels would constitute a fleet run by the CNO on plans for the fleet's operation developed by the Naval War Plans Division and the Joint Board.

Article XIX provided that with the exception of Hawaii, Alaska (not including the Aleutian Islands), and the Panama Canal area, America's Pacific islands were to remain militarily in status quo. Similar non-fortification provisions applied to the British and Japanese. The British could fortify nothing east of Hong Kong and the Japanese nothing outside of their home islands. 4 Article XIX proved to be critical in light of the General Board's,


the Joint Board's, and the ONI' s conclusions that the foreign policies of Japan were a threat to America's Far Eastern interests, namely the Open Door and the protection of the Philippine Islands.

The U.S. bases in the Pacific were vital to the war plans developed by the Joint Board that outlined the campaign against Japan in case of war between Japan-and the U.S., a plan code-named War Plan ORANGE. Under continuous revision until replaced by the RAINBOW-plans in 1939,. War Plan ORANGE was important to the General Board because the Board recommended warship design characteristics in light of the requirements set out by ORANGE.5 Article XIX affected ORANGE because the Article denied the U.S. Navy bases it needed to fulfill the objectives of the plan. There were no functional refueling or repair bases suitable for capital ships open to the U.S. after the Article went into effect.

Therefore, the Board always emphasized that each vessel be as self contained and as shell proof as possible. Each carrier, battleship, cruiser, and submarine also had to have a minimum cruising radius of at least 10,000 nautical miles. Such requirements were necessary because without bases in the Western Pacific, a vessel could not afford to be seriously crippled or run low on fuel before it met the Japanese fleet near the Philippines. The Joint Board revised the ORANGE Plan in 1928, and the U.S. Navy


operated under this version during the Hoover Administration.6

The Board also took exception to the Treaty because it believed that Great Britain and Japan engaged in an attempt to control the remaining unexploited natural resources: Great Britain on a world wide scale and Japan in the Far East. Therefore the Board argued that in order to protect U.S. interests, the Navy would need, at a minimum, parity with the Royal Navy and a two-to-one superiority over Japan "in order to have an equal opportunity in a conflict with either nation.7 Referring to the Treaty, the General Board stated: "from a naval position that then [pre-treaty] commanded the respect and attention of the World and was potentially the greatest, we have sunk to a poor second."8 The Board recommended that the U.S. should quickly build up to treaty standards, especially in the cruiser category.

The Treaty restricted carrier tonnage to 135,000 tons for the U.S. and Great Britain, 81,000 tons for Japan, and 60,000 tons for Italy and France. The Treaty limited carriers to a maximum tonnage of 27,000 tons per ship. Each nation could build two carriers of up to 33,000 tons each provided that total allowed tonnage was not exceeded. In consequence to the latter clause, two U.S. battle cruisers under construction at the time of the Washington Conference could be converted into aircraft carriers


instead of being scrapped. The U.S. Navy christened the carriers the Lexington and the Saratoga, and along with the previously converted collier Jupiter, re-named the Langley [also known as the "Covered Wagon"), began to initiate acceptance of naval aviation with the battle fleet.9

The Treaty restricted categories of warships other than capital ships to a maximum tonnage of 10,000 tons per vessel. The Treaty specified that such a vessel could not mount guns exceeding eight-inches in caliber. However, the Treaty did not restrict the size of the cruiser fleets of each nation and thereby opened the door for competitive cruiser building programs, programs that would lead the major powers to further limitation talks in Geneva and later in London.

Incorporated into the Treaty were a number of articles written by former Secretary of State and War Elihu Root that dealt with submarine warfare. Amended to the Treaty by the chief British delegate to the Conference, Lord Balfour, the articles were the result of the public outcry and abhorrence over the German U-boat's unrestricted war against the Allied commerce. The amended articles specified that merchant vessels "must be ordered" to submit to any search for contraband, all passengers and crew had to be "placed in safety" before their ship could be sunk, and if the rules could not be "observed," then the vessel "must be allowed to pass unharmed." The last article


specified that any person who disregarded the rules "would be held liable for an act of piracy."10 England, Japan, and the United States signed the submarine amendment on February 6, 1922.

While the General Board did not approve of the amendment, it, along with Japanese naval planners, viewed the submarine as a warship "killer" and not a commerce raider. Therefore the amendment did not affect U.S. submarine operations.11 Such views, coupled with public opinion in the U.S., led the Board and the members of the War Plans Division of the Office of the CNO to ignore the experiences of the German U-boats during World War I. The U-boat's campaign proved the effectiveness of commerce warfare against an island nation and that the submarine was the best weapon to carry out such a war. However, the U.S. Navy ignored the lesson taught by the U-boats and the naval planners from each nation developed their submarines to work with the battle fleet.

Soon after the close of the Washington Conference, then-Secretary of the Navy Curtis D. Wilbur ordered the Board to develop a "Naval Policy" for the Department, a policy that would guide the planning and organization of the fleet. The Board came up with a five page document that began with the statement "The Navy of the United States should be maintained in sufficient strength to support its policies and its commerce, and to guard its


continental and overseas possessions."12 Under the heading of "General Naval Policy," the Board noted that the U.S. Navy must "create, maintain, and operate a navy second to none and in conformity with Treaty restrictions."13

The Board always referred to the policy in its recommended building programs, although Congress, the President, or the State Department, never officially recognized the policy. The real value of the policy lay in its clear statement of the Board's view of the role of the U.S. Navy and as a basis from which to base the Board's building programs. The Board also held hearings on the naval policy each year to determine if it met current international conditions. It remained virtually unchanged until the outbreak of. the World War II.

The U.S. Navy reorganized its fleet on December 6, 1922, to complement War Plan ORANGE. The U.S. Navy stationed the Battle Fleet, consisting of twelve battleships and the Lexington and the Saratoga, in the Pacific, thereby reflecting the view of the Board, the ONI, the CNO, and the Naval War College that the Imperial Japanese Navy was the primary concern of the U.S. Navy. The Navy also based the weaker Scouting Fleet in the Atlantic. The Navy also stationed a Control Force consisting of light cruisers and destroyers in the Atlantic, but replaced it in 1929 by a Submarine Force stationed in the Pacific. Operating independently of


either fleet were the Asiatic Fleet, Naval Forces Europe, Special Service Squadron, and Naval Transportation Service.14

As the Board noted in its report on the Washington Naval Treaty, the fleet's most serious deficiency lay in the lack of any heavy cruisers. Despite this weakness in cruisers, Congress did not authorize any new ones until Japan laid down six heavy cruisers and Great Britain five. The 1924 Cruiser Bill authorized the construction of eight 10,000 ton cruisers armed with eight-inch batteries on a design approved by the General Board. Because the U.S. Navy laid down only two heavy cruisers by 1927, the U.S. fleet had to rely on its Omaha class light cruisers to fill the growing cruiser gap between Japan, Great Britain, and the United States.15

Cruisers were essential in making the fleet "well balanced" because in a tactical role they supported the battle line against attack from enemy cruisers and destroyers and led U.S. destroyers in attacks on an enemy battle fleet. Strategically, the cruisers acted independently of the fleet as an advance scout, a commerce raider, and as a convoy escort. The Omaha class cruisers, armed only with six-inch guns, could not fulfill all of the required cruiser roles. Only the large, 10,000 ton, eight-inch gun cruisers could, according to the Board.16 As such, the Board only recommended heavy cruiser construction. Such recommendations led to difficulties at the next


naval limitation conference.

Although the United States was not a formal member of the League of Nations, an ambassador at large attended the League hearings that affected U.S. interests. The League's Preparatory Commission on Disarmament held hearings in the attempt to solve the problem of both naval and land arms limitation, and was one such conference attended by a U.S. representative. However, as the Commission made such little headway by 1927, President Coolidge extended invitations to Great Britain and Japan to meet in Geneva to discuss only the naval limitation problems, independently of the League. 17 Italy and France refused to attend any conference chat was not a part of the League, but Japan and Great Britain accepted the President's invitation.18

In March, 1927 SECNAV Curtis D. Wilbur instructed the General Board to study U.S. cruiser needs in relation to Great Britain, and Japan for the upcoming conference. The Board recommended a maximum total cruiser tonnage for the U.S. and Great Britain of no more than 400,000 tons and 240,000 tons for Japan, with each nation retaining the right to determine for itself the size of each warship and its gun caliber. The Board specified that the U.S. should reserve the right "to build cruisers appropriate to our 19 needs," namely, the 10,000 ton, eight-inch cruiser.19 The current emphasis on cruiser buildup should not, warned the Board, obscure the fact that the "battleship is the


ultimate measure of strength of the Navy and that anything that would tend to reduce that measure of strength would impair our national defense."20

The British had a different plan concerning cruisers.

They proposed to divide cruisers into two categories: heavy (10,000 ton, eight-inch guns), and light (6,000 ton, six-inch guns), with the number in each category to be fixed by agreement, a direct contrast to the U.S. proposal to fix only the total tonnage for each class. The Admiralty stated that Great Britain needed an absolute minimum of seventy cruisers, fifty-five light and fifteen heavy.21 On this point, the British were not open to negotiation, as Admiral of the Fleet John Jellicoe pointed out to the press:

On the outbreak of the Great War we possessed 114 cruisers, and in spite of the fact that Germany had only two armored cruisers, six light cruisers and four armed auxiliaries outside the North Sea, our losses in merchant ships due to the action of these German, vessels exceeded 220,000 tons.... Later in the war, three disguised German raiders accounted for 254,000 tons of British and 39,000 tons of allied shipping. If, under these conditions, 114 cruisers proved to be an inadequate number ... can it be said that 70 is now excessive?22

The seventy cruisers would weigh in at 500,000 tons, above the maximum limit set by the U.S. The insistence of the U.S. delegates, headed by Rear Admiral (hereafter referred to as RADM) Hilary P. Jones, a staunch supporter of the views advocated by the General Board, on parity with


Britain and the British insistence on a minimum of seventy cruisers led to the collapse of the Conference. The Japanese could do little more than stand by and observe the argument between the U.S. and Britain. The U.S. public and press thought that the conference failed because "the admirals were on top, rather than on tap."23

After the collapse of the Geneva Conference, the General Board recommended a comprehensive, five year building program that would build up the fleet on a 5:5:3 ratio in cruisers, destroyers, and submarines, including twenty-five 10,000 ton, eight-inch gun cruisers.24 But, or. February 13, 1929, Congress only authorized the construction of fifteen cruisers and one aircraft carrier, a program accepted by President-elect Herbert Hoover.25

Japan, by this time, completed the construction of four cruisers of the Furutaka class (9000 tons, 6 eight-inch guns), four Myoko class (10000 ton, 10 eight-inch guns) and laid down four Atago class cruisers (10000 ton, 10 eight-inch guns), while Great Britain completed five Kent class cruisers (10000 ton, 8 eight-inch guns), four London class (10000 ton, 8 eight-inch guns) and laid down two Dorsetshire class (10000 ton, 8 eight-inch guns) and two 26 York class (8400 tons, 6 eight-inch guns).26

During the summer of 1928, while Congress debated the naval construction bill. Great Britain and France announced that they had reached a compromise on naval disarmament.


The Anglo-French Naval Compromise of July 28, 1928, stipulated that the next disarmament conference held by the League would consider restrictions on four classes of warships: capital ships (warships displacing more than 10000 tons or mounting guns of more than eight-inch caliber); aircraft carriers in excess of 10000 tons; Surface vessels of or below 10000 tons armed with guns of more that six-inch caliber and up to eight-inch caliber; ocean-going submarines of over 600 tons. One should note the absence of the two vessels best suited for the special needs of the two nations: the Royal Navy's six-inch gun cruiser and the French Navy's coastal submarine.27

The British Government submitted the plan to Washington, D.C., Tokyo, and Rome, in the hope of obtaining their approval of the terms. Secretary of State Kellogg asked the Secretary of the Navy Wilbur to prepare the basis for an answer. Wilbur submitted the British request to the General Board and asked for its recommendations. The Board replied that exempting the six-inch gun cruisers from control "is comparable to the British position at Geneva 28 and constitutes, in effect, no limitation.28 As for the proposal concerning the submarines, the Board noted that such vessels could carry a torpedo "having a destructive power equal to those carried by larger submarines," and the unrestricted construction of these submarines "is a potential threat to the safety" of the U.S.29 As such, the


Board concluded that the Anglo-French agreement was unacceptable to the United States.30 The influence of the Board in this case is readily apparent as Wilbur's reply to Kellogg was a verbatim copy of the Board's report, and Kellogg's telegram to the British and French used both its 31 ideas and language in rejecting the proposal. 31

Ironically, the same Congress that passed the Fifteen Cruiser Bill also passed the Kellogg-Briand Pact which renounced war as an "instrument of national policy except as a means of defense" and pledged the contracting parties to settle all matters of controversy peacefully.32 The apparent contradiction in passing two diametrically opposed bills by the same Congress is best explained by the American Legion. The Legion endorsed the principle of the Kellogg-Briand Pact, however, since the pact in no way guaranteed peace, the Legion stated that no reduction should be made in the military establishment, and the U.S. should "certainly not" reduce its military forces by example in the hope that other nations would follow suit. The contradiction also exemplified the division of the general public and the influence of various pressure groups on Congress, including the Navy League.33 This then was the state of naval affairs as President Hoover entered office.

As a group, the General Board gave no notice of the changing Administration, nor gave any hint of the upcoming conflict between it and President Hoover. It presented its


recommended building program for the fiscal year of 1931 on April 4, 1929. The Board recommended that the U.S. begin modernizing its battleships (replacing coal burning with oil burning steam powerplants), lay down two battleships before the end of 1931, two 10,000 ton, eight-inch cruisers, four destroyer leaders, eleven submarines, one aircraft carrier, and one floating drydock. The Board also recommended that the U.S. continue the Five-Year Aircraft Program, authorized by Congress in 1926, that provided for the construction of 1000 aircraft by July 1, 1931. The Board concluded its recommendation by noting ^hat the construction of the previously authorized fifteen heavy cruisers and one aircraft carrier be continued.34

Perhaps in anticipation of a change of heart concerning naval construction by Congress or the new Administration, the Board, in its recommended building program, warned that the. shipbuilding industry in the U.S. was an "integral and essential" part of the nation's defense and noted that such an industry required "stability of operations" in order to maintain the technically qualified "specialists necessary to construct warships.35 The Board concluded its warning by noting that the recommended program would "help materially to conserve the shipbuilding industry, which is a strong factor in our national defense and prosperity."36 The Board typically included some statement in its recommended building


programs to help "sell" the program to the Administration and Congress, although not always successfully.

The Army and Navy Journal welcomed the new President and noted that his election: "brings satisfaction to many and no bitterness to any."37 Hoover, throughout his campaign in 1928, promised that his administration would "assure national defense."38 He was more specific in a speech given during October, 1928, when he stressed the need for a navy that would give "complete defense to our homes and from the fear of foreign invasion," a portent of his desire to have the Kellogg-Briand Pact become the cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy, a policy that would spell doom for big navy advocates who desired a fleet large enough to counter any 39 threat to all U.S. possessions.39

President Hoover supported a navy strong enough to defend the United States and the Western Hemisphere against attack and to make sure that "European and Asiatic aggressors would not even look in this direction."40 He regarded the Panama Canal as vital to the defense of the nation. He recognized that distant possessions like Guam, Samoa, and the Philippines, most in the Japanese sphere of influence, would be expendable in the event of war with Japan. The cost of insuring their protection would far exceed their value; besides, a sufficiently large navy to defend them would be a provocation to Japan.41

Hoover, in his Memoirs, noted that "I was not in favor


of the United States' permanently holding foreign possessions except those minor areas vital to our defense. Our mission was to free people, not to dominate them." He also made clear that he advocated freeing the Philippines, but not before they had "complete economic stability."42 Finally, he accepted the futility of attempting to shelter American commerce during wartime. He stated that his policies in "national defense and world disarmament" had one objective: "to insure freedom from war to the American people." 43

Hoover's policies contrasted markedly to the Naval Policy, modified by the Board in 1928. The Board's policy advocated maintaining the "Open Door" in China, protecting U.S. interests in Asia, and one that defined the Philippines as being vital to U.S. interests. 3eyond the stated policy, the General Board believed that Japan would be the next enemy, and based on War Plan ORANGE, advocated a fleet that would meet the objectives stated by the War Plan.44 The battle lines between the General Board and their Commander-in-Chief had been drawn.

The U.S. Navy, as a whole, approved of Hoover's selection of the Treasurer of Harvard University, Charles F. Adams of Massachusetts, as the SECNAV. The Army and Navy Journal praised Hoover's choice and stated that it expected Adams to be a "seagoing secretary whose personality, approachability, and interest in the Navy will make


him a favorite in the Service."45 Adams, Hoover hoped, would fulfill what Hoover deemed as the five essential qualities he desired in his appointees, including: rigid integrity, public esteem, sympathy with the ideas of the President, general efficiency, and success as an administrator.46 Time magazine correctly predicted that although Adams may have been popular among naval officers, the President expected him to stand firm against the Admiral's demands and instead be "responsive" to Hoover.47

The post of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, although created in 1862, had only been continuously filled since 1890. At first, the principal justification for the position was to provide a civilian of appropriate rank to substitute for the SECNAV in his absence. Eventually, the Assistant Secretary also managed civilian personnel and also the shore establishment.48 Hoover's choice of Ernest Lee Jahncke of New Orleans literally "came out of the blue," and no one is sure who recommended him or why Hoover chose him. Perhaps Hoover's appointment was a reward to the South for its support in the 1928 election.49 Jahncke became close friends with Hoover and played medicine ball with Hoover and the President's closest advisors each morning. Jahncke denounced the League of Nations as a "political monstrosity" and irked many naval officers by his request that they call him "Commodore," a title that he signed all of his correspondence.50


Hoover's appointment of David S. Ingalls of Ohio, the husband of the heiress to the Standard Oil fortune, as the Assistant Secretary for Aeronautics gratified advocates of naval aviation such as RADM William A. Moffett. As the Navy's only "ace" in the World War, Ingalls was a staunch advocate of naval aviation.51

During March and April, 1929, Hoover appointee RADM Charles B. McVay as the Commander in Chief of the Asiatic Fleet and Vice Admiral Louis M. Nulton as the Commander in Chief of the Battle Fleet. Directly under Nulton Hoover appointed RADM L.A. Bostwick as the Commander of the Battleship Division of the Battle Fleet and Admiral William V. Pratt as the Commander in Chief of the United States Fleet.52

The roster of the General Board remained unchanged and included as an ex-officio member The Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral C.F. Hughes. The Chairman of the Board was RADM Andrew T. Long (United States Naval Academy Class of 1887, hereafter referred to as Class of 1___) and the other members of the Board included RADMs: R.H. Jackson (Class of 1894), J.V. Chase (Class of 1890), H.H. Hough (Class of 1891), G.C. Day (Class of 1892), J-M. Reeves (Class of 1894), and ex-officio member and head of the Naval War College J.R.P. Pringle (Class of 1894). Also on duty with the Board were ex-officio member Major General W.C. Neville, Commandant of the United States Marine Corp, Medal


of Honor winner (Class of 1892), Captain A.W. Johnson (Class of 1897) and the Secretary of the General Board Commander R.L. Ghormley (Class of 1906).53

One of the first tasks the new Administration ordered the General Board to accomplish was to reassess the U.S. need for cruisers. The General Board's report, reeking of Mahan's theories, stated that the demand for cruisers from "every strategical and tactical point of view is urgent."54 The lack of cruisers in the fleet "constitutes the Navy's greatest weakness today."55 The report then-emphasized the "vital" role cruisers played in protecting U.S. trade. The Board concluded by noting:

If our prosperity is to continue, our merchants and manufacturers must not only hold the foreign markets we have gained, but, as European conditions return to normal, we must seek new markets for their output. Showing the flag has a very marked influence upon their endeavors, and the measure of their success is influenced in no small degree by the prestige which up-to-date and smart looking cruisers create and foster.

This reference to international economics is commonly found in reports prepared by the Board, even though none of the Board members held a degree in economics or worked in any manufacturing or production enterprises. The argument that economic expansion required fleet expansion was obviously influenced by Mahan's theories of seapower which were emphasized in the officers' Annapolis and Naval War College education.57 Yet President Herbert Hoover did not share this view, and as a portent of future affairs, he ordered the


Presidential Yacht Mayflower decommissioned "as a small contribution to economy in the face of our greatly increased expenditures.58



1. The actual capital ship ratios worked out to 5:5:3 for the three major powers: Great Britain, the United States, and Japan, respectively.

2. General Board Report, No. 438, Serial No. 1088-A, 17 September, 1921, Records of the General Board (hereafter RGB), Record Group 80 (hereafter RG 80), National Archives (hereafter NA).

3. Greene, "The Military View of American National Policy," pp. 354-35*6.

4. Paolo E. Coletta, ed., The American Naval Heritage (New York: Lanham, 1987), pp. 269-270.

5. Morton, Strategy and Command, p. 71; Jeffery M. Dorwart, The Office of Naval Intelligence (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1979), pp. 48-52. War games were conducted against the major naval powers, and each was given a color code-name. The U.S. was BLUE, Great Britain RED, and Germany BLACK. It should also be noted that the Board never mentioned Germany as a potential adversary during its hearings held during Hoover's Administration.

6. Morton, "War Plan Orange," p. 233.

7. Raymond G. O'Conner, Perilous Equilibrium: The United States and the London Naval Conference of 1930 (Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 1962), pp. 5-6.

8. General Board Report, No. 420-2, Serial No. 1162, 7 April, 1923, RGB, RG 80, NA.

9. James H. and William M. Belote, Titans of the Seas, The Development and Operations of Japanese and American Carrier Task Forces During World War II (New York: Harper and Row, 1975), p. 15.

10. Richard D. Burns, "Regulating Submarine Warfare, 1921:41: A Case Study in Arms Control and Limited War," Military Affairs,: XXXV.(April. 1971), p. 57.

11. Ernest Andrade, Jr., "Submarine Policy in the United States-Navy, 1919-1941," Military Affairs, XXXV (April, 1971), p. 55.


12. General Board Report, No. 420-2, Serial No. 1108, 1 December, 1922, Presidential Papers, OF 18m-Navy, HHPL.

13. Ibid.

14. Coletta, Naval Heritage, p. 282.

15. Ibid; The Omaha class light cruisers, the only modern cruisers in the U.S. Navy, were completed by 1924.

16. Hearings Before the General Board (hereafter HGB), "10,000 Ton Treaty Cruiser," 27 November, 1929, Microfilm (Wilmington: Scholarly Resources, Inc., 1983), pp. 404-405.

17. The League wanted the major powers to accept the French approach of "global tonnage" whereby a nation's fleet would be limited as a whole; the U.S., on advice given by the General Board, wanted limitation by class of warship.

18. Italy and France later agreed to send "observers" to the conference. Coletta, Naval Heritage, p. 271.

19. General Board Report, No. 438-1, Serial No. 1408, 23 February, 1923, RGB, RG 80, NA.

20. Ibid.

21. Armin Rappaport, The Navy League of the United States (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1962), p. 109.

22. As quoted in: U.S. Congress, Senate, Foreign Relations Committee, Records of the Conference for the Limitation of Naval Armament, June 20 to August 4, 1927, Document No.. 55, 70th Congress, 1st Session (Washington, D.C.: USGPO), p. 43.

23. David M. Masterson, ed., Naval History: The Sixth Symposium of the U.S. Naval Academy (Wilmington: Scholarly Resources, Inc., 1987), p. 272; William F. Trimble, "Admiral Hilary p. Jones and the 1927 Geneva Naval Conference," Military Affairs, XLIII (February, 1979), pp. 1-4. The delegates did agree on submarine and destroyer tonnage limits, limits that would be accepted at the London Conference in 1930.

24. General Board Report, No. 1367, Serial No. 1420-2, 31 December, 1927, RGB, RG 80, NA.

25. The authorization included a clause that


encouraged further international limitation and permitted the President to suspend further construction in the event of such limitations. O'Conner, Perilous Equilibrium, p. 22.

26. Coletta, Naval Heritage, p. 195.

27. O'Conner, Perilous Equilibrium, p. 21.

28. General Board Report, No. 438, Serial No. 1390, 11 September, 1928, RGB, RG 80, NA.

29. Ibid.

30. Ibid.

31. O'Conner, Perilous Equilibrium, p. 21. Japan did not reject the plan, and Italy's response was negative because it insisted on parity with France and expressed her preference for the global tonnage method.

32. Ibid., pp. 22-23.

33. The Navy League was formed in January, 1903, to "educate the public and arouse interest in the Navy," by lectures, pamphlets, and by the publication of a League magazine. Rappaport, The Navy League, pp. 4-5.

34. General Board Report, No. 420-2, Serial No. 1415, 5 April, 1929, RGB, RG 80, NA.

35. Ibid.

36. Ibid.

37. Army and Navy Journal, November 10, 1928, p. 1.

38. Ibid.

39. Wilson, "Herbert Hoover," p. 175.

40. Herbert Hoover, The Memoirs of Herbert Hoover, The Cabinet and the Presidency, 1920-1933, vol. II (New York: Macmillan, 1951-52), p. 338.

41. Wilson, "Herbert Hoover," pp. 33-34.

42. Hoover, Memoirs, p. 359.

43. Ibid., p. 338.

44. U.S. Congress, Senate, Foreign Relations Committee, Hearings on the Treaty on the Limitation of


Naval Armaments, 71st Congress, 2nd Session, 1930 (Washington, D.C., USGPO, 1930), p. 233; hereafter Foreign Relations Committee, Hearings on the Treaty.

45. Army and Navy Journal, March 9, 1929, p. 549. Adams was the direct descendant of two presidents. He was well known among naval circles as in 1920, he skippered the racing Yacht Resolute in the America's Cup Race and defeated Sir Thomas Lipton's Shamrock IV. Until the election of 1920 he had been a registered Democrat, but switched tickets that year. Ibid.

46. Hoover, Memoirs, pp. 54, 217-218.

47. Time, March 11, 1929, p. 48.

48. RADM Julius A. Furer, Administration of the Navy Department in World War II (Washington, D.C.: USGPO, 1959), p. 54.

49. Adams recommended F. Trubee Davidson, the Assistant Secretary of War for Aeronautics and Thomas C. Desmond, a prominent New York Republican, Wilson, "Herbert Hoover," p. 39.

50. Ibid., p. 40. His title was bestowed upon him by the New Orleans Yacht Club and was not an official rank in the U.S. Navy.

51. Ibid.

52. Telegrams, Herbert Hoover to naval officers named. Presidential Papers, OF 18m-Navy, HHPL.

53. Note from CMDR. Ghormley to Bristol, 4 October, 1929, Official Correspondence, Bristol Papers, LC; Register of the Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps, 1929 (Washington, D.C.: USGPO, 1930).

54. General Board Report, No. 420-2, Serial No. 1415, 4 April, 1929, submitted to SECNAV Adams, RGB, RG 80, NA.

55. Ibid.

56. Ibid.

57. Peter Karsten, in his study of naval officers, concluded that "Naval officers might think what they liked about their duties, but the primary result of their labors was to aid American businessmen abroad." Peter Karsten, The Naval Aristocracy: The Golden Age of Annapolis and the


Emergence of Modern American Navalism (New York: Free Press, 1972), p. 268.

58. Letter from Hoover to Captain Allen Buchanan, March 22, 1929, Presidential Papers, OF 18m-Navy, HHPL. The ex-C.O. of the Mayflower, Captain Buchanan, was then appointed as a naval aid to Hoover.



The Washington Naval Treaty restricted the total tonnage of the capital ships of Great Britain, Japan, and the United States, but did not restrict the size of the cruiser fleets of each nation, and competitive cruiser construction between the three countries ensued. The desire of the United States and Great Britain to eliminate their competitive cruiser construction led to the failed Geneva Conference of 1927, and to President Hoover's efforts to organize another naval limitation conference during 1929. This chapter will review not only Hoover's attempts to bring about a new naval conference in which the great naval powers would participate but also the part played by the General Board in guiding Hoover's efforts.

In his inaugural address to the nation. President Herbert Hoover outlined the objectives of his foreign policy. His primary objective was to control international tensions brought about by military and naval expansion by promoting arms limitation negotiations between the major powers. He noted: "Peace can be promoted by the limitation of arms and by the creation of instrumentalities for peaceful settlement, of controversies."1 Hoover believed


that large armies and navies were wasteful and counter productive in a democracy; he hoped that the power and influence of the U.S. could, through cooperation with the League of Nations and the World Court, play a beneficial part in reducing the size of such armaments and thereby improve international relations.2

The topic of disarmament was not new to the delegates who attended the League of Nation's Fifth Preparatory-Commission of the Committee on Disarmament. Five times the delegates struggled with the issues, national prejudice, fear, and mutual suspicion in order to draft plans for a general disarmament conference, and five times since 1925 they failed. The General Board recommended that the U S. send a representative to the Commission, even though the U.S. was not a member of the League. However, the Board advised that the U.S. should abstain from any informal discussions on the reduction of battleship, tonnage, a proposal presented by the British that would reduce the then maximum limits as specified by the Washington Treaty, at 35,000 tons displacement and 16-inch caliber guns.

The Board noted that the British proposal worked to the "disadvantage" of the U.S. because battleships of less than 35,000 tons displacement would be too small to fulfill U.S. requirements. The larger tonnage allowed the Board to add the space needed for the large oil bunkers necessary for the vessel to sail in excess of 10,000 nautical miles


without refueling because of the lack of suitable U.S. bases in the Pacific The larger displacement also allowed the Board to add extra compartmentation and armor plating to make the U.S. battleships "as nearly proof against serious underwater damage" as possible, damage that would otherwise require a suitable base to effect repairs.3 The U.S. lacked such bases, the British did not.

The Board also recommended that the U.S. not agree to any "naval building holiday" in capital ship construction, as this would be invariably "ruinous" to an industry that required highly skilled personnel whose "continued" employment was essential. Such a holiday would mean that by 1936 the entire U.S. Battle Fleet would be obsolete, thus requiring the complete replacement, of every U.S. battleship instead of staggering their replacement by laying down three ships per year.4

President Hoover decided to send Hugh Gibson as the U.S. representative to the Commission. Gibson, the U.S. Ambassador to Belgium, gave his opening speech on April 22, 1929, a speech prepared in conjunction with Hoover. Because Hoover hoped to end the impasse which had stalled the previous five Commissions, the President developed a novel approach to the problems of naval disarmament, and had Gibson outline this new approach in the Ambassador's opening address.

Gibson began his speech by noting that America's


defense was primarily a naval problem, and the U.S. was willing to allow land disarmament to be handled by those nations directly affected. He reaffirmed the General Board's opinion that naval limitation by category of warship was preferable to the French proposal of combining total tonnage and tonnage by categories. But, he noted that the French proposal could be used as a basis for discussion. As for Hoover's new approach, Gibson suggested, that a "formula, or "equation," be developed by the various naval powers.5

Such a formula would solve the problem of comparing different categories of warships by allowing for a ship's characteristics including age, weight, speed, and firepower. It would provide a means to equate ships of different size with each other, such as the British light and the U.S. heavy cruisers that had caused difficulties at Geneva in 1927. His offer became known as the yardstick formula and immediately captured the publics, imagination. Gibson's remarks were made without the advice or consent of the General Board or from anyone in the Navy Department, yet his proposal paved the way for a meeting between the 6 U.S. and Britain on naval disarmament.6

Before such a meeting Hoover knew, based on his experiences at the Paris Peace Conference, that in order to obtain success, the negotiators had to establish the broad principles of a settlement before a conference. The


negotiators would then present these principles at the first meeting and then have the Conference's Committees work out the details of any settlement. As Hoover put it, have a "conference before a conference," and it was the pre-conference planning for the so-called London Conference that the General Board played an important role.7 The pre-conference discussions would have to solve the question of what exactly constituted parity between the cruiser fleets of both the U.S. and Great Britain, the major stumbling block at the Geneva Naval Conference.

Hoover also had another plan to help improve success. Taking a lesson form the failure of the Geneva Naval Conference, he instructed Secretary of State Henry Stimson to inform the British Ambassador that civilian statesman, not naval experts, would control the negotiations on naval disarmament.8 The preliminary negotiations would be handled by the U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain, General Charles G. Dawes, scheduled to arrive in London after the British General Election. The President instructed Dawes to determine the willingness of the British to negotiate the limitation of "combatant auxiliaries," the classes of warships not covered by the Washington Treaty, namely cruisers, destroyers, and submarines.9

Dawes carried with him an agenda written by Stimson and approved by President Hoover. It noted that Stimson would attempt to derive a yardstick with the help of U.S.


naval advisors, try to convince Japan and Britain to do the same, and then compare the three yardsticks in the effort to arrive at one that would satisfy all.10 So despite Hoover's early desire to keep naval officers out of the negotiations, naval officers would have a part after all, but only in an advisory capacity. Civilian statesmen would control the negotiations.

Perhaps sensing trouble or non-cooperation from the Navy, Hoover wrote Adams on June 14, and told him to question Admiral Hilary p. Jones, Retired, confidentially, about a number of questions dealing with naval disarmament. Hoover specifically ordered Adams to ask Jones to devise one yardstick based on categories of warships, and another yardstick based on a ship's displacement, age, and gun calibre. Finally, Adams was to ask Jones to determine how many cruisers would "exactly" constitute parity between the cruiser fleets of the Royal Navy and the U.S. Navy."11

Because Hoover did not tell Adams why he made the request, one cannot ascertain clearly why Hoover asked Admiral Jones, the man largely responsible for the collapse of the 1927 Geneva Conference, to devise such formulas. Perhaps Hoover wanted the opinion of a man respected by most of the Navy and a man of experience on such a question. In any case, Jones' response would give Hoover an idea of what the General Board would recommend.

Admiral Jones replied that the U.S. cruiser shortage


was the most critical problem facing the U.S. Navy, and he argued that the U.S. needed a preponderance of combat vessels to match Great Britain, without specifying an exact number. As for the yardstick, Jones recommended the formula E=D×A×G, where E represented battle efficiency, D displacement, A age, and G gun caliber. He recommended that actual cruiser age should be limited to twenty years, and assumed that a vessel would lose two percent of its battle efficiency each year due to deterioration.12

In and effort to clarify the limits of any yardstick, Stimson wrote Adams on July 9 and asked if a yardstick could be developed that would compare "smaller craft" with "greater." 13 Adams submitted Stimson's request, along with Ambassador Gibson's statements made in Geneva to the General Board, and asked the Board about the feasibility of obtaining such a yardstick. The Board's reply stated that was not "practicable" to compare the combatant value of one class of warships with that of another class "for the purposes of comparative measurement."14

Such a comparison, the Board noted, was "unsound in principle" because the naval strength of one nation was not measured "solely by a summation of the strength of the various types of ships." Naval strength, according to the Board, was related to the tasks assigned to the different classes of warships, a difficult factor to enter into any "formula." Therefore, the Board stated that Stimson's idea


would put the U.S. in a position of "hopeless inferiority," and would also "seriously jeopardize our national defense."

After noting its objections to Stimson's proposal, the Board noted that it was "highly improbable that an accurate computation of the combat value of a naval vessel could be made," yet if such a formula was necessary, it should only include the age and displacement of vessels, because "the introduction of other factors would only make for complexity and disagreement on evaluation." 15 The General Board's negative response only reinforced Hoover's distrust of the Navy Department and further reinforced the President's view that the civilian diplomats had to be in charge of the negotiations.

The preliminary negotiations between the U.S. and Great Britain began when General Dawes delivered a speech to the Pilgrim's Society in London, a speech approved by both Hoover and Stimson. In the speech, Gibson stressed two salient points: the U.S. and Great Britain would not allow the issue, of neutral rights to bog down the greater problem of eliminating competition in armaments, and that statesmen, not admirals, would handle the negotiations. This speech was to be the beginning of the informal negotiations between Dawes and the newly elected British Prime Minister, Ramsay MacDonald, of the Labour Party. MacDonald concurred that the preliminary discussions would be "exploratory" only.


Hoover instructed Stimson to obtain from the British, through Ambassador Dawes, a confirmation that Great Britain agreed to accept parity in cruisers, the major stumbling block at Geneva. 17 Surprisingly, MacDonald agreed to grant the U.S. parity in naval strength, something the British would not do at Washington in 1921 or in Geneva in 1927, as the Labour Party's campaign stressed their support of naval limitation in an effort to reduce national spending.18

MacDonald also asked that the two nations announce that the Kellogg-Briand Pact would be a "vital and controlling factor" in their negotiations and that an accord had been reached on parity, "which would be measured by a yardstick being formulated."19 Hoover and Stimson, in reply, expressed general agreement with MacDonald's proposals and added a few of their own that outlined the scope of the formal conference.

The U.S. proposals included a suggestion that capital ships and aircraft carriers, already limited by the 'Washington Treaty, should be considered "only as to the deferment of replacements." They also proposed a "limited transfer between categories" that would allow each nation "in accordance with an agreed yardstick" to build the type of warship it preferred by using tonnage allotted in another category. Concerning the yardstick, the President and Hoover suggested that only the displacement, gun caliber and age factors be considered.20 The proposed elements for a


yardstick might facilitate the formula's acceptance due to simplicity, but neglected two elements vital to a warship's battle effectiveness, a vessels speed and armor protection. However, the cave the British a clear picture of U.S. intentions.

MacDonald took the initiative next by declaring that he would delay the laying down of two British cruisers, part of the 1928-1929 building program and then by asking the U.S. to make a similar move. Hoover then sought to slow down the preparations for the commencement of the construction of two U.S. cruisers, authorized in 1929.21

On July 18, MacDonald urged Stimson to formulate a yardstick and made a rather unique suggestion regarding submarines.22 He made clear his intentions in a later letter to Ambassador Dawes in which he stated that he advocated the elimination of submarines. He also noted that he realized his bargaining position was somewhat weak, as the submarine was the weapon that could do Britain the most harm. He continued: "I base myself, on the fact that though all war is brutal and ruthless the way in which the submarine is used raises that brutality and ruthlessness to a very much greater height than has hitherto been known."23 How much pressure was exerted on him by the Admiralty, who remembered with horror the relatively recent near-success. of the U-Boats of the Kaiser, is unclear. Stimson replied favorably, without consulting the General Board, but


realistically pointed out that many countries would not agree to such a provision, as the submarine was their primary naval vessel.24 The question of the elimination of submarines was not raised again.

The process of proposal followed by counter proposal continued through June and July of 1929, with Dawes acting as the go-between for the two governments. The main hitch in the negotiations was the question of naval parity. MacDonald pointed out that the U.S. demand for parity was complicated because the Japanese, who were not party to the preliminary negotiations at Hoover's request, would want to increase in accordance with the ratios, thereby giving Japan an edge in the Pacific over the British.25

MacDonald gave the British concept of parity between the cruiser fleets during a meeting with Dawes and Gibson en July 29. Parity would be: eighteen eight-inch gun and twenty six-inch gun cruisers for the U.S. to the fifteen eight-inch gun and forty-five six-inch gun cruisers for Britain.26 Such a concept of parity left a difference of twenty-two cruisers at a total of 30,000 tons. MacDonald also highlighted an important point when he noted that the U.S. cruiser fleet was "in a program" while the "bulk" of British cruiser strength was already "on water."27 In order for the U.S. to then achieve parity with the Royal Navy, the U.S. would have to build more cruisers. He correctly noted that such a plan was "an increase ... not


reduction," and therefore defeated Hoover's primary intention of reducing the size of the U.S. fleet.28 The Prime Minister could not have been more correct, as the U.S. cruiser fleet consisted entirely of 10 Omaha class six inch gun cruisers.

The United States wanted to achieve parity at the lowest possible tonnage level by reducing the authorized cruiser construction to something close to 250,000 tons. Britain, by contrast, wanted sixty cruisers with a total tonnage of nearly 376,000 tons, and any reduction on their part meant scrapping existing vessels. Stimson sent a telegram to Dawes, telling him to inform the Prime Minister that his proposals were not acceptable.29

On August 1, 1929 the Board, chaired by CNO Hughes, submitted its findings on the yardstick question. The report first listed some "General Considerations" which reiterated the Board's position regarding naval reduction. The Board cautioned the Administration not to push naval reduction to the "verge of national insecurity," because "inadequate" national defense "invites aggression" that in turn involved an economic "waste far greater than, that due to competitive armament." The Board recommended that the Administration provide an "adequate national defense" that "affords the greatest promise of lasting peace."30

In regard to the yardstick, the Board recommended that the formula E=D×A for cruiser comparisons, where E equals


the combat value, D displacement in tons, and A age, calculated by the formula A=1-(n-2)(n+7)/K. The Board provided a table of A and K factors to be used in conjunction with the recommended formula. The report was submitted by Secretary Adams to President Hoover.31

The British ended the deadlock, however, when MacDonald furnished Dawes with a new set of proposals on August 8. After receiving MacDonald's proposals, Stimson forwarded them to the General Board for study and comment.32 Due to the negative response received from Stimson and after consultation with the Admiralty, MacDonald had reduced his earlier demands for a minimum of sixty cruisers to a minimum of fifty, a substantial reduction of the British position at Geneva and indicated the degree to which MacDonald was willing to negotiate. Even more, he offered the U.S. a preponderance of the large 10,000 ton, eight inch gun cruisers over Great Britain, noted the necessity of obtaining some sort of yardstick, and ended by stating that Britain's geographical position posed obligations greater than those faced by Hoover.33

The General Board's report on MacDonald's latest proposals stated that the British proposals were "somewhat vague and incomplete ... detrimental to the United States', and weigh heavily in favor of Great Britain."34 Noting that Britain's bases and merchant marine gave her an "enormous preponderance" in sea power, it recommended that for the


U.S. to obtain a parity with the British cruiser fleet, including a U.S. preponderance of the eight-inch gun cruisers, the U.S. would need twenty-three of the vessels 35 to Britain's fifteen.35

Stimson's reply noted the Board's figures for the eight-inch gun cruisers, and stated that if the tonnage for the fifty proposed British cruisers were 330,000 tons, "we could go into a conference.36 MacDonald's reply, drafted after consulting with the Admiralty, objected to the U.S. demands of twenty-three eight inch gun cruisers, as according to the authorized capital ship ratio of 5-5-3 set by the Washington Treaty, Japan would be allowed sixteen vessels of the heavy cruiser category, one more than the British would have, an unacceptable position for the British, according to MacDonald. However, he continued, if the U.S. would accept eighteen, this would reduce Japan's figure to thirteen, a figure that Japan may be persuaded to reduce to twelve. The Prime Minister also noted that Stimson's limit of 330,000 total tonnage for Britain's cruiser fleet was too low, and suggested instead a figure of 339,000 tons. 37

Stimson, in reply, stated that the new proposal would take time for the General Board to review. The Secretary of State had now admitted that the Navy would have to be consulted in order to reach an agreement, something Hoover had wished to avoid.38 Perhaps Stimson realized that in


order to obtain Senate approval of such an agreement, naval advisors should be consulted, thereby lending authenticity to the negotiations. The Board, due to its hardline recommendations, became a pawn in a battle of wits.

The General Board's report on the latest British proposal was submitted to Stimson on September 11. The Board noted that in order to obtain substantial parity with the Royal Navy, the U.S. should accept MacDonald's figure of 339,000 tons as the standard of parity in the cruiser category- The Board recommended that the U.S. cruiser fleet should consist of twenty-one 10,000 ton, eight-inch gun cruisers, 58,500 tons of new six-inch gun cruisers, and the existing ten Omaha class, 7500 ton cruisers. The total U.S. cruiser tonnage, as recommended, was 315,500 tons to the British figure of 339,000 tons.39 The Board also reiterated its recommendation that the yardstick should net be used. The proposal was endorsed by the Chief of Naval Operations, Charles F. Hughes.

Apparently not satisfied with the progress of the negotiations to date. Hoover ordered a meeting with the General Board, Admiral Jones, Secretary Adams, and officials of the State Department at the White House on September 11.40 The Secretary of the Board, Captain R.L. Ghormley, read the Board's September 11 report, mentioned above. Hoover pointed out that at arriving at the U.S. cruiser figures the Board did not use a yardstick. Admiral


Jones stated that the Board believed MacDonald had 41 abandoned the yardstick.41 Hoover replied that this was not so, as the yardstick was necessary. Hoover then asked the secretary of the Board, Captain Ghormley, to apply the yardstick that used age and displacement factors and formulate, a table that would show the number of cruisers the Navy needed to "obtain parity" with the fifty proposed British cruisers.42

Ghormley's calculations showed a U.S. cruiser fleet that consisted of twenty-one 10,000 ton, eight-inch gun cruisers, and "10 old OMAHAS and 5 new 6" gun cruisers coming to the same tonnage as the cruiser fleet of 50 units proposed by the Prime Minister."43 Hoover then asked Ghormley to apply the gun caliber factor to the figures and he came up with the same figures except for "4.5 new 6-inch gun cruisers instead of 5." Hoover then asked if the figures of 21, 10, and 4 were the correct result of the application of the yardstick "applied to the United States cruisers to give parity and was told that the figures were correct." CNO Hughes apparently ended the meeting at that point, approximately 12:15 P.M., by bluntly telling Hoover that the Board had "completed its last study of the cruiser question," and then left the White House.44

The Board reconvened in its office at 2:00 P.M. to discuss "the new phase of the situation in view of the fact that the yardstick was to be used." Secretary Adams later


came to the Board's meeting with a dispatch drawn up by Stimson and based on the White House meeting which noted that the Board accepted "as representing parity" a U.S. cruiser fleet consisting of twenty-one, 10,000 ton, eight-inch gun cruisers, the ten existing Omaha class cruisers, and four "new" 7000 ton, six-inch gun cruisers for a total aggregate tonnage of "about 315,000 tons." 45

Adams then asked if these figures were what the Board agreed to as parity. Hughes and the other members of the Board replied no, "that their understanding was that all the President asked was whether the figures he gave as applying the General Board formula values were correct." Adams then left to see the President.

It will be noticed that there was a misunderstanding between the Board and Hoover. The Board informed the President that the figures of 21, 10, and 4 were only the correct result of the application of the yardstick, not what the General Board saw as parity between the two fleets. Why the Board members did not make their position clear is not known, but it was to have serious consequences.

By 8:00 P.M. Under-Secretary of State Cotton gave word that he was coming down to the Board's meeting. By the time he arrived, using a combination of age and gun caliber factors, the Board developed a table showing the fifty British cruisers and the U.S. cruiser category under


varying conditions. The Board then agreed that parity would be achieved by a U.S. cruiser strength of twenty-one 10,000 ton, eight-inch gun; ten Omahas; and five new six-inch gun cruisers. Ghormley gave, the information to Under-Secretary Cotton, who changed the wording of the previous telegram to incorporate the new figures. After CNO Hughes read the telegram, he amended the Board's report to incorporate the new figures and then signed it. The Board then adjourned.46

The newly revised figures were probably a bitter pill for Hughes and the Board to swallow, as they lost two heavy cruisers already authorized, and gave the Navy five new light cruisers that the Board did not want. Yet even the remaining twenty-one heavy cruisers were more than MacDonald was willing to allow.

Hoover, after hearing of the Board's rejection of the figures arrived at during the White House meeting, wrote Stimson and professed his "inability to see any cause for confusion." 47 As the Board continually stated that it did not believe in the efficacy of a yardstick, the confusion is understandable from the Board's point of view. However, why the Board did not specify that it did not believe the figures arrived at during the meeting constituted parity is not clear. Perhaps during the meeting the Board believed Hoover understood its position. Or perhaps the members were resentful of the Navy's backseat role in the


negotiations and therefore did not clarify its position. In any case, the September 11 incident undoubtedly increased Hoover's suspicion of the Board, and he therefore set about to find a naval advisor more in line with the President's plans.

Stimson wrote to Dawes later about his conference with the Board, and stated the Board felt that it was "protecting properly the interests of their country."48 Dawes, however, was not so kind. In his Journal he noted that the "Naval Board" did not have the right to frame "the policy of the United States," and their "impudent assumption" that they had such a power was evidence of their "gross indifference to their military and naval duty." He concluded this entry in his Journal that, the Board should be "abolished or at once reorganized" and suggested that Hoover should consult individual officers for their advice without "involving the risk of having a cabal which foments insubordination.49" Dawe's harsh words probably expressed President Hoover's views as well.

Stimson, now noting that the only remaining problem between achieving an agreement between the U.S. and Great Britain was whether three of the U.S. cruisers would mount six-inch or eight-inch guns, and whether four or five six-inch gun cruisers would be substituted for the three more heavy cruisers and realizing that such questions could be left open for negotiation, he extended an invitation, with


Hoover's permission, to Prime Minister MacDonald to visit the United States.50 He noted in the telegram that although he recognized the difficulties caused by the Board's insistence on allowing the U.S. to build twenty-one heavy cruisers, he asked the Prime Minister to keep in mind that the U.S. Senate might not ratify a treaty that did not have the support of the Board, although no senators were involved in the preliminary negotiations.51

Also, of particular interest, Stimson recommended that MacDonald bring a naval advisor with him on his visit. MacDonald, in turn, issued invitations to the United States, Japan, France, and Italy to attend a conference in London to discuss naval limitations to begin January, 1930.

On September 17, 1929, Admiral William V. Pratt, the Commander in Chief of the United States Fleet, was invited to the White House. Once there, Stimson and Hoover informed him of the negotiations between Dawes and MacDonald, the General Board's position, and Hoover's views. Hoover turned to Pratt because Pratt was well known among naval circles as something of an "internationalist" and had worked with the State Department eight years earlier during the Washington Naval Conference. While CNO Hughes viewed Britain as a possible antagonist and his loyalty to the Navy over-rode all other considerations, Pratt was more open-minded when it came to naval negotiations, and shared the opposite view in regard to Britain.52


Pratt was familiar with the Royal Navy and the members of the Admiralty as he had met them during the First World War when he was the Assistant Chief of Naval Operations and on his trip to Versailles with President Wilson. Pratt's appointment as the chief U.S. naval advisor pleased the British, who reciprocated his views.53 Hoover authorized Pratt to chose the other naval advisors, subject to the approval of Stimson.54

As the conference at London approached, the U.S. and Britain had overcome the most serious obstacle that had led to the collapse of the Geneva Conference. Although both Hoover and MacDonald originally hoped to keep any naval advisors out of the negotiations, both the British Admiralty and the General Board did play a part in the preliminary negotiations. The Board and CNO Hughes, by stubbornly refusing to adapt their cruiser recommendation according to the yardstick during the meeting with Hoover, virtually assured that they would have little or nothing to do with the continued negotiations between Great Britain and the United States. Secretary Stimson would consequently control U.S. negotiations, and the American naval advisory role would be handled by the more open-minded Admiral William Pratt.



1. William S. Meyers, ed., The State Papers and Other Public Writings of Herbert Hoover (Garden City: Doubleday, Doran, and Co., 1934), p. 10.

2. Wilson, "Herbert Hoover," pp. 4-5.

3. HGB, "Study-Guidance of American Delegates to the Preparatory Commission on Limitation of Armaments," 7 August, 1928, p. 247. The British proposed to reduce the maximum battleship tonnage to 25,000 tons and limit the main battery caliber to 12 inches. The previous conferences failed due to the demands of the French and Italians to combine land and naval forces in disarmament discussions.

4. Ibid., pp. 247-248.

5. U.S. Department of State, Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, 1929, vol. I (Washington, D.C.: USGPO), pp. 91-96. (hereafter FR); quoted in part in O'Conner, Perilous Equilibrium, p. 25.

6. Wilson, "Herbert Hoover," pp. 178-179.

7. Hoover, Memoirs, p. 181; Wilson, "Herbert Hoover," p. 178.

8. FR, 1929, Vol. I, p. 100.

9. O'Connor, Perilous Equilibrium, p. 30.

10. Ibid.

11. Letter, Hoover to SECNAV Adams, June 14, 1929, Presidential Papers, OF 18m-Navy, HHPL.

12. Letter, Jones to Adams, June 20, 1929, Presidential Papers, OF 18m-Navy, HHPL. Under Jones' formula, the value for the factor "A" on a newly commissioned ship was 1.00. After that, subtract the figure of .02 from 1.00, which Jones considered to be the yearly deterioration of a vessel, for each year of the vessel's age.

13. Letter, General Board to SECNAV Adams, No. 438-1, Serial No. 1437, July 13, 1929, RGB, RG 80, NA.


14. Ibid.

15. O'Connor, Perilous Equilibrium, p. 34.

16. Charles G. Dawes, Journal as Ambassador to Great Britain (New York: The Macmillan Co., 1939), p. 21.

17. Stimson to Dawes, June 27, 1929, FR, 1929, Vol. I, p. 137.

18. O'Connor, Perilous Equilibrium, pp. 35-36.

19. Ibid., p. 36.

20. Ibid., pp. 36-37.

21. Ibid., p. 37.

22. Dawes to Stimson, July 18, 1929, FR, 1929, Vol. I, pp. 147-148.

23. Ibid., pp. 148-149.

24. Ibid., p. 150.

25. Dawes, Journal, p. 191. Hoover realized that the major stumbling block was the British-U.S. cruiser question and hence, wished to keep the preliminary negotiations as simple as possible. Dawes was, however, to keep the Japanese Ambassador to Great Britain appraised of the early negotiations.

26. Dawes to Stimson, July 29, 1929, FR, 1929, Vol. I, pp. 162-163.

27. Wheeler, Prelude to Pearl Harbor, p. 163.

28. Ibid.

29. Ibid.

30. General Board Report, No. 438-1, Serial No. 1430, August 1, 1929, RGB, RG 80, NA.

31. Ibid.

32. O'Connor, Perilous Equilibrium, pp. 40-41.

33. Dawes to Stimson, August 8, 1930, FR, 1929, Vol. I, pp. 186-188; quoted in part in O'Connor, Perilous Equilibrium, pp. 40-41; The official reason for the


willingness of the British to reduce their cruiser demands to fifty vessels, according to the British Admiralty, was because of the recently signed Kellogg-Briand Pact. London Times, January 11, 1930, 1:10.

34. General Board Report, No. 438-1, Serial No. 24 August, 1929, RGB, RG 80, NA.

35. Ibid.

36. FR, 1929, Vol. I, pp. 20 3-207; O'Connor, Perilous Equilibrium, p. 41.

37. Ibid., p. 210.

38. O'Connor, Perilous Equilibrium, pp. 42-43.

39. General Board Report, No. 438-1, Serial No. 1444-A, September 11, 1929, RGB, RG 80, NA; One should note that the-actual sum of the U.S. tonnages equals 343,500 tons. The total figure quoted in the documents was always 315,000 tons, and this was the figure that the Navy advocated. Whether or not the 58,500 tons was simply a clerical error is difficult to determine. In any case, the Board would have been very careful about the total figure. Also, the Board did not want any more six-inch gun cruisers, and it is therefore not very likely that it would have purposefully proposed more than 30,000 tons of new light cruisers. The 30,000 ton figure would make the total sum equal 315,000 tons.

40. Army and Navy Journal, September 14, 1929, p. 1.

41. The only documentation of the meeting is a memorandum written by Captain R.L. Ghormley, dated September 11, 1929, and included in General Board Report, No. 438-1, Serial No. 1444-A, September 11, 1929, RGB, RG 80, NA.

42. Ibid.

43. Ibid.

44. Ibid., William R. Braisted, "Charles Frederick Hughes," in Love, The Chiefs of Naval Operations, p. 63.

45. Ibid.

46. Ibid..

47. O'Connor, Perilous Equilibrium, p. 44.


48. Ibid.

49. Dawes, Journal, p. 96.

50. FR, 1929, Vol. I, p. 223.

51. Ibid., p. 230.

52. Gerald E. Wheeler, Admiral William Veazie Pratt, U.S. Navy (Washington, D.C.: USGPO, 1974), p. 296.

53. Roskill, Naval Policy Between the Wars, pp. 25, 62.

54. Wheeler, Pratt, p. 314.



The desire by the United States and Great Britain to eliminate their competitive cruiser construction led to the failed Geneva Conference of 1927, and to President Hoover's efforts to organize another naval limitation conference during 1929. This chapter will review Hoover's efforts to set up the London Conference and the subsequent struggle by Hoover, over the objections of the General Board, to get the U.S. Senate to give it's advice and consent to the passage of the resultant treaty despite the opposition of the General Board.

After receiving a formal invitation from President Hoover to visit the United States, Prime Minister MacDonald sailed from England on September 28, 1929. Although the two leaders reached no formal agreement, they discussed many of the problems brought out during the preliminary negotiations between Ambassador Hugh Gibson and MacDonald during the summer. The two leaders then-issued a joint statement that reiterated their faith in the Kellogg-Briand Pact, announced virtual agreement on major problems of naval disarmament, and stated their conviction that the upcoming conference in London would "end all competitive


building between ourselves with the risk of war and the waste of public money involved."1

The General Board's position still remained unchanged. It adamantly insisted on a minimum of twenty-one eight-inch gun cruisers for the U.S. Fleet and did not believe the U.S. required any further six-inch gun cruisers. With the appointment of Admiral Pratt as a naval advisor to the conference, the Board became even more concerned about the upcoming conference as the Board members realized that Pratt did not subscribe to their opinion concerning the relative merits of the eight-inch gun, 10,000 ton cruiser.

Pratt, unlike the Board members, supported the addition of six-inch gun cruisers to the fleet for two reasons. First he realized that no naval officer had any experience on the larger vessels, as the Salt Lake City would not be commissioned until December 11, 1929, and the Pensacola would follow two months later. Secondly, he also knew that the six-inch gun's rate of fire was significantly higher than that of the eight-inch: the six-inch gun fired nine shots per minute while the eight-inch gun fired only three per minute.2

The Board contended that the larger cruisers were necessary to fulfill the missions that the Board and the War Plans Division of the Office of the CNO outlined for U.S. cruisers. The cruiser missions were working with the battle line, scouting for the fleet, and protecting trade.


Concerning the latter mission, the cruisers would be working independently and required the larger gun to combat possible commerce raiders armed with six-inch guns. The emphasis on the big cruiser was characteristic of the Board which tried to match the largest gun with as much displacement as possible to allow a long cruising radius, as the lack of bases in the Pacific required that a ship be as self sufficient as possible.3

One other important difference between the Board and Pratt was Pratt's views of the British. Whereas Pratt believed that war with Britain was impossible, the Board took the opposite view. One of the primary reasons for the Board's Anglophobia is outlined in a report submitted to Adams on October 8, 1929. Adams had asked the Board to subscribe to a statement that noted the Administration had obtained the General Board's opinion concerning British bases in the Western Hemisphere, and that the Board concluded such bases "are not in a condition to be a menace to the United States." 4

The Board, in its reply to Adams, refused to subscribe to the statement because "the military value" of such bases "lies mainly in their position and natural physical characteristics rather than in their military condition and state of development." The Board then listed the bases, including Bermuda, Kingston, Trinidad, St. John's (New Brunswick), and Halifax. 5 This demonstrates the Board's


contention that Britain was still considered as a possible adversary, although its view was not shared by all naval officers, including Admiral Pratt and RADM Moffett.

Another reason why the Board still considered Britain as an adversary is indicated in the Board's statement an its interpretation of British policy, issued in 1923, and remained unchanged in 1929. The Board believed that "Britain will strive to maintain naval supremacy for the defense of the empire and for the domination of world markets."6 Such a fear was coupled with the old issue of the rights of neutrals in time of war. The Admirals also had a long memory, and woe to the officer who forgot the cause of the War of 1812. The Naval War College conducted war games based on a RED-ORANGE coalition against BLUE until 1935, although not as frequently as it played ORANGE-BLUE games.7 Also, the United States continued to replace London as the dominant financial center of the world, and Great Britain wanted to reverse this process and recapture its pre-war position as the dominant financial center of the world.8

The majority of U.S. Navy officers did not concur with the Board's view that the U.S.-British relationship was primarily adversarial. The Naval War Plans Division of the Office of the CNO did not consider war with Britain to be remotely possible. Indeed, these officers hoped that in the event the most likely conflict came about, a war with


Japan, the British would join the U.S. in fighting Japan. After World War I, the U.S. Navy's War Plans Division recognized that Japan's strength in the Western Pacific was growing. The transfer to Japan of the German islands helped to consolidate its power in the Central Pacific. The Washington Naval Treaty further reinforced the U.S. Navy's view that Japan must be considered as the most serious threat to U.S. interests and consequently concentrated its war planning on a conflict with ORANGE.9

Nevertheless, the General Board still considered Britain as a possible adversary and studied the Royal Navy closely. The Board noted that Britain's naval policy, not unlike the "Second to None" policy advocated by the Board, was the "One Power Standard," a modification of the old "Two Power Standard" adopted in 1889. The "One Power Standard" was formally adopted in 1921 as the "Basis of Imperial Defense" and included the statement that the "utmost we can hope for in the near future is to possess a fleet as large as that of any other single power." It remained in effect until 1936, the time of the expiration of the Washington and London Naval Treaties.10

In May, 1929, Admiral W.W. Fisher, the British deputy Chief of Naval Staff, circulated a. comprehensive "Summary of Admiralty Policy." It began by restating the "One Power Standard" and defined it by stating: "the maintenance of such strength as will ensure adequate security for British


territory, together with freedom of sea passage to and from all parts of the empire." He did not consider war with the U.S. a possibility, but noted the growing Japanese naval strength in the Pacific and as such "war in the Far East must form the general basis on which preparations are made." He recommended that preparations include the development of Singapore as a naval base with sufficient oil reserves to sustain the fleet, to be completed by 1937. He also recommended that the Admiralty obtain approval for the "steady and continuous" construction of replacements within the terms of the Washington Treaty, including the laying down of a minimum of three cruisers per year.11

The British, in fact, seemed to resent the anglophobia exhibited by the U.S. Navy. On the eve of the London Conference, Vice Admiral E.A. Taylor, RN, stated that it was America's "firm intention" in the event of any future conflict "to trade as she pleased with any country in the world." As such, "she could only do that with a sufficient naval force at her disposal.12 Although Admiral Taylor was partially correct in his assessment of the U.S. Navy's views, the primary benefit of "twisting the lions tail" was in getting more appropriations from a sometimes unwilling Congress. The Royal Navy was a visible target and as long as the British fleet was larger than the U.S. fleet, U.S. naval officials would point to that fact to get funding for more warships.


Because Hoover disagreed with the General Board's views on cruisers and the threat posed by Great Britain, his nomination of Pratt was a wise move. The British Admirals respected Pratt and felt they could get along with the Admiral.13 Yet the Board did not agree with Hoover's choice, as Pratt's views were well known among naval circles and in-order to counter Pratt's influence, the Board began a campaign to have Rear Admiral Hilary p. Jones recalled from retirement, restored to his rank of admiral, and made part of the advisory staff of the U.S. delegation to London. The Board also attempted to have its Chairman, RADM A.T. Long, included as an advisor to the U.S. delegation. The State Department approved both requests. However, Pratt still headed the advisory staff.14 The State Department, however, did not allow the Board to prepare a report outlining the U.S. positions as it had for the Geneva Conference. Undersecretary of State Cotton noted that the Board's Geneva guidelines were too rigid and thus inhibited any possible agreement, and Stimson and Hoover concurred. 15

The Board was not to be left out completely in the cold. In order to avoid criticism by naval experts that the delegates knew nothing of naval affairs, Stimson, who headed the U.S. delegation, asked the Board to coach him on some of the technical questions that were sure to be brought up at the conference. Stimson met with each member


of the General Board and heard the admiral's opinions on the requirements of the U.S. Navy.

Each admiral supported the Board's opinion concerning the merits of the large eight-inch gun cruisers and stated that the U.S. required a minimum of twenty-one of these warships. RADM J.M. Reeves specified the Board's reasons for advocating the eight-inch gun cruiser over the six-inch gun cruiser by noting that the eight-inch gun's range "is overwhelmingly superior" to the six-inch gun and as such was better suited for the protection of the battle line. It could beat back enemy cruiser or destroyer attacks at a greater distance due to its heavier main battery, and thereby limit the damage such enemy attacks could inflict on the U.S. battle line. He concluded by stating that the U.S. Navy could not, due to treaty restrictions and limited funding, "build special types of vessels for all special functions," and the U.S. delegates should therefore follow the Board s recommendation.16

Admiral Jackson stated that "it has been the historical policy of the United States to carry more guns and larger guns on ships of a given size than the navies of other powers." He reminded Stimson that "this had been true even at the time of the War in 1812 and had been generally followed out since."17

Stimson also questioned each admiral on the development of naval aviation and its effect on the


organization of the fleet. The Board members all expressed similar opinions regarding the relative merits of naval aviation. CNO Hughes, the oldest officer interviewed, noted with pride that in experiments in 1922-1923 "no ship had been sunk by a direct hit from an airplane." As for battleships, Hughes said that they had so "enlarged their anti-aircraft batteries" that he "felt no "fear whatever "of airplane attack."18

The Chairman of the General Board, RADM Andrew T. Long, noted that U.S. naval vessels "are well protected against attack by aircraft." He believed that the primary use of aircraft by the fleet was in spotting fire and in reconnaissance. Aircraft were only "secondarily useful for bomb dropping and strafing, " and Long said that he would not feel "at all alarmed" in a battleship that was under attack by aircraft, as their anti-aircraft defense and armor plating was strong enough to resist any aircraft attack.19

RADM Hough believed that the airplane was a useful adjunct to the fleet, but did not believe that naval aviation would "revolutionize the make-up of the fleet" any more than the torpedo had done. He said that the experiments with bombing attacks by aircraft on ships to date had been directed against unmoving and unarmed hulks with no compartmentation and therefore he did not consider the experiments accurate reflections of a ships capability to


resist such attacks. Hough regarded the aircraft carrier as a useful addition to the battle fleet in that it would protect the battle line against attack from the aircraft of an enemy s carriers.20

RADM J.V. Chase stated that he did not believe aircraft were a menace to battleships and were only a "slight danger" to cruisers. He said that he thought the smaller aircraft carriers of around 14,000 tons now under development were "roost useful," although he said that it was necessary to reduce the number of types of aircraft on a single carrier at present for "convenience in arranging and launching them.21

RADM Jackson believed that since 1924 the defensive efforts against aircraft had surpassed their offensive menace. He noted that at the time the Rodney was built in Great Britain, the "aircraft menace was at its height," and as such the Rodney had been planned to carry a large number of airplanes on its rear deck. Since its completion, he continued, that space had been altered to mount guns, "thus indicating the ideas of the British Navy on this subject."22

All of the above mentioned Board members shared the common conception that naval aviation was a useful adjunct to the fleet in a supporting role. Aircraft launched from warships or carriers would act as scouts for the fleet and would also spot the fleet's long range fire. Aircraft carriers would protect the U.S. battleships against enemy


aircraft attack and also attack the enemy's aircraft carriers. They all believed that a battleship had little to fear from aircraft attacks because of advances in anti-aircraft weapons, armor protection and compartmentation. Overall, every officer believed that carriers should remain as a permanent addition to the fleet.

Two men Stimson interviewed were not members of the Board and they did not share the Board's opinion regarding naval aviation. The first was RADM Moffett, the Chief of "the Bureau of Aeronautics, who disagreed with the General Board's view that the battle fleet was virtually impregnable against air attack. Moffett told Stimson that each year the naval aviation program made significant advances, and the current advance was perfecting the dive bomb attack against captital ships.23

Stimson inquired if Moffett believed these types of attacks would make the battleship obsolete. Moffett stated, that the battleship could not become obsolete so long as other navies retained that type, but that if battleships should be allowed to drop out through obsolescence, "that would offer the greatest possibility of saving possible in naval limitation." Moffett shrewdly noted that he "would not wish to take responsibility" for a complete abolition of battleships because upon the outbreak of a war "it might be found essential to have these central rallying points for fleet manoeuvres." 24


Concerning aircraft and their effect on naval development, Moffett said the airplane contributed range to the "possibilities" of fleet action, as a ship within a radius of 300 miles from any aircraft carrier was within range of horizontal bombers carrying 1,000 pound bombs and dive-bombers carrying two 500 pound bombs, "which means that any fleet well equipped with aircraft carriers could entirely prevent any other fleet from getting within gun range." Here Moffet subtly stated his contention that the days of the Mahanian concept that the battleships were the Navy's primary fighting force would soon change. Moffett was careful not to alienate the Board by pressing his point, because he realized that it would take time for such a change to come about. Moffett did not want to jeopardize his work to date, that is, getting the Navy to construct more carriers and continue to develop naval aviation, and so supported the Board's recommendation concerning the heavy cruisers.25

Assistant Secretary for Aeronautics, David S. Ingalls, in an interview with Stimson, did not hold back on his opinion as to the relative merits of naval aviation.

Ingalls stated that he considered one aircraft carrier to be "the match for five cruisers." He pointed out the "great value of the diving attack of aircraft on ships" that could not "effectively be met in any way," and that even the newest anti-aircraft guns could not be mounted in


sufficient number on ships to "withstand the simultaneous attack by bombing and torpedo planes in large numbers."26 Although Stimson noted the differing opinions regarding the merits of naval aviation, it was clear that the Board members staunchly believed that the U.S. required, at a minimum, twenty-one eight-inch gun cruisers.

Stimson, as mentioned earlier, headed the official delegates, who included Ambassador Dawes, Adams, Senator David A. Reed (Foreign Relations Committee), Senator Joseph T. Robinson (Senate minority leader), the Ambassador to Belgium, Hugh S. Gibson, and Dwight W. Morrow, the Ambassador to Mexico and a close confidant of Hoover. The naval advisors included Admirals Pratt, Jones, RADMs Long and Moffett. In announcing the members of the U.S. delegation. Hoover noted the ongoing Senate investigation of William Shearer, a representative of armament manufacturers charged with attempting to cause the failure of the Geneva Conference. Hoover said that he would not permit such an event to happen in London.27

During these preparations, the Stock Market crashed. No member of the Government or the Navy realized the immediate effects of the crash or the crash's consequences. In a letter to Rear Admiral Charles B. McVay, Commander of the U.S. Asiatic Fleet, Secretary Adams summed up the attitude prevalent among naval officers at the time:

The stock market has recently taken the logical course which most of our friends


predicted that it would. In other words, it has broken to pieces and the fall is just about as violent as the previous rise had been. All this does not seem to affect our friends in the Navy Department very much although, no doubt, a number of those who gamble lightly may have been affected.28

However, once the country's economy began to worsen. Hoover went into action. He was the first U.S. President to offer Federal leadership in mobilizing the economic resources of the public, and in calling upon "individual initiative to accept definite responsibility for meeting the problem of the depression.29 He contained the depression through the combined effect of holding to the current wage scale and increasing the work force by expanding public 30 works at all governmental levels.30

The Federal Reserve System lowered the discount interest rate which helped to ease credit. The Federal Reserve also began its large scale open market purchasing of securities. He continually held meetings with business, industrial, labor, and political leaders and won their cooperation for his programs.31 His primary concern was to hold "expenditures within our income," that is, to maintain a balanced budget.32 Hoover was not alone in his belief that the Government must maintain a balanced budget, the Democrats also advocated this philosophy.33

As the U.S. delegation prepared to sail to Great Britain, the General Board, concerned that the delegates might modify the ratios set by the Washington Treaty,


submitted to Adams a memorandum for the delegates concerning the current battleship ratios. The Board recommended a minimum ratio of 15:15:9, whereby the U.S. would scrap three existing, older battleships, Great Britain five, and Japan one.34 The Board was careful to note the superiority of the Royal Navy's post-war vessels H.M.S. Rodney and Nelson and stated that the existence of these two ships made it "fair, just, and necessary" that the U.S. be permitted to construct two new battleships and Japan one. The Board refused to consider a battleship holiday until parity with Britain had been obtained by eliminating the handicap of the Rodney and Nelson. In order to illustrate the disparity, a hypothetical battle situation was conceived in which the Rodney and Nelson with two other British battleships were pitted against four of America's latest battleships. The Nelson and Rodney would sink all four of the U.S. ships while they fought with the two older British warships. As such, the Board recommended that U.S. battleships should not be minimized or sacrificed by the negotiators.35

The U.S. delegates set sail from New York on January 9, 1930, and reached Plymouth on the 17th. From this point on, the General Board had nothing more to do with the negotiations, those being in the hands of Stimson- As the Conference began, the advisory staff was equally divided over the cruiser question. Admiral Jones was adamant in


his support of the General Board's proposed twenty-one heavy cruisers, whereas Admiral Pratt was willing to accept fewer of the large cruisers in order to obtain a treaty, and all of the diplomats sided with Pratt.

During a meeting with MacDonald and his Foreign Secretary, Arthur Henderson, Stimson developed a cruiser plan that would give the U.S. eighteen heavy cruisers, allow the U.S. to keep the existing ten Omaha class, six-inch gun light cruisers, and also allow the U.S. to construct ten additional light cruisers with six-inch guns, making a cruiser ratio between the U.S., Great Britain, and Japan of 10:10:7. MacDonald and Stimson agreed further that both Great Britain and the U.S. would reduce their battleship fleets to fifteen vessels each, with Japan cutting her fleet to nine vessels by scrapping either the Hiyei or Kongo.36

The following day, February 4, 1930, Stimson cabled Hoover with the results of the meeting. He noted that only Admiral Jones still insisted upon twenty-one heavy cruisers, as he considered them "essential." Stimson then noted that Admiral Pratt and the seven delegates disagreed with Jones and "are now united" in their belief that the twenty-one cruiser program could be insisted on "only with great danger" to the ultimate success" of the Conference.37 Senators Robinson and Reed cabled Senators Claude Swanson and Frederick Hale in Washington, D.C., urging them to


prepare their Senate colleagues for acceptance of eighteen heavy cruisers instead of twenty-one.38 It should be noted that again none of the civilians agreed with Jones or the Board's recommendation, and for the naval advisors only RADM Long sided with Jones.

MacDonald and Stimson realized that the British Admiralty would never consent to allow, the Japanese a 10:10:7 ratio in heavy cruisers, and so Senator David Reed, the principal U.S. negotiator with the Japanese, worked with the Japanese Ambassador to Great Britain, Tsuneo Matsudaira, in the attempt to hammer out a compromise. The settlement, the so called "Reed-Matsudaira Compromise," gave Japan a 10:10:7 ratio in combat auxiliaries and sixty percent of U.S. heavy cruiser tonnage during the life of the treaty. The Japanese would accept eighteen heavy cruisers for the U.S, as long as the U.S. did not begin the construction of the sixteenth cruiser until 1933, the seventeenth until 1934, and the eighteenth until January 1. 1935. Japan would build no heavy cruisers until 1936, the expiration date of the proposed Treaty, but would be allowed to keep its twelve existing eight-inch gun cruisers. The U.S. and Great Britain also granted Japan parity in submarines.39 Admiral Pratt agreed with the compromise, as he realized that Congress would never appropriate the money for the. final three cruisers before the dates specified in the Compromise. He therefore


believed that nothing was lost, and, with the Compromise, the Japanese would sign the treaty.40

RADM Long took exception to Pratt's argument by noting that the Reed-Matsudaira Compromise directly contravened the General Board's recommendations. The U.S. did not need any more six-inch gun cruisers. Long stated that he would rather have four of the eight-inch gun cruisers than five of the six-inch gun cruisers, as he wanted cruisers capable of operating in the far reaches of the Western Pacific and defeating any vessels encountered. The larger cruisers were vital in the defense of the Philippines and trade route protection.41

Senator Reed disagreed with Long and the views held by the General Board. Stimson and Under-Secretary Cotton also supported Senator Reed. On July 3 of the previous year. Cotton noted that the U.S. naval war plans concerning a conflict in the Pacific "is generally based on naval maneuvers ... in defense of the Philippine Islands." Cotton emphasized that "for such maneuvers the United States would need the larger type of cruiser and big battleship." Cotton then noted that such a concept was "out of step with the isolationist sentiment of the United States." He concluded that a navy large enough to defend the Philippines would alarm Japan, the defense of the Philippines depended on the Filipinos, and a navy would not be able to do an adequate job if the airfields were held by


an enemy. He also noted that there was no real pressure from Japan against the Philippine Islands and in any case the "attitude" of Australia and the British at Singapore was an additional safeguard against Japan.42

The conclusions reached by the staff of the Naval War College after-playing war games based on War Plan ORANGE supported Cotton's statements. The staff concluded that in the face of a determined attack by the Japanese, the U.S. forces could not hold the Philippines and that any effort to retake the islands would take an extensive campaign lasting three to four years. As for the U.S. Fleet's plan to sortie from Pearl Harbor to the Philippines, the Naval War College Class of 1933 concluded that such a maneuver was "pure fantasy, unfeasible: it could not be done."43

Cotton also assured Stimson that even with the Reed-Matsudaira Compromise, "The Japanese fleet ... would still be greatly inferior to the American Fleet and no national anxiety as to our dominance in the Pacific in case of controversy need be caused by it."44

As for the rest of the Treaty, British efforts to reduce aircraft carrier tonnage from the 135,000 total tonnage limitation, set by the Washington Treaty, to a new limitation of 100,000 tons was not accepted by Stimson, in part due to Moffett's and Ingall's support of naval aviation relayed during Stimson's interviews with them prior to the conference. The London Treaty also permitted


a number of the U.S. light cruisers to be modified by the addition of a flight deck. Such a vessel would provide the U.S. fleet with a dual purpose vessel that would be under the cruiser category and would not be considered an aircraft carrier. That would leave more tonnage open under the aircraft carrier category, thereby allowing the U.S. to construct more aircraft carriers while still providing the fleet with a greater number of "flight decks."45 The 1930 London Naval Conference ended on April 22, 1930, in an atmosphere that Ambassador Dawes described as "charged with peace, mingled with relief."46

The end result of the Treaty was as follows. The U.S had to scrap three battleships, leaving the U.S. fleet with fifteen. Great Britain had to scrap five, leaving the Royal Navy with fifteen as well, and Japan had to scrap one, leaving the Imperial Japanese Navy with eight. The Washington Treaty ratio for capital ships and aircraft carriers- remained at 5-5-3. The signatories agreed to. extend the capital ship construction holiday, established by the Washington Treaty, until the next conference scheduled for 1936.

Cruisers were divided into two categories, light (ships carrying guns of less than six-inch in caliber), and heavy (ships carrying eight-inch caliber guns or larger), and both categories retained the Washington Treaty limitation on a maximum displacement of 10,000 tons per


ship. The established ratios for cruisers were 10:10:6.6 for heavy cruisers and 10:10:7 for light cruisers and destroyers. Each nation was granted parity in submarines.47

The London Treaty also addressed the issue of submarine conducted commerce warfare ratified by the five signatory powers. Part IV of the Treaty was similar to the submarine amendments to the Washington Treaty except for the removal of the piracy clause and the inclusion of surface ships in the Article's restrictions placed on commerce warfare.48 Three naval advisors heartily supported the Treaty, proving that the General Board's views were not shared by the entire naval establishment.

President Hoover calculated that the Treaty saved the U.S. one billion dollars over the life of the Treaty. Winston Churchill noted that by the terms of the Treaty, Great Britain had made "formal acceptance ... of definitely inferior sea power." In the U.S., Senator Hiram W. Johnson believed that England had been left in a position to "wipe out the whole American fleet." In Japan, the chief of the naval general staff resigned over his dissatisfaction over the Treaty. In part due to his support of the Treaty, young Japanese naval officers assassinated their Prime Minister. 49 The U.S. Navy League stated that because of the complexity of the Treaty, hearings should be postponed "pending a thorough examination of the provisions. 50


President Hoover, ignoring the Navy League's advice, presented the Treaty to the Senate on May 1, 1930. The Foreign Relations Committee scheduled the hearings on the Treaty for May 12, 1930. But on May 6 Senator Frederick Kale announced that due to. the technical nature of the Treaty, the Senate Committee on Naval Affairs would also hold hearings on the London Treaty. He noted that as the Committee on Naval Affairs had to handle all legislation involving the authorization of the naval construction "resulting from the Treaty," it was essential "that it should attempt to secure the best naval opinion on the purely naval problems dealt with by the Treaty."51 Hale assured Senator Borah that the Naval Affairs hearings would not conflict with the Foreign Relations Committee's work, and Borah consented to Hale's wish and the Foreign Relations Committee opened hearings on Hay 12 with Naval Affairs opening on May 14.52

Twenty-five senior naval officers testified before both Committees, including all ten members of the General Board. Every Board member and eleven of the other naval officers questioned all testified against the Treaty. Only Pratt, RADMs Charles Hepburn, Moffett, and Harry E. Yarnell were in favor of the Treaty. The Board, as of March 28, had a new Chairman, RADM Mark L. Bristol (Class of 1887), who replaced the retired A.T. Long.53 Although Bristol was relatively new to the controversy surrounding the Treaty,


he too appeared before the Committees and joined the other officers in voicing dislike of the Treaty. The treatment each officer received before the committees differed greatly, as the Foreign Relations Committee, led particularly by Senator Reed who had been a member of the U.S. delegation at London, grilled each officer who opposed the Treaty's passage. Indeed, many of the Senators on the Foreign Relations Committee had not heard of the General Board. The Naval Affairs Committee, on the other hand, criticized those officers who we're in favor of the Treaty's passage.

The majority of the naval officers who testified to the Committee agreed with Rear Admiral Henry H. Hough's clear and specific arguments against the Treaty. He objected to the fact that the U.S. "gave up the right to build the type of ship we need," and also "abandoned" the Washington Treaty ratio of 5:5:3 and "We accepted subdivision of the cruiser category," that meant the U.S. now had a cruiser type the Board did not want. The negotiators ignored the Board's recommendation against extension of the capital ship building holiday and noted that "We should have gotten one more capital ship." The Treaty forfeited U.S. superiority in destroyers and gave the Japanese parity in submarines. But what galled RADM Hough the most was the fact that the U.S. did not "insist on modification of the base and fortification clause of the Washington Treaty"


when the U.S. granted "an increase of ratio to Japan."54

Senator Reed refused to be swayed by such arguments. He realized that the Board was upset because the Treaty took away its right to build as the Board saw fit, and because the delegation ignored the Board's irreducible minimum of twenty-one heavy cruisers. Senator Reed also realized that there were serious flaws in the Navy's arguments. The eight-inch cruisers were only just being commissioned and had never been tried in combat, let alone during peace time.55

As to the relative merits of the eight-inch gun versus the six-inch, naval officers were again divided. Admiral Pratt testified that the eight-inch gun was a "corker where you have clear weather and high visibility, " but noted that one could not count on clear weather all of the time, and under adverse conditions he preferred the six-inch gun.56 Pratt also said the six-inch gun cruisers would be more effective in defending the battle fleet against an enemy destroyer attack, especially at night, than the eight-inch gun cruiser, because the eight-inch gun would only fire three shots per minute while the six-inch gun fired three times as quickly. But he noted that he did not want to put all of his "eggs in one cruiser basket" and as such stated that "I do not want to do away with the 8 inchers; I am glad to have them for certain work."57 He stated that he wanted eight-inch gun cruisers and six-inch gun cruisers as


well, without specifying the exact number of each type he thought the fleet should have.

Pratt also argued that the Treaty gave the U.S. an advantage in that while Japan and Great Britain would not build any cruisers because their present fleets were already at the treaty ratios, the U.S. could build a number of new cruisers that would incorporate the most recent technological advancements. Pratt also noted that with the Treaty, the U.S. Navy now had a definite plan to build a well balanced fleet.58 Secretary Stimson, Secretary Adams, Admirals Yarnell, Hepburn, and Moffett all supported Pratt's testimony. Yet RADM Frank Schofield, the .prospective Commander in Chief of the U.S. Fleet, estimated that seventy to eighty per cent of the naval officers disagreed with Pratt.59

The main point of contention remained that of the differences between, the relative merits of the six-inch versus the eight-inch gun. The primary differences between the two guns was the distance each could fire, the weight of projectile each could throw, both positive aspects of the eight-inch gun; whereas the six-inch gun could be fired nearly three times as quickly as the eight-inch gun, making this weapon more valuable for close fighting.60

The General Board members refused, to be swayed by Pratt's testimony. RADM Bristol quoted from a General Board report issued in 1923 that concerned the importance


of foreign trade. He began by noting that the merchant marine, supported by a Navy "at least as great as that of any other power, is the surest guarantee we can have that foreign markets will remain open to us."61 He ended this argument with a Mahanian warning: "When foreign markets close to us, American prosperity ends." 62 Again the theme that economic prosperity was inextricably tied to a large merchant marine and a naval force capable of protecting trade and keeping foreign markets open.

Bristol and the other Board members testified that the U.S. Navy needed the larger gun to defeat enemy commerce raiders of the enemy whose armament would consist of six-inch guns. Arming the U.S. cruisers with eight-inch guns gave assurance of victory over the lesser armed but more numerous enemy vessels, according to the Board members. Even in a fleet role, it was better for cruisers to have the largest guns available.

The defenders of the treaty pointed out that the Navy had little experience with the eight-inch gun, and none of the members of the Board had ever sailed on the new eight-inch gun cruisers. Senator Reed, for example, questioned Board member RADM J.V. Chase and discovered that Chase, though an advocate of the eight-inch gun cruiser, had never been on such a vessel, had never seen one "in target practice," and knew very little about the vessels protection against shellfire.63 Such questioning brought out the


fact that the naval officers who supported the larger numbers of the eight-inch cruisers had little or no experience with such warships. These officers simply believed that the "bigger the better."

As the last witness before both Committees, Admiral Yarnell, Chief of the Bureau of Engineering was somewhat more objective in defining his views of the Treaty. He did not adamantly agree with the Board in its opposition to the Treaty on the grounds that the Treaty did not give the U.S. enough heavy cruisers. He stated that although the smaller number of heavy cruisers might adversely, affect the defense of the Philippine Islands, such a view was merely "a matter of opinion."64 He then noted that the "replacement of our obsolete and inefficient destroyer and submarine tonnage," as provided for by the Treaty, "more than offset any admitted loss of cruiser strength."65

In a more positive light, Yarnell noted "the treaty has been bitterly attacked in England and in Japan. The general inference would be that it is as fair to all nations as it was humanly possible to make it."66

The Foreign Relations Committee returned the Treaty to the Senate on June 23, with the recommendation that advice and consent be given to its ratification. But the Senate retired for the summer without acting on it. Hoover, in turn, called a special session of the Senate for July 7, and reminded the Senators that "the only, alternative to


this treaty is the competitive building of navies with all its flow of suspicion, hate, ill will, and ultimate disaster."67 A vote was taken after the debate on the floor on July 21, and the London Naval Treaty passed with a vote of fifty-eight yea, nine nay. Hoover signed it on July 22.68

Hoover's choice of Senator Reed as a negotiator at-the London Conference was a wise one, and Reed deserves the lion's share of the credit for the Treaty's passage. Reed devised the compromise agreement that satisfied the Japanese delegates and allowed them to sign. He also carried the fight for the Treaty's passage and deftly handled the naval opposition. 69 With the passage of the Treaty and the issue over the heavy cruisers settled, the Board put the treaty behind it and prepared to develop plans for the warships it believed would be forthcoming. As the U.S. fleet was below the limits set by the Treaty, the Board believed the U.S. would begin a program to build up the fleet to Treaty standards.

One naval officer could not put the London Treaty behind him. Admiral Pratt would have to pay the price for his support of the Treaty and the Administration in direct disregard of the Board's recommendations, and that price was his reputation within the Navy Department. In a letter to his wife after the close of the hearings, Pratt wrote "I feel so many of the older officers have turned against me. They don't dare show open hostility but I feel it."70


As for his differences with the General Board over the London Treaty, Admiral Pratt wrote that the Board's opposition to the Treaty was "understandable from a naval point of view," but was "actuated too little by the spirit of agreement and too much by the spirit of naval power cloaked under the term 'national security.'"71 Pratt did not consider the British potential adversaries and as such worked towards increasing Anglo-American cooperation. "Trivial technical details" could not, in Pratt's view, get in the way of international cooperation between the two nations. According to Pratt, any split between the U.S. and Great Britain would only benefit the Japanese militarists.72

Although the Board members did not agree with Pratt's views, Pratt was not the only high ranking naval officer who supported the Treaty. RADM Yarnell and RADM Hepburn, both bureau chiefs who had never served on the Board, sided with Pratt and the Administration. RADM Moffett also did not completely agree with the Board's position as he believed that the light cruisers could be converted into dual purpose vessels by the addition of a flight deck. Adding flight decks to the fleet was Moffett's overriding concern. But the majority of the officers of the U.S. Navy agreed with the Board. RADM Bristol refused to forget Pratt's "traitorous" behavior of supporting the Administration's wishes over those of his brother officers.


But, due to the Board's inflexibility during the preliminary negotiations and the during the Senate battle over the London Treaty, Hoover would not ask for the Board's advice again during his Administration, even though the U.S. participated in another armaments conference in 1932.



1. Hoover, Memoirs, pp. 343-345.

2. Foreign Relations Committee, Hearings on the Treaty, pp. 46-5 3.

3. HGB, "Proposed Design of 10,000 Ton Treaty Cruiser," 27 November, 1929, pp. 404-411.

4. General Board Report, No. 438-1, Serial No. 1453, 8 October, 1929, RGB, RG 80, NA.

5. Ibid.

6. Roskill, Naval Policy Between the Wars, p. 24.

7. Morton, Strategy and Command, p. 33.

8. Roskill, Naval Policy Between the Wars, p. 24.

9. Morton, Strategy and Command, pp. 25-27.

10. Roskill, Naval Policy Between the Wars, pp. 21-22.

11. Ibid.

12. London Times, January 16, 1930, 1:17.

13. Roskill, Naval Policy Between the Wars, p. 25.

14. Army and Navy Journal, November 2, 23, 1929; Wheeler, Pratt, pp. 297-298.

15. Cotton wrote: "I suggest in preparation for that [London] conference that you see to it that the General Board of the Navy is not asked to and does not make any report or preparations for the conference such as they made for the Geneva conference. They regard their report as a classic; I regard it as very bad. Their last report was a report on facts with opinions which practically resulted in the delegates having a set of rigid instructions from which it was impossible to depart." State Department Records, "Records of the U.S. Delegation to the London Naval Conference, 1930," Memorandum, Cotton to Stimson, 10 October, 1929, File No. 250/43, Confidential Files, RG 161.


16. Ibid. 2 December, 1929, File No. 250/44.

17. Ibid., 23 October, 1929, File No. 250 U.S./6. All Board members agreed with the Board's stated position regarding the number of heavy cruisers that it believed the U.S. Navy needed.

18. Ibid., 22 October, 1929, File No. 250/73.

19. Ibid., 22 October, 1929, File No. 250/63.

20. Ibid., 26 October, 1929, File No. 250 U.S./8.

21. Ibid., 25 October, 1929, File No. 250 U.S./7.

22. Ibid., 23 October, 1929, File No. 250 U.S./6.

23. Ibid., 22 November, 1929, File No. 250/77.

24. Ibid.

25. Ibid.

26. Ibid., 3 January, 1930, File Mo. 500.A15A3/575.

27. Hoover, Memoirs, p. 348.

28. SECNAV Adams to Admiral McVay, 8 November, 1929, Official Correspondence, Charles B. McVay Papers, LC.

29. Albert U. Romasco, "Herbert Hoover's Policies for Dealing with the Great Depression," in Fausold, The Hoover Presidency, p. 72.

30. Ibid.

31. Ibid. These efforts constituted Hoover's first attempts to control the Depression. During 1930-32, Hoover strengthened his program with additional policies: a moratorium on intergovernmental debts, creation of the Glass-Steagall Bank Credit Act, and the Home Loan Bank and the Emergency Relief and Construction Acts. He was the first President to offer Federal leadership in mobilizing the economic resources of the people.

32. Lewis H. Kimmel, Federal Budget and Fiscal Policy: 1798-1958 (Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Institution, 1959), p. 144.

33. Ibid.; p. 148.


34. Memorandum of General Board for Delegates to the London Conference, No. 438-1, Serial No. 1322, 6 January, 1930, RGB, RG 80, NA.

35. Ibid.

36. Wheeler, Pratt, p. 303; O'Connor, Perilous Equilibrium, p. 70-71.

37. Stimson to Hoover, February 4, 1930, FR, 1930, vol. I, p. 13.

38. Ibid., p. 18.

39. Wheeler, Prelude to Pearl Harbor, p. 174.

40. Wheeler, Pratt, p. 304.

41. Wheeler, Prelude to Pearl Harbor, p. 174.

42. State Department Records, Memorandum by Under-Secretary of State, 3 July, 1929, File No. 500.A15A3/49.5, RG 161, NA; Wheeler, Prelude to Pearl Harbor, p. 175.

43. Stenographic Notes taken at Critique "Senior Class of 1933," 0P1V, May, 1933, as quoted in Michael Vlahos, The Blue Sword: The Naval War College and the American Mission, 1919-1941 (Newport:, Naval War College. Press, 1980), p. 144.

44. FR, 1930, I, p. 46.

45. Coletta, Naval Heritage, p. 273; See also Ernest J. Andrade, Jr., "The Ship That Never Was, The Flying Deck Cruiser," Military Affairs, XXXII (December, 1968), pp. 132-140.

46. Dawes, Journal, p. 193.

47. Coletta, Naval Heritage, p. 273; Ironically, the Japanese Imperial Naval Staff "was enraged" that Japan had only been given parity in submarine tonnage, because it needed 78,000 tons instead of the Treaty mandated 52,700 to fulfill the objectives of its defensive plans against the U.S. Navy, described in Chapter VI, see Masanori Ito and Roger Pineau, The End of the Imperial Japanese Navy, trans. Andrew. Y. Kuroda and Roger Pineau (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1962), p. 15.

48. Burns, "Regulating Submarine Warfare," p. 58.


49. Samuel Eliot Morison, History of the United States Naval Operations in World War II, vol. Ill, The Rising Sun in the Pacific, 1931-April 1942 (Boston: Little, Brown, 1948), p. 317.

50. Rappaport, The Navy League, p. 129.

51. New York Times, May 6, 1930, 1:1.

52. U.S. Congress, Senate, Naval Affairs Committee, Hearings on the London Naval Treaty, 1930 (Washington, D.C.: USGPO, 1931), pp. 1-2.

53. Register of Commissioned Officers, 1931.

54. Foreign Relations Committee, Hearings on the Treaty, p. 291.

55. Ibid., pp. 68, 303-305.

56. Ibid., p. 68.

57. Ibid., pp. 68-69.

58. Ibid., pp. 69-71.

59. Ibid., pp. 242-243, RADM William D. Leahy, the chief of the Ordnance Bureau, wrote in his diary that he felt Pratt had "sold out to President Hoover's pacifist views." He also noted that the "decisions of the conference gave Britain and Japan naval advantages that they had not previously had possessed by treaty rights.... The [U.S.] navy was generally disappointed in the treaty for the reason that it was not advantageous to our national defense. Admiral Pratt seemed to align himself with the administration point of view." Henry H. Adams, Witness to Power: The Life of Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy (Annapolis: NIP, 1985), p. 65.

60. The effectiveness of the longer distance that the eight-inch gun could fire was not easy to predict, as Pratt noted. Also, a ship would need some way of spotting the gunfire at ranges greater than 16,000 yards (about 12 miles), usually by the cruiser's aircraft.

61. Foreign Relations Committee, Hearings on the Treaty, p. 107.

62. Ibid.


63. Ibid., pp. 303-305.

64. Ibid., p. 359.

65. Ibid.

66. Ibid., p. 366.

67. O'Connor, Perilous Equilibrium, p. 114.

68. Ibid.

69. Ibid., p. 117.

70. William V. to Louise Pratt; as quoted in Wheeler, Pratt, pp. 308-309.

71. Admiral William V. Pratt, "Limitation of Armament," USS Texas, 1930; as quoted in Wheeler, Pratt, p. 322.

72. Ibid.



After Hoover signed the London Naval Treaty, the General Board began to prepare plans to build up the Navy to the maximum Treaty limits. Ignoring the Federal Government's fiscal difficulties, the Board insisted that a buildup was necessary because the Treaty limits were far above the current U.S. warship levels. The Board's efforts were in direct opposition to President Hoover's promotion of the Treaty as a means of cutting naval spending.1 This chapter will examine the Board's efforts from 1930 through 1932 to prepare building programs in light of the terms of the London Naval Treaty, President Hoover's intentions, changes in the Navy's organization, and the increasing fiscal difficulties brought about by the Depression.

The Board members therefore chose to believe that the Treaty mandated building up the U.S. Navy to the Treaty limits. When Hoover signed the Treaty in July, 1930, the U.S. Navy was 153,698 tons below the maximum tonnage permitted. By contrast, the Imperial Japanese Navy was only 5728. tons below. The Navy League was careful to note this difference between the two fleets in its letters to the public, press editors, and congressional representatives in


support or a naval buildup as advocated by the Board.2

Little change occurred in the membership of the General Board during 1930, except for RADM Mark Bristol's promotion to the Chairmanship of the Executive Committee of the Board to replace the retired RADM Long, and the replacement of Captain R.L. Ghormley by Commander T.C. Kinkaid (Class of 1908).3 RADM Jackson retired, and was not replaced during 1930. The ex-officio members included the Major General Commandant of the Marine Corps, W.C. Neville, the Director of Naval Intelligence, Captain H.A. Baldridge (Class of 1902), the President of the Naval War College, RADM J.R.P. Pringle (Class of 1894), and the venerable CNO, Admiral Hughes.4

RADM J.V. Chase and J.R. Blakely made up the first section of the Executive Committee. The second section of the Board consisted of RADM T.J. Senn, and RADMs G.C. Day and H.V. Butler covered the third section. RADM F.H. Clark ran the forth section. Also assigned to the Board as general assistants were Lt. Colonel J.C. Lucas, USMC (Class of 1891), and Captain W.R. Gherardi (Class of 1895). 5

The greatest concern of the Board in 1930 was the building program for fiscal 1932. As previously noted, the U.S. Navy had only ten light and two heavy cruisers. Its destroyers and many of its battleships were over-age and needed to be modernized or replaced. Before the London Conference, new ship construction for each year had first


to be authorized and then be funded by Congress. Such a process led to haphazard replacement. The only satisfactory alternative was the so called "blanket authorization" bill that would authorize a building program covering a period of years, usually five. A blanket authorization bill would by-pass the yearly struggle with Congress and would allow a continuous building program that would provide new ships and replacements on a consistent basis. As such a bill had yet to be passed, the Navy Department and the General Board followed the traditional path to obtain naval appropriations.

Hoover subscribed to the belief that the primary duty of the government was to hold expenditures within the government's income. His view was like that of most members of the government and the leading economists of the period who believed that the principal test of sound" fiscal management was to maintain a balanced budget. That task became increasingly difficult as government revenues declined during the Depression. To Hoover, who had to hold spending down somewhere, the Navy was a leading target for cuts and one reason why he persisted in his efforts to get a naval limitations treaty through the Senate.6 He did not believe the U.S. should build up to the Treaty limits and instead ordered SECNAV Adams to reduce the Navy's 1932 budget to a level lower than its 1931 budget.7

The Board received a letter from Assistant SECNAV


Jahnke in February, 1930, to begin preparing its recommendations on a building program that would take into account the naval policy of the United States and should be turned into SECNAV Adams as "soon after the [London] conference adjourns as possible."8 Jahnke neither mentioned the fiscal difficulties facing the government nor recommended that the Board consider any restraint in deference to prevailing Presidential sentiment. Bristol ordered Blakely and Chase to begin preparing the Board's recommendation.

While the Board continued to develop its recommended building program during the fall of 1930, a change took place in the Navy's top command, a change that was to directly affect the General Board. As of September 9, 1930, Hoover replaced the retiring CNO Hughes with Admiral William Veazie Pratt. Pratt took over Hughes' job on September 17, 1930, and thus became the Navy's fifth CNO. 9

The differences between Hughes and Pratt soon become evident. As noted earlier, Pratt did not consider Great Britain a possible adversary of the U.S, whereas Hughes did. Also, Hughes, as an ex-officio member of the Board, took an active part in its work and had signed the major recommendations personally, thereby adding the influence of his position as CNO to the Board's recommendations. Pratt did not share Hughes' perception of the General Board.

As the new CNO, Pratt again found himself on the


Board. During 1921 through .1923, he had been a member of the Executive Committee of the Board, and had played an important role during the Washington Naval Conference. He believed that many members of the current General Board did not agree with his views on the British or naval disarmament or his close relationship with an Administration that many naval officers, including RADM Bristol, thought was anti-navy. Pratt therefore preferred not to sit on the Board, although by regulations he was an ex-officio member. He never called a full meeting of the Board and instead let Bristol conduct is business. Pratt, nonetheless, saw fit to sit in on any of the Board's hearings on topics that interested him personally.11

The Board submitted its recommended building program for fiscal 1932 to Adams on October 16, 1930.11 In the first paragraph of the recommendation, the Board noted that the London Treaty mandated a construction program, and so based its recommendation on this belief. The Board proposed three programs, a specific proposal for fiscal 1932, a five year program, and a fifteen year program. The Board's proposal for fiscal 1932 called for the continuation of the battleship modernization program and the construction of one aircraft carrier, two six-inch gun cruisers, eleven destroyers, four submarines, and twelve scouting aircraft.12

The five year program proposed that the Navy continue the battleship modernization program and build up to Treaty


strength by 1936 in the ratio specified for cruisers (10:10:7) by laying down three additional heavy cruisers and 73,000 tons of light (six-inch gun) cruisers at a cost of $551,000,000 during fiscal 1932. The fifteen year program outlined a continuous construction program through 1947 and included the replacement of every U.S.. battleship by 1945. 13

Both the five year and fifteen year programs provided for a continuous building program and an orderly replacement schedule that would insure that a large number of vessels of the same class did not reach the scrapping age simultaneously. Each program would also allow the U.S. to reach the total tonnage allowed by the two naval treaties prior to their expiration in 1936. The Board believed that in order to have a solid bargaining position at the next conference the U.S. Fleet must have all of the ships permitted by the two previous treaties either in the water or on the building ways. The Board members hoped that the U.S. negotiators at the next conference would not be so willing to sacrifice actual warships as they had been to reduce the Board's recommended paper fleet of twenty-one cruisers during the London Conference of 1930.

SECNAV Adams approved only the Board's proposal for fiscal 1932, as the cost of the other two proposals was "inhibitive."14 Moreover, in December 1930, Hoover informed Adams that the Navy would have to choose between battleship


modernization and heavy cruiser construction, as the combination of the two would be too expensive. Without consulting the Board, Pratt and Adams decided on the battleship modernization. 15 As for the building program for fiscal 1932, Adams' staff wrote the proposal into a bill and he presented it to Congress. 16

Though the Naval Affairs Committee approved the bill, it was not passed before the Seventy-first Congress adjourned in March, 1931. The Navy League blamed Hoover for "dragging his feet and for failing to exert positive leadership."17 By the time the bill made it before the Naval Subcommittee on Appropriations during the third session of Congress, it was clear that Hoover and Congress did not agree with the Board's interpretation of the London Treaty, stated in the opening paragraphs of the recommendation. The Board noted that the London Treaty now defined the size and composition of the U.S. fleet, and therefore aims to maintain world peace by "establishing a balance of world power." 18 The Board warned that this balance "fails" unless each navy "is actually composed of the specified tonnages and of vessels of comparable useful remaining life." 19 The Board concluded by noting that the proposed building program "is based upon the above considerations."20

Some influential members of Congress believed that the Treaty did not mandate anything. As Burton French, the head of the Naval Appropriations Sub-Committee, explained


"the bounds of the treaty are intended to be guides beyond which no nation may go, "and were not "mandates upon the several nations to build their navies up to a certain required strength." 21

Despite Congressman French's view. Congress approved the appropriation fox the Board's building plan. Construction on the CV-4, eleven destroyers, two cruisers, and two submarines commenced in 1931. Congress also appropriated enough money to continue the battleship modernization program that began in 1930.22

On October 8, 1930, Pratt ordered forty-eight ships taken off the active list and 4800 enlisted personnel released from the service, thereby saving the government 23 nearly $11,000,000.00. 23 But Pratt refused to yield to Congressional efforts to cut back appropriations for the air program, or de-commission either the Saratoga or the Lexington, although such a move would entail considerable savings.

Pratt's predecessor faced similar problems. As early as March, 1929, CNO Hughes, under pressure from Congress, asked his Director of the' Naval War Plans division if it would be feasible to reduce the service time of the Saratoga and the Lexington because each carrier cost 5500,000 a year more to operate than a battleship. Would it be possible, asked Hughes, to lay up one carrier for one-half a year at a time?24 The Director of War Plans, RADM


Schofield, in his reply, noted that such a plan would save only 5150,000 dollars a year due to the costs of first de-commissioning and then re-commissioning each vessel on a rotating basis. 25

Schofield argued against such a plan by noting that "they are the most powerful airplane carriers in the world." Since their first employment with the fleet, the U.S. had succeeded in developing the "most powerful aircraft organization of any navy in the world." He emphasized that "no individual ship in the U.S. Navy is needed more for the tactical and strategic development of the fleet" than the aircraft carriers, proving that some officers in the Navy regarded the carriers as critical to the future development of the U.S. fleet.26

Although such views did not convince many congressmen, the Navy did not put either carrier in a de-commission status. By 1931 the naval air arm completed its five year expansion plan and had one thousand aircraft in service, which thereby made it the most modern component of the Navy.27 Pratt and Moffett successfully resisted Congress' efforts to cut back appropriations for the Navy's air program throughout the years of Hoover's Administration.

The rest of the Navy was not so fortunate. Ship deterioration due to age and personnel limits were the most pressing problems that the Navy faced. The battleships and cruisers required yearly overhauls, but Adams ordered that


the time between overhauls be extended to eighteen months to save costs.28 A large portion of the fleet neared obsolescence, and Adam's order therefore made the situation worse and Pratt realized that some vessels would be forced out of service. During 1930, the Navy sold thirteen prewar cruisers as scrap and laid up fifty-eight aging destroyers when problems with their boilers became acute.29

In Adam's 1929 Annual Report, he noted that the fleet was badly undermanned."30 Providing personnel for the Navy's new cruisers and growing aviation program continuously drained the commissioned and enlisted manpower pool during Hoover's Administration. Because Congress set the limit on the number of active duty personnel for the Navy and refused to increase this limit, the problem became critical, as many warships went to sea with only seventy percent of their normal complement.31 But, the Depression did benefit the Navy in one respect: the quality of servicemen was the best it had been in years. Re-enlistment levels were high, and recruiting officers picked the best from the thousands of unemployed men who flocked to the recruiting offices because of the Depression.32

During 1931, the Navy ordered a number of new officers to report to the General Board for duty. RADM A. St. Clair Smith (Class of 1897) joined the Executive Committee to replace RADM Hough, who the Commander, Base Force.


The Navy promoted RADM Reeves to a full admiral and ordered him to take command of the fleet as the Commander in Chief, Battle Force, U.S. Fleet. Captain R.R. Gherardi took over as the chief of the Hydrography Office and Commander H.C. Train went to the Mississippi.33

Rather than build the Navy up to London Treaty strength. Hoover sought further arms reductions through another international conference. In 1925, the League of Nations had begun preparations for a world disarmament conference. The primary objective of the conference was to reduce the size of the world's armies. Another was to promote naval arms reduction as well. In September, 1930, the League set the date of February 2, 1932 for the opening of the Conference. Hoover promptly announced that the U.S. would participate and at the same time agreed to a one year arms holiday proposed by the Italian Foreign Minister Dino Grandi, to begin on November 1, 1931.34

Hoover decided that civilian diplomats would again handle the negotiations at the Conference. As the national election was in November of the following year. Hoover hoped that success at Geneva would mean further naval reductions and considerable budget savings. He. undoubtedly believed such achievements would help his campaign.35 Hoover instructed Adams to issue an order to officers of the Navy that no officer be permitted to make any public statement critical of the upcoming conference or the President's


efforts to reduce naval spending. Adams passed the order on to Pratt, who issued a "gag order" that ordered all naval officers to refrain from making any public statements that criticized the Administration's policies.36 Hoover then put Pratt in charge of forming a small naval advisory group.

The Board played no role in the proceedings beyond drafting a position report issued to the U.S. delegates. Bristol voiced his opinion of the armament question in a letter to a friend. He noted that:

We cannot set an example to the rest of the world by disarming, but we can set an example to the rest of the world by maintaining an armament which will be an emblem of the potential energy and strength of the United States to influence other nations who might attempt to take unscrupulous advantage of the United States.37

Bristol and the Board held to the age-old belief that only through strength could peace then be maintained, a belief held by members of the armed forces and by military advocates, including William Gardiner.

During, the spring of 1931, the Board held hearings on subjects that would be brought up at the Geneva Conference. The Board members expected that the British would propose, as they had done at Geneva in 1927 and London in 1930, that all battleships either be eliminated or limited to 25,000 tons displacement and be allowed to carry guns no larger in caliber than twelve inches.

The Board decided unanimously to reject any British


plan to eliminate the battleship class altogether primarily because the battleship was the "only substitute the United States can offer for well located fortified naval bases in a distant campaign," bases the U.S. lacked but the British did not.38 The Board members also believed that due to Great Britain's large merchant marine and cruiser force, the complete elimination of the battleship would leave the U.S. woefully behind the Royal Navy in fighting ability. Another reason the Board objected to the proposal had to do with, the Board's concern about Japan. The Board members were not about to eliminate battleships because they believed the U.S. Battle Fleet was the only practical defense of U.S. interests in the far East in the event of war with Japan.

As for the question of capital ship reduction, the Board reviewed the characteristics of the H.M.S. Hood, Rodney, and Nelson, warships it believed to be the most powerful in the world. Such concern was somewhat pointless, as the newly modified U.S. battleships were nearly equal in every respect to the British vessels. Admiral Pratt laid the member's concerns to rest. He had recently inspected the H.M.S. Nelson and Rodney, and told the Board that he was less impressed with those ships than he had been before this inspection.39 He thought that the absence of armor protection for the forecastles of each vessel spelled doom to the command-and control section of the


ships, that the arrangement of the sixteen-inch guns was such that neither ship could fire a full broadside without fear of capsizing, and that both lacked adequate side armor protection. Pratt also noted that whereas U.S. battleships could be readily converted to twelve-inch guns, such a change would not be as easy to accomplish on the Rodney or the Nelson due to the unique positioning of the main battery.40

In the end, the Board agreed that the U.S. could refit all existing battleships with twelve-inch guns while maintaining their present displacement, thus allowing sufficient armor protection against a twelve-inch shell, torpedo and bomb attack, and keep the long cruising radius. However, the Board members and Pratt all agreed that the U.S. should not reduce its battleship fleet below the current fifteen vessels.41

Thus, despite the attention the Board gave to aircraft carriers, all senior officers on the Board, and even Admiral Pratt, still saw the battleship as the premier fighting vessel of the fleet. They were therefore hostile to any suggestion to reduce either the number or size of U.S. capital ships. Such a consensus was evident to Secretary Stimson when he interviewed the individual members of the Board prior to the London Naval Conference. On that occasion, each Board member stated that the battleship was the most potent warship in the fleet and


that any attempt to eliminate or change their characteristics would be foolhardy.42 Such a belief was prevalent in 1931, as indicated by a letter written by SECNAV Adams to Admiral McVay, then Commander of the U.S. Asiatic Fleet. Adams wrote "The old belief that the battleship is the foundation of all naval power and that every other arm only supplements their power, is more clear than ever."43

The Board next considered the French proposal that would also be brought up at the Conference. The French suggested using budgetary limitation instead of the quantity limitation that was the method used at previous conferences. Originally designed for land armaments, the French suggested applying this proposal to the limitation of naval forces. The Board did not favor the French proposal. It noted that Japan would not publish military expenditure, figures and as such "absolutely objected to budgetary limitation for naval purposes."44 The Japanese were secretive about their fleet, and had the Japanese released such figures, such a revelation would disclose the fact that the Japanese spent more per ship than their Western counterparts, in line with the Imperial Japanese Navy's practice or advocating "quality over quantity."45

In fact, the Board knew very little about the Imperial Japanese Navy, although the head of the ONI was an ex-officio member of the Board. ONI had maintained a secret slush fund to finance a covert operation to break Japanese


naval codes, but by 1931 their work virtually halted after its acting director. Captain William Baggaley, returned the remaining money to the Treasury in a "fit of conscience" prompted by Stimson's 1929 sanction against all U.S. code-breaking activities.46 This proved to be an unfortunate incident, because previously the U.S. had been quite successful in breaking Japanese codes. Herbert O. Yardley, head of the Black Chamber, broke the Japanese diplomatic codes during the Washington Naval Conference and consequently gave the U.S. negotiators a great edge over their Japanese counterparts. The U.S. delegates knew minimum limits acceptable by the Japanese government and were thus able to "maneuver" the Japanese into accepting that limit, the 5:5:3 ratio.47

Once the Government closed Yardley's Black Chamber in-response to Stimson's demands, the principle efforts at breaking Japanese codes and ciphers fell upon the U.S. Army's Signal Intelligence Service under the civilian William F. Friedman and the Navy's Code and Signal Section of the Office of Naval Communications (ONC).48 The ONC acquired the Red code book from ONI in 1929, a translation of the Imperial Japanese Fleet's code book, obtained and de-coded surreptitiously during the 1920's. With the Red book and radio intercepts obtained during Japanese fleet maneuvers in 1931, ONC was able to put together the Japanese order of battle and discovered that the Japanese


had compromised the latest War Plan ORANGE.49

ONC forwarded the acquired information to Adams on January 31, 1931, yet the head of ONI, Captain Harry A. Baldridge, was not made privy to the intelligence; and it was therefore not forwarded to the General Board. Pratt made the decision to withhold this information because he believed that he could not trust Baldridge. Pratt noted that "one suspicion on the part of the Japanese would undo the accomplishment of seven years."50 This changed in 1933 when CNO Admiral William H. Standley agreed to grant ONI direct access to all intelligence about the Imperial Japanese Navy.51 Nevertheless, curing the years of Hoover's Administration, the Board, and indeed the majority of the Navy, knew very little about the Japanese Navy.

In its final report on the upcoming conference, the Board noted that it opposed "budgetary limitation of armaments as not reflecting American strength accurately due to the high American cost of living."52 The Board also noted that it opposed any further reduction of naval forces taken independently of land armaments. As for naval limitation, the Board declared that it favored the abolition of the submarine. If the Navy eliminated the submarine, the Board argued, destroyer tonnage might then be reduced, because one of the destroyer's primary tasks was to protect the fleet against submarine attack. The Board also recommended that cruiser, aircraft carrier, and


battleship tonnage remain at their current levels "unless the international situation changes radically."53

Also during the spring of 1931, SECNAV Adams ordered the Board to revise the Naval Policy of the United States. Adams attempted to get the Board to shorten the length of the Policy and add in some "consideration of finances" as well. Adams believed that the Policy itself was too lengthy. He wanted "a few short principles that really mean something," and not have each bureau attempt to put in their requirements or suggestions.54 But the Policy was the basis on which the Board made its yearly building recommendations, and each bureau, according to the Board, had to have a statement on what that bureau's responsibilities were and what it needed to accomplish those responsibilities. So despite Adams' suggestion, the Board spent the entire hearing deciding if the wording of the "Fundamental Naval Policy of the United States" was correct.

The Board questioned whether the statement "overseas possessions" was in fact correct, or should the Policy read "overseas territories." The Board decided that since "some of our possessions are not territories" the Policy should remain unchanged. The Board also decided that instead of mentioning both the Washington and London treaties under the "Building and Maintenance Policy," in the interests of conciseness, the words "Treaty Provisions" would be substituted. Although Adams attended the entire hearing, he did


not speak further, and the Policy remained as lengthy as it always had.

On April 1, 1931, Pratt signed the administrative chart that reorganized the U.S. Fleet into four "Forces," without obtaining the Board's opinion of the change. The first division was the Battle Force, commanded by a full admiral. It consisted of those vessels that normally, operated in the Pacific as units of the Battle Fleet. A vice admiral commanded the battleships of the Battle Fleet, while rear admirals commanded the cruisers, destroyers, and aircraft squadrons. A vice admiral commanded the Scouting Force and subordinate to him was a new vice admiral billet for Commander of Cruisers, Scouting Force. Rear admirals commanded the destroyer and aircraft squadrons of the Scouting Force. A rear admiral commanded the Submarine Force, based at New London, Pearl Harbor, and Coco Solo. The final division was the Base Force, commanded by a rear admiral and consisting of two training squadrons, one based with the Scouting Force and the other with the Battle Force.56

Adams approved Pratt's reorganization with the hope that it would stress training and the development of unified tactics and doctrines for the Navy. The plan also called for a reduction of the authorized enlisted personnel limit by 4800 men and the decommissioning of one battleship, sixteen destroyers, twenty-five S class submarines,


and five miscellaneous light vessels in order to meet Hoover's demands to reduce naval expenditures. Pratt's plan remained in effect until 1940.57

In February, 1931, the Board began to prepare its fiscal 1933 building program and submitted the program to Adams in April.58 Underlying this recommendation, as well as the previous year's proposal, was the Board's fear that if the U.S. did not build or at least authorize the vessels necessary to bring the U.S. Navy up to the strength provided for by the London Treaty of 1930, such ships might be bargained away at the next scheduled conference to take place in London during 1936. The Board also noted that while the U.S. was not building cruisers, Japan was.59 Consequently, the Board urged that the U.S. begin construction of one 10,000 ton cruiser armed with eight-inch guns in accordance with the London Treaty, two aircraft carriers, one standard light cruiser and one with a flying deck, one destroyer leader, six submarines, and one hundred and fourteen aircraft for the CV-4.60

Both Pratt and Adams accepted the Board's proposal, and Bristol wrote enthusiastically to RADM Long, Retired, "We got through a very good building program for 1933, including in that program practically everything that was left off of the 1932 program, which was not appropriated for the last Congress."61 He also noted that "the Department is lined, up as a whole in back of the present program."


Hoover and his budget director did not agree with the Navy and called for a meeting with Admiral Pratt and Secretary Adams at the President's retreat at Camp Rapidan in June.

Hoover let SECNAV Adams and CNO Pratt know that he wanted the Navy to reduce its expenditures by a minimum of ten percent and delay all construction. The President then asked Adams if the Navy had ever considered asking Congress for a "lump sum" appropriation, thus doing away with the "usual wrangles" over the importance of "one item over another."63 Adams replied that such a plan should be put into effect, and added that he believed the "lump sum" approach was the only way to handle appropriations.64 The plan, however, was not put into effect during Hoover's Administration due to fiscal difficulties.

Pratt, in October, 1931, ordered the Board to submit a new building program that requested the bare minimum construction necessary to keep the yards open. The Board complied and submitted a proposal on November 12, 1931.65

The new proposal called for the construction of one 10,000 ton, eight-inch gun cruiser, one aircraft carrier, one flying deck cruiser, one destroyer, three submarines, and two patrol boats.66 Adams rejected the plan cue to recent events that included a moratorium on naval construction authorized by President Hoover on November 1, 1931. There was to be no more construction approved during the remainder of Hoover's term of office. Hoover also cancelled the


construction of six of the eleven destroyers appropriated for the previous year.67 The Board prepared another building proposal for fiscal 1934, simply a restatement of the previous year's proposal, but the President ordered Adams not to send it to Congress.68

Such events disturbed many naval officers. But little could be done because of Pratt's gag order. Throughout 1931, Hoover, was determined to reduce government expenditure. Pratt and the Army Chief of Staff, General Douglas MacArthur, convinced the President that the U.S. could defeat Japan in the event of war, so long as Great Britain sided with the U.S. They also assured Hoover that the U.S. Army and Navy could, with forces then available, protect the continental U.S. from any attack. These assurances led Hoover to continue to press Adams and Pratt to reduce the Navy's budget. The President even asked Adams to return any appropriations the Navy had not yet spent to the Treasury.69

Such assurances did not take into account Japan's growing aggressiveness. In September, 1931, Japanese forces invaded the Chinese portion of Manchuria. The Board believed that the Japanese attack threatened the "Open Door Policy." Hoover decided to counter Japan's aggression diplomatically because in reality, there was little the U.S. Navy could have done to stop the Japanese. 70 The U.S. Asiatic Fleet consisted only of one modern light cruiser.


the Houston, and a number of older submarines and destroyers.71

During the same month, Pratt submitted to Adams and the Board a plan to reduce the size of the operating fleet by placing one-third of the vessels into a rotating reserve system, much like the earlier plan to rotate the Lexington and Saratoga. The plan would save money and allow the shins in reduced commission to have their hulls cleaned and receive any overhauls that might be needed. The Board's reaction could not have been a surprise to Pratt. The Board noted that "some such plan" may have been necessary to reduce expenses, but pointed out that a "Treaty Navy of which 33 per cent is in reduced or reserve commission is not in reality a 'Treaty Navy,'" unless Great Britain and Japan also put "33 per cent" of their navies in reduced or reserve condition.72

The Board characteristically refused to acknowledge the seriousness of the economic condition of the country. More importantly, it did not offer any alternative solutions or constructive criticism. The Board members, and in particular RADM Bristol, would not work with Pratt and were hostile to any plan that would reduce the operating efficiency of the Navy and therefore did not offer any other solutions. The Board correctly believed that it must stand by what it believed to be the best interests of the Service, no matter what the current political or economic


situation might dictate to anyone not on the Board. The Board complied with every order issued to it, but only begrudgingly accepted plans that it believed to be detrimental to the Navy. Nevertheless, Adams ordered Pratt to begin implementing the plan.

On October 28, 1931, William H. Gardiner, the President of the Navy League, publicly criticized Hoover's naval policies, and called the President "abysmally ignorant." Hoover stated that Gardiner has "overstepped the limits of respect and good taste," and declared that an independent committee of inquiry would, be set up to investigate Gardiner's charges.73 The committee consisted of Admiral Hugh Rodman, J.H. Hammond, former assistant Secretary of the Treasury Eliot Wadsworth, the Undersecretary of State William R. Castle, and the Assistant Secretary of the Navy Ernest L. Jahnke. All except Rodman were personal friends or Hoover.74 Privately, Hoover instructed J. Edgar Hoover to investigate Gardiner and the activities of the Navy League.75 The Committee cleared the President of any wrongdoing, whereupon Hoover demanded a public apology from Gardiner, an apology that was not forthcoming.

Also during the month of December, the Board held hearings on a suggestion put forth by Admiral Pratt concerning the means by which the flag-selection board would determine which captains would advance to flag rank. Pratt proposed that the board draw up two lists of those


chosen to advance to flag rank instead of the current practice of drawing up a single list. The first list would include those recommended for future sea duty and higher command in the fleet. The second list would include those RADMs who would receive only shore duty assignments, and would then retire from active duty after one year.76

Under the existing system, not all captains advanced to flag rank. The Navy forced those not chosen to retire as captains. Pratt's proposal permitted all captains to advance to flag rank, though not all would be allowed to serve longer than one year. Pratt hoped that such a system would remove the "sting" of not being selected to advance.77

The Board did not approve of Pratt's suggestion because the members believed that such a plan would "cheapen" the flag rank if all captains were allowed to advance, although they noted that such a plan would remove the "sting" of non-promotion currently felt by those captains passed over and forced to retire with only four gold stripes on their sleeves. But the consensus of the Board toward promotion policy, was "why fix something that is not broken."78

The Navy, started 1932 on a positive note, as Representative Carl Vinson of the House Naval Affairs Committee in January submitted a bill that called for the construction of 120 warships at a cost of 616 million dollars, but the bill died in committee.79 Throughout the


rest of 1932, the Board held a mere eight hearings; the building program recommendation for fiscal 1934 was the same as the previous year. Board member RADM J.V. Chase replaced Mark Bristol as the Chairman of the Executive Committee when Bristol retired on April 16, 1932. A number of new officers replaced the members who either retired from the Board or moved on to new commands. RADMS G.R. Marvell (Class of 1889), C.B. McVay, Jr. (Class of 1890), Captains C.W. Cole (Class of 1899), J.W. Greenslade (Class of 1399), and E.S. Jackson (Class of 1900) all joined the Executive Committee. Commander T.S. Wilkenson (Class of 1909, awarded the Medal of Honor during World War I) replaced T.C. Kinkaid as the Secretary of the Board. RADM Senn became the Commander, Base Force, U.S. Battle Fleet. RADM Butler took command of Battleship Division Three, Battle Force. RADM Day became the President of the Board of Inspection and Survey, RADM A. St. Clair Smith cook over the command of the Norfolk Navy Yard and RADM Blakely retired.80

Prompted by suggestions from Pratt and Pringle, Bristol, in March, 1932, submitted a memorandum to Pratt suggesting that the Navy Regulations be changed. Bristol suggested the removal of the CNO and the other ex-officio members (President of the Naval War College, Director of Naval Intelligence, Major General commandant of the Marine Corps) from the Board. Pratt concurred and the regulations


were so changed.81

The changes conformed to Pratt's belief that the General Board should be strictly advisory to the SECNAV and the CNO. Having the CNO on the Board, Pratt believed, caused a conflict of interest. Pratt noted that "the General Board is the Secretary's board and should act as a balance wheel for the Navy. 82 The Board, Pratt and Bristol believed, should be free to make its own judgments, as should the CNO. Bristol explained the change by noting that there would be no ex-officio members on the Board, and that the Executive Committee was now composed of not less than five line officers, three of whom had to be of flag rank.83

The changes ended the mixture of executive and administrative duties that occurred due to the ex-officio members of the Board who held executive offices within the Navy Department while at the same time serving on the Board that, by regulations; had no executive powers. The Board was now made up of officers whose only concern, ideally, was the Board and not other offices to which the members might be assigned. The Board's advice, coupled with that of the CNO, now gave the SECNAV two sources of opinion and 84 information.84

Some Board members saw the removal of their ex-officio colleagues as an attempt by Pratt to "demean the Board and weaken its influence." They also realized that Pratt's advice would be contrary to the Board's, as Pratt


consistently supported the Administration, especially during the London Conference and as such, had sold out the Navy by supporting Hoover and ignoring the Board's recommendations about the heavy cruiser fleet. Regardless of the motivation behind the change, one fact remained clear: the Board was now divorced from any active connection with the operation of the fleet.85

By June of 1932, the World Disarmament Conference stalled. The U.S. delegation, headed by Secretary Stimson and Hugh Gibson, the U.S. Ambassador to Belgium, arrived in Geneva during February. But the U.S. delegates only participated as observers in the early negotiations. As Stimson noted to a French delegate, "Having restricted our Navy and reduced our Army and being out of air range from Europe, we are not going to take a leading position."86 The U.S. began to take a more prominent role in the negotiations when Hoover released to the press a statement that Gibson was then reading to the delegates on June 22, 1932, after Hoover noted that the Conference was nearing collapse.

Hoover recommended that all nations at the Conference abolish tanks, chemical warfare weapons, and large mobile guns. He divided land armament into two classes: a police component to maintain internal order and a defense force to thwart external aggression. He further proposed that the same nations reduce their land armies by one-third,


exclusive of the police force, abolish all bombing planes, reduce battleship numbers and tonnage by one-third, aircraft carrier, cruiser, and destroyer tonnage by one-fourth, and submarine tonnage by one-third, leaving a maximum of 35,000 tons in submarines per nation. He proposed that France and Italy compute their naval strength "as though they had joined in the London Treaty." 87

Although Hoover ignored the Board's proposal for the Conference, his own proposals revitalized the Conference and got the diplomats talking again. Hoover originally proposed to his cabinet to reduce all fleets by forty percent, abolish all submarines and aircraft carriers, and cut the other categories of warships by thirty percent. Hoover amended his proposal to those figures released by Gibson at Geneva because Pratt only condoned a twenty percent reduction in capital ship tonnage and Stimson did not agree to any reduction in the "size"of the U.S. Fleet due to Japan's growing aggressiveness. 88 But the British refused to accept Hoover's plan, and the French would only agree to it if the U.S. would sign a consultative pact with France, which Hoover rejected as "a political impossibility."89 With the French-U.S. deadlock, the Conference fell apart.

The failure of the World Disarmament Conference began a slow path to the ultimate rejection of international disarmament by the U.S., Great Britain, and France, in


light of increasing Japanese aggression and Germany's re-armament. In the spring of 1933, Japan announced its intention to withdraw from the London Treaty upon its expiration in 1935, and soon thereafter withdrew from the League of Nations. Germany withdrew from the League in October 1933. The President's view that "as security by pacific means advances, so security, vainly sought by arms, will disappear," did not work, at least not during the early 1930s.90

By the end of 1932, the Navy was still one hundred and twenty ships short of treaty strength. Personnel problems and ship deterioration plagued the fleet, and there was little hope of relief in sight.92 But, the Board did not consider the economic difficulties that faced the nation when it recommended the yearly building program. The Board continually pressed for what it believed the Navy needed. But the General Board's influence within the Navy Department was waning. The CNO was then the most powerful and influential officer in the U.S. Navy. Because of Pratt's willingness to work with the Administration, Hoover turned to the CNO for advice more than he did to any officer. Whether or not Pratt actually planned to increase the power of his office power is difficult to determine, but the main consequence of his tenure in office was that the CNO became the man to whom the Chief Executive would turn.



1. There would be some savings in the Treaty stipulation that three old, dreadnaughts were to be scrapped, but "by and large" the London Treaty, according to the Board, was a "challenge" to build up to the strength permitted under the Treaty, especially in cruisers. Albion, Makers of Naval Policy, p. 245.

2. Rappaport, Navy League, p. 136; Albion, Makers of Naval Policy, p. 245.

3. Kinkaid to Bristol, March, 1930, Private Correspondence, Bristol Papers, LC.

4. Register of the Commissioned Officers, 1930.

5. Civilian personnel who worked for the Board were: Jarvis Butler, clerk; Anne. W. Worrali, Leonard D. Brown, Irman C. Nyquist, all typists and office assistants; Douglas Campbell, messenger. Memorandum, "Personnel of the General Board," 23 March, 1930, unsigned. Official Papers, Bristol Papers, LC.

6. Kimmel, Federal Budget and Fiscal Policy, p. 240. U.S. Government receipts for the years of Hoover's Presidency were as follows (figures are in billions of dollars): 1929: $4.033; 1930: $4.177; 1931: $3.190; 1932: "$2.006; 1933: $2.80; 1934: $3.116, U.S. Bureau of the Census, The Statistical History of the United States From Colonial Times to the Present (Stamford: Fairfield Publishers, Inc., 1965, p. 712.

7. Wilson, "Herbert Hoover," p. 62.

8. Acting SECNAV to Bureau and Offices, 15 February, 1930, RGB, RG 80, NA.

9. Wheeler, Pratt, p. 298.

10. Craig L. Symonds, "William Veazie Pratt," in Love, The Chiefs of Naval Operations, p. 77.

11. General Board Report, No. 1473, Serial No. 420-2, 16 October, 1930, RGB, RG 80, NA.

12. Ibid.


13. Ibid.

14. Ibid.

15. Wilson, "Herbert Hoover," p. 55.

16. All of these ships had been previously authorized by Congress during the years prior to Hoover's inauguration.

17. Rappaport, Navy League, p. 136.

18. General Board Report, No. 1473, Serial No. 420-2.

19. Ibid.

20. Ibid.

21. U.S. Congress, House, Naval Sub-Committee of the Committee on Appropriations, "Hearings on the Naval Appropriation Bill for 1932," (Washington, D.C.: USGPO, 1931), p. 123.

22. Symonds, "Pratt," p. 79.

23. Ibid., p. 60.

24. Memorandum, from Director, Naval War Plans Division, Frank Schofield to the Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Charles F. Hughes, 27 March, 1929, Presidential Papers, OF 18m-Navy, HKPL.

25. Ibid.

26. Ibid.

27. Annual Report of the Secretary of the Navy, 1931 (Washington, D.C.: USGPO, 1932), p. 23.

28. Ibid., p. 18.

29. Ibid.

30. Annual Report of the Secretary of the Navy, 1929. p. 13.

31. Wheeler, Pratt, p. 238.

32. Annual Report of the Secretary of the Navy, 1932. pp. 20-22, 30.


33. Register of the Commissioned Officers, 1932.

34. HGB, "Preparation for Disarmament Conference, 1932," 7 July, 1931, pp. 401-440; Gerald E. Wheeler, "Charles Francis Adams," in Paolo E. Coletta, ed.. The Secretaries of the Navy, vol. II (Annapolis: NIP, 1983), p. 641.

35. Ibid.

36. New York Times, June 19, 1931, 6:1; June 20, 1931, 10:1.

37. Bristol to George A. Plimpton, 29 December, 1931, Private Correspondence, Bristol Papers, LC.

38. HGB, "Reduction in Displacement of Capital Ships," 31 March, 1931, p. 47.

39. Ibid., p. 49.

40. Ibid., p. 50.

41. Ibid., pp. 58-59.

42. See Chapter IV, pp. 79-84.

43. SECNAV Adams to Adm. McVay, 27 March, 1931, Official Correspondence, Bristol Papers, LC.

44. HGB, "Draft Convention for Disarmament Conference, Budgetary Expenditure," 30 September, 1931, p. 686.

45. Stephen E. Pelz, Race to Pearl Harbor (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1974), pp. 30-32.

46. Blair, Silent Victory, pp. 52-53; RADM Edwin T. Layton, with Captain Roger Pineau, and John Costello, And I Was There: Pearl Harbor and Midway--Breaking the Secrets (New York: William Morrow and Co., 1985), p. 29.

47. Layton, Ibid.; The Black Chamber refers to the United States' first permanent code-breaking organization. It was headed by Herbert O. Yardley, financed by the Army and the State Department, and was located in New York City. Ibid.

48. Ibid., p. 32.

49. Ibid., pp. 32-36.

50. Ibid., p. 35.


51. Ibid., pp. 36-37.

52. General Board Report, No. 438-2, Serial No. 1216, 23 January, 1932, RGB, RG 80, NA.

53. Ibid.

54. HGB, "U.S. Naval Policy," 20 April, 1931, p. 101.

55. Ibid., 1 May, 1931, p. 122; The Policy was not endorsed by the President or the State Department.

56. Symonds, "Pratt," pp. 79-80.

57. Ibid.

58. General Board Report, No. 420-2, Serial No. 1523, 20 April, 1931, RGB, RG 80, NA.

59. Ibid.

60. Ibid.

61. Bristol to A.T. Lone, 5 June, 1931, Private Correspondence, Bristol Papers, LC.

62. Ibid.

63. Memorandum, Captain C.R. Train, "Rapidan Conference," June 6-7, 1931, Presidential Papers, OF 18m-Navy, HHPL.

64. Ibid.

65. General Board Report, No. 420-2, Serial No. 1523-B, 12 November, 1931, RGB, RG 80, NA.

66. Ibid.

67. New York Times, September 29, 1931, 1:1.

68. General Board Report, No. 420-2, Serial No. 1568, 13 April, 1932, RGB, RG 80, NA.

69. Hoover, Memoirs, pp. 367-368; Wilson, "Herbert Hoover," pp. 72, 164-167.

70. See Michael D. Reagan, "The Far Eastern Crisis of 1931-32, Stimson, Hoover, and the Armed Forces, in Harold Stein, ed., American Civil-Military Decisions: A Book of Case Studies (Birmingham: University of Alabama Press,


1963), pp 30-42.

71. Symonds, "Pratt," pp. 81-32.

72. Pratt to Adams, 6 August, 1931, Secret and Confidential File, RG 38, NA; General Board Report, No. 420, Serial No. 1552, RGB, RG 80, NA; Wheeler, Pratt, p. 342.

73. Rappaport, Navy League. pp. 144-145.

74. Ibid.; Hammond was a mining engineer and another friend of Hoover's, all of the members of the committee except for Rodman and Castle were members of the Navy League.

75. J.E. Hoover, in a letter to Lawrence Richley, stated that his investigation proved that Gardiner was related to Admiral A.T. Mahan and "dined frequently" with Admiral H.P. Jones. J.E. Hoover forwarded a list of all active duty naval officers who belonged to the Navy League and also included a list of the directors of the League along with a detailed bibliography for each. 10 November, 1931, Presidential Papers, OF 18m-Navy, HHPL; Rappaport, Ibid.

76. HGB, "Selection," 15-16 December, 1931; 12 December, 1932; Wheeler, Pratt, pp. 336-337.

77. Ibid.

78. Ibid..

79. New York Times, January 23, 1932, 1:1; Symonds, "Pratt,", pp. 336-337.

80. Register of the Commissioned Officers, 1932.

81. HGB, "Recommendation of Changes in U.S. Navy Regulations, 1920," 30 June, 1931; Bristol to Long, 5 April, 1932, Private Correspondence, Bristol Papers, LC.

82. HGB, Ibid., p. 361.

83. Bristol to Long, 5 April, 1932.

84. RADM Laning to Bristol, 30 April, 1931, Official Correspondence, Bristol Papers, LC; Symonds, "Pratt," pp. 76-77.

85. Ibid.


86. As quoted in Wilson, "Herbert Hoover," p. 195.

87. Myers, State Papers, II, pp. 211-213; Wilson, Herbert Hoover," p. 196.

88. Ibid., p. 197.

89. Hoover, Memoirs, p.' 356.

90. As quoted in a telegram from Ambassador C.G. Dawes o Secretary Stimson, 24 August, 1929, copy enclosed in General Board Report on London Naval Conference, No. 438-1, Serial No. 1444-A, 11 September, 1929, RGB, RG 80, NA.

91. Annual Report of the Secretary of the Navy, 1932, p. 23-24.



The two and a half years of Hoover's Presidency that followed the London Conference, were to be crucial to the development of the U.S. Fleet. Two international treaties regulated the design and number of warships that made up the fleets of Japan, Great Britain, and the U.S., fleets that otherwise may have taken on different shapes had any of those nations not signed the treaties. The General Board worked to design new ships and implement new technologies in light of the treaties, against an unwilling Chief Executive, and in the face of continued economic difficulties caused by the Depression. The decisions made by the General Board during this time ultimately affected the size and characteristics of the fleet stationed at Pearl Harbor in 1941. This chapter will examine the Board's hearings and recommendations that concerned ship design and development during the. Hoover Administration with a view to emphasizing the extent to which the Board's proposals anticipated the types of future battles.

During the months following the 1930 London Conference, as the budgets of all of the departments of the government were being cut, the Board, almost blindly,


continued to develop plans for warships in the hope of one day receiving the green light for new construction. The Board did not let budgetary restraints affect warship development and continued its work as it always had prior to 1929. In designing vessels and deciding which characteristics would be most effective in a future conflict, the Board studied examples of naval battles from World War I. Surprisingly, in this regard, the Board never discussed the U-boat's campaign against Allied shipping. Instead it looked to the battles of the Falkland Islands, Dogger Bank, and Jutland for experiences and circumstances on which to base new warship design. The Board members believed that the battles of a future war would resemble these World War I battles, and prepared warship designs accordingly.

Recommendations for U.S. ship design followed a standard pattern. The Bureau of Construction and Repair submitted preliminary blueprints of proposed vessels after the Board circulated a "brown paper" that listed general characteristics of the vessel in question to all of the Navy bureaus. Each bureau, fleet officers, and any civilian contractors with information that concerned the vessel attended the hearings and submitted information. The Board would add specifications based on information acquired luring the hearings and then asked Construction and Repair to modify the blueprints accordingly.

Bristol gave any person who attended the Board's


hearings a chance to voice an opinion. This was usually important in the development of emerging technologies where the Board members had little experience, such as naval aviation. Bristol pointed out to the aviation officers present during a hearing on the Lexington and Saratoga that there "will be new ideas concerning aircraft carriers." He asked that, those present to not "hesitate to open up and give us the benefit of any ideas you have. Remember, put yourselves in our places and try to give us every bit of information you can."1

Hearings frequently saw efforts .to bring about a proper balance between higher speed, heavier armament, and improved defensive qualities. Such efforts applied equally to any ship design, and usually resulted in a compromise between the advocates of the three characteristics. The Board proved to be an effective forum for warship design because it gave the various advocates a chance to voice their concerns and have a hand in the final design of each vessel.

All of the vessels designed during this time were designed to fight a conflict in the Pacific. The Board never made any reference to the powerful German pocket battleship laid down in 1929 or the German cruisers launched in 1929 and 1930. In fact, the Board never made any mention of the German Navy in any of its hearings. The primary concern of the Board at this time was the Imperial


Japanese Navy. The vessels designed by the Board reflected this concern in that each vessel had a cruising radius of over 10,000 nautical miles.

During Hoover's Administration, the Board did not hold any hearings on the design of battleships other than those mentioned previously. The main thrust of the Board's hearings on capital ship development centered on the design of aircraft carriers, despite the fact that each Board member, the CNO, and the SECNAV still considered the carrier as an adjunct to the battle fleet. Even General Billy Mitchell's bombing attack on the ex-German battleship Ostfriesland and his claims that aircraft now made such warships obsolete did not chance the Board's opinion that the battleship was the cornerstone of the U.S. battle fleet. That is not to say that the Board did not value the carrier. On the contrary, the Board believed that carriers were a necessary addition to the fleet, but only in a scouting role. There were officers, most notably RADM Moffett, who believed that he carrier was more than just another scouting vessel, but they did not sit on the Board.

Prior to 1927, carrier based attack aircraft consisted of slow, cumbersome bombers and torpedo planes that had a poor attack record during experiments conducted against a moving, heavily armed and armored warship. Such aircraft required large carriers like the Lexington and the Saratoga to carry them. These carriers had been expensive to build


and were costly to maintain, and took up more than half of the allotted carrier tonnage permitted under the treaties. Highly compartmentalized and armored battleships were still the queens of the fleet, and each member of the Board believed the battleship was invulnerable to aircraft attack. Therefore the Board hesitated to recommend any further carriers after the Navy began construction on the Saratoga and the Lexington.

Such concerns led to an intense controversy within the Board over how to allocate the remaining 69,000 tons of unconstructed carrier tonnage allotted by the treaty. The Board members wanted carriers only as support craft for the fleet, primarily as scouts for the battle line. They advocated a fast, heavily armed and armored vessel capable of supporting the cruisers and destroyers with eight-inch guns, leaving its aircraft for scouting purposes only.2

Aviation advocates, such as RADM Moffett, saw the carrier "as an attack platform for strike aircraft capable of attacking an enemy battle fleet before any battleships engaged. Moffett therefore wanted as many "flying decks" as he could get, even if it meant designing a lighter carrier that sacrificed its defensive armament and armor plating.

The development of a dual purpose aircraft, the fighter/dive bomber, changed the nature of the debate on carrier design. Light carriers became acceptable to the


Bureau of Aeronautics, the Bureau of Ordnance, and the Board in 1927, due to the development of the dive-bomb attack by a Curtiss F8-C, originally designed as a fighter aircraft. The compact, dual purpose aircraft allowed a small aircraft carrier with a squadron of the F8-C to pack a considerable punch. Experimental dive bombing attacks had a 67 percent scoring rate over the 30 percent rate for horizontal bombers. The dive bombing attack also afforded a lesser chance of the attacking aircraft being hit by anti-aircraft fire due to the smaller silhouette provided by a small divine aircraft.3 These small aircraft would allow the construction of a greater number of aircraft carriers out of the alloted 69,000 tons left to the U.S., because a smaller carrier would be able to carry a large number of the F8-C.

Concerning the division of the allotted tonnage during hearings in 1930, the Bureau of Aeronautics under RADM Moffett, recommended as many carriers as possible, with each ship weighing 13,800 tons. The Board, however, advocated carriers with a minimum displacement of 20,000 tons each. The larger tonnage was not to provide room for more aircraft, but instead for heavier deck guns, more armor plating and compartmentation to make a vulnerable vessel less vulnerable. Moffett argued that the performance of the F8-C aircraft and the increased dive-bombing capabilities of newer, small aircraft made lighter carriers


feasible. With such arguments, he convinced the Board to recommend one 13,800 carrier for the building program for fiscal 1932.3

The Board, taking a conservative approach to the problem of carrier development, chose to hold the remaining tonnage in limbo until testing on the 13,800 ton ship could be completed. The Board also preferred to wait until designs could be finalized on 15,200 ton, 18,400 ton, and 20,000 ton vessels. It planned to then compare the designs of all three and the performance of the light carrier in order to determine which design would be utilized to fill the remaining allotted tonnage.

The Board designated the 13,800 ton carrier the CV-4 and the Navy christened it the Ranger. The final design for the CV-4 approved by the Board called for a flush deck, that is, no island protruding above the flight deck, hinged smokestacks, a maximum speed of 29.2 knots, and eight five-inch anti-aircraft batteries. The CV-4 was essentially a compromise between the designs of the General Board and the Bureau of Aeronautics. The Board insisted on five-inch guns and suitable armor plating but withdrew the requirement for heavier defensive guns, thereby satisfying the Bureau of Aeronautic's request that the carriers be allowed to carry a larger aircraft complement. The final aircraft complement consisted of 36 fighters, 36 bombers and 4 utility aircraft.6


The next hearings were a continuation of the characteristics of the 10,000 ton "treaty cruisers," including a unique hybrid called the "flying deck cruiser," a 10,000 ton cruiser with a landing platform aft of two triple six-inch gun turrets. By the terms of the London Treaty, up to twenty-five percent of the total, tonnage quota in the cruiser category of a signatory power could be fitted with landing decks for aircraft. Therefore the U.S. could build up to eight such vessels under the terms of the Treaty.7

RADM Moffett was the most enthusiastic supporter of this hybrid, and he recommended that the U.S. build eight such vessels, while Pratt argued for constructing "only one that would be tested extensively before any more were built. Bristol agreed with Pratt in advocating a "big experiment," and in a letter to A.T. Long stated that:

... there is a good deal of support for this type and of course the only way is to build one and see what you can do with her. Personally I think we are in a situation where the tail is wagging the dog and aircraft is the tail. However, such things always occur and the romance of the air appeals strongly to the masses.8

The Board did not reach a definite decision regarding the flying deck cruiser in 1930, but Bristol instructed RADM G. Rock to prepare preliminary drawings of such a vessel with a flight deck that would accommodate twenty-five aircraft and mount nine six-inch guns.9

During six hearings held throughout 1931 and all attended by Admiral Pratt, the Board continued to develop


plans for aircraft carrier and flying deck cruiser designs At the final meeting on carrier design in November, 1931, the Board decided how to allocate the remaining tonnage allotted to the U.S. by the treaties. However, the likelihood of obtaining the required authorization and appropriation to begin construction was in doubt.

By 1931, naval aviators had had enough experience with the 3 3,000 ton Saratoga and Lexington to realize that the Ranger, at only 13,800 tons, would, be too small to act as fleet carrier. The Bureau of Aeronautics now realized that its speed would be only 29 knots, in part due to her unique hinged stacks. In order to vent the smoke developed at speeds of over 30 knots, the ship would require a large stack that would rise above the flight deck.

The War Plans Division, based upon war games conducted at the Naval War College and practical experience with the Langley, Lexington, and Saratoga, submitted a memorandum to the Board which recommended that any new carriers built should have a minimum speed of 32.5 knots. War Plans believed a carrier's "ability to escape damage lies in evasion."10 A more practical consideration was that the carrier would have to keep up with its most probable escort, the heavy cruiser, a warship that had a speed of 3_ knots.11

Admiral Pratt related the practical reasons for the speed requirement. The eight-inch gun cruisers, in


conjunction with the carriers, formed the advance scouting units for the battle line. Carriers must then have the same speed as their escorting cruisers. Pratt also noted that as his office planned on organizing three heavy-cruiser divisions, the Board should consider building three -new carriers, one for each cruiser division. He also added that "whatever we build in the shape of three [carriers] should have the speed of 32.5 knots."12

Carriers capable of operating at such a high speed required space for additional boiler capacity, thereby adding more weight to the vessels displacement. This factor in turn would mean that weight would have to be taken off some other pare of the ship or one or more characteristics dropped or modified to allow the carrier to meet the required displacement figure. The easiest characteristics to reduce or remove to save weight were armor protection, secondary armament, or the aircraft complement.

The author of the above memorandum, RADM E.C. Kalbfus, the Director of the Naval War Plans Division of the Office of the CNO, attended the hearings. He believed other escort vessels, including an anti-submarine destroyer screen and a number of heavy cruisers would give the carrier the protection it needed. He also noted that with such protection, the carriers could do without large secondary batteries and armor plating, saving weight that


could go towards added boiler space and an increased aircraft complement. Otherwise, he concluded, "if we go to protective measures to the extent that we can conceive as necessary under a variety of conditions I don't think we would have much left on the tonnage."13

Captain Greenslade, in charge of preparing the final recommendation paper concerning carriers, outlined the Board's concern over the carrier's armor and compartmentation protection. He noted that the most important protection was that against shell and torpedo damage. He concluded that the Board wanted "a carrier with power of survival.14

The aviators, by contrast, were willing to forfeit armor protection, secondary batteries, and added compartmentation in order to have a large aircraft complement and high speed. Siding with Kalbfus, they believed that the carrier's escorts or its own aircraft would be able to deal with any threating enemy ships. As Kalbfus put it: "Once we get started in the protection idea there is no limit to the extent we can go and I prefer to rest with the speed and the protection of other ships."15 The Board members took the opposite view and were willing to sacrifice the number of aircraft a carrier would carry in favor of increased compartmentalization, armor, and armament.

The Bureau of Ordnance concurred with the Board, and the chief of the bureau. Captain W.W. Smyth, stated that


"we don't like the idea of a man of war with no power of survival."16 He noted that the British battle cruisers of World War I were lightly armored because the British believed that "speed was an ample defense."17 He added that "I don't think that we ought to make that mistake" in relation to the U.S. carriers. He concluded by noting that "it seems to me that the ship should be made as-capable as it is humanly possible of surviving some damage from somebody. 18

RADM Moffett disagreed and took care to remind the Board that the carrier was not a "gun ship:"

She is primarily an aircraft carrier and that is her mission. Nothing should be allowed to interfere with that. You wane to get more planes. If Z found that putting on torpedo protection would vitally reduce the number of planes, I would go without it.19

Within the tonnage limitation set by the treaties, a compromise between the demands of the Board and those of the aviators had to be reached. Neither could get all of the requirements they desired. If one characteristic was emphasized, another had to be sacrificed in order to keep the total ship tonnage in line with the treaty requirements . The argument boiled down to who would give in to whom.

Admiral Pratt, who believed that three carriers were necessary in order to match the planned three heavy cruiser divisions, proposed two carriers of 20,000 tons each and one Ranger class vessel. The 20,000 ton vessels had


suitable compartmentation that afforded some protection against bomb and torpedo, attack, and an aircraft comparable to that of the Lexington and Saratoga. 20

The aircraft proponents, including RADM's Moffett and Yarnell, Captain J.H. Towers, and Commander R.K. Turner, all favored dividing the remaining tonnage up in five 13,800 ton aircraft carriers. With the addition of six or seven flying deck cruisers, their carrier plan would give the Navy a large number of flight decks. Yet the Board favored Pratt's plan, which would fill the remaining allotted tonnage, have the requisite speed and the heavier carriers would have suitable compartmentation. The naval aviators, perhaps sensing that it was Pratt's plan or nothing, agreed as well. 21

As for armor protection, the larger ships would have a four inch belt that would protect the ship from six-inch fire. There was discussion about an armored flight deck, but the Board dropped this idea because such a deck would drastically increase the displacement of the carrier and make it top heavy.22 In the end, the Board recommended that the U.S. build two 19,900 ton carriers, the CV-5 and CV-6, and one 13,400 ton carrier, the CV-7, later christened the Yorktown, Enterprise, and Wasp, respectively. 23

Due to the efforts of Admiral Pratt and the Board's demands that at least two of the ships have suitable armor protection and compartmentation, coupled with the speed


requirement of 32.5 knots, the arrangement was the only one that would give the fleet three suitable carriers acceptable to all concerned and still stay under treaty limits. Here the effectiveness of the Board is clearly demonstrated. It allowed all of the bureaus concerned, namely the Bureau of Ordnance, Construction, and Aeronautics, to voice their opinions. The officers present could also hear opposing views of the various factions and -interests concerned with the fleet. As a consequence, the Board was in a unique position to base its recommendation on the consensus and compromise achieved by those officers directly involved in aircraft carrier production and development.

In 1931 the Bureau of Construction and Repair presented a plan for the flying deck cruiser to the Board. The blueprint showed a narrow-hulled 10,000 ton vessel, capable of 32 knots, with a 10,000 nautical mile range, mounting nine six-inch guns and a 350 foot angled flight deck with hanger space for twenty-four aircraft.24 Following such interest, the Board shelved the blueprints in 1932 after Hoover declared a moratorium on naval construction. By the time Franklin D. Roosevelt took office and authorized more naval construction under the National Recovery Act, regular carriers were then built; the need for standard cruisers was greater than for any untested hybrids. Also, the crash of the airship Akron on April 4, 1933, killed RADM Moffett, permanently silencing the most outspoken proponent of the


hybrid cruiser. Without his encouragement, it seems, this hybrid was soon forgotten.25

The most serious deficiency with the U.S. Fleet, according to the Board, was the lack of cruisers. One of the primary concerns of the Board, then, was the design of the cruisers needed to make up the deficiency. The first hearings on the six-inch and eight-inch gun cruisers began in July, 1930. The Bureau of Construction and Repair drew up preliminary plans for a new six-inch gun cruiser, based upon the design of the older Omaha class warships. Construction and Repair based the plans of the eight-inch gun cruisers on plans of the newly launched Pensacola and Northampton class cruisers. All of the early hearings on these vessels were concerned with, surprisingly enough, the installation of suitable anti-aircraft batteries, the only major naval power to be so concerned at this time.

Since 1928 the Board had begun to note the possible damage aircraft could inflict on all warships. During all subsequent hearings on ship defense against aircraft attack, the Board's efforts were directed at obtaining suitable anti-aircraft batteries powerful enough to shoot down attacking aircraft and not interfere with the ships main batteries. 26 The Bureau of Ordnance tested single mounted machine guns, of .30 and .50 caliber, but the Board members noted with dismay that there was no method of realistically testing the weapons against moving aircraft.


The Board members noted that Marine Corp aircraft on service in Nicaragua sustained hits from surface fired weapons but unless the small bullets of a .30 caliber gun struck a fuel line, the bullet did little more than make "small holes in the skin" of the aircraft. They concluded that multiple mounted .50 caliber or one inch guns seemed to show promise as the most effective anti-aircraft weapons. They delayed any final decision on the problem because the Navy possessed few such batteries, and the gun's size would require changes in the designs of the vessels involved. Changes meant a delay in a ship's construction and launching, something the members would not permit at present. They therefore took no definite action beyond suggesting that Ordnance continue testing multiple mounted .50 caliber and one inch guns for use on all U.S. warships. As a stop gap measure, the Board recommended that all cruisers be fitted with single mounted .50 caliber machine guns.27

The hearings on the six-inch gun light cruisers without flying decks saw Pratt advocate a diversified approach to cruiser construction. He urged the Board to consider a 10,300 ton, eight-inch cruiser, a 10,000 ton, six-inch gun cruiser, and a smaller six-inch gun cruiser of approximately 7000 tons displacement, similar to the existing Omaha's except the new design would mount three guns per turret over the two guns per turret on the


Omaha's. Pratt wanted the 7000 ton vessels designed for anti-destroyer work with the battle fleet.

Despite Pratt's suggestions, Bristol and the Board had no real interest in anything but the 10,000 ton, eight-inch gun cruiser that became the design for the Portland and New Orleans class cruisers. The Board's hearing on the heavy cruiser centered upon the placement of the cruiser's armor, its secondary five-inch anti-destroyer batteries, aircraft catapults, and torpedo batteries. The Board made no mention of any hull design or machinery changes except for the removal of the "bulbous bow" that was thought to cause pounding in a heavy cruiser. Otherwise, the Board believed that the design of the Northampton class, agreed to in 1926, was satisfactory.

During the 1930 hearings, the Board decided to drop the cruiser's torpedo batteries. The Board based this decision on the lack of battle experience with cruiser launched torpedoes. More importantly, the Board wanted to save weight in order to add more five-inch guns, a greater aircraft complement, more and heavier armor plating, and added boiler space. The Navy therefore removed the torpedo batteries on all U.S. heavy cruisers.28 The Japanese, however, did not adopt a follow a similar practice, much to the regret of sailors on board U.S. cruisers during the Solomon Islands campaign during World War II.

The Board members did not know that the Japanese


placed great faith in their torpedoes and used them as they would a heavy gun. The Board also did not realize that torpedoes were mandatory on every Japanese destroyer and cruiser, as the torpedo was one of weapons the Japanese had used with great success during the naval battles against China and Russia at the turn of the twentieth century. The ONI reports on the Imperial Japanese Navy were woefully short on hard facts for the simple reason that the Japanese did not allow any official from any government to visit any warship or naval base. Security was tight around the' Imperial Japanese Navy.

The Japanese Naval High Command adopted the battle fleet concept of Admiral Mahan and put great faith on the capital ship, as did the General Board. But, Japanese defensive naval tactics against the U.S. fleet called for preliminary torpedo attacks by submarines, cruisers, and destroyers at the U.S. battle line as it sortied from Pearl Harbor. The Japanese hoped that these preliminary torpedo attacks would whittle down the U.S. fleet to the size of the Japanese fleet by the time the U.S. battleships reached the Philippine Islands. The Japanese fleet would then sortie out to meet the U.S. fleet and fight the classic Jutland type battle.29

To succeed in torpedo attacks on the U.S. fleet, the Japanese realized that they required torpedoes with such tremendous range and speed that the launching ships could


stay out of range of the large caliber U.S. guns. They also reasoned that such attacks should come at night so as to afford the greatest chance of survival to the attacking cruisers and destroyers. Unlike the U.S. Navy, the Japanese began the development of a compressed air and kerosene driven long-range torpedo and practiced night fighting techniques.30

The U.S. Navy did not give a high priority to torpedo development in part due to expense, as it was a major offense to lose a live torpedo, lack of funds, and the inefficiency of the Bureau of Ordnance and the torpedo factory at Newport, Rhode Island. The Navy, and the Board in particular, emphasized gun development.31 Also, the design of U.S. cruisers did not permit them to carry out the functions of the Japanese cruisers. As designed, the U.S. cruisers supported U.S. destroyers, oppose enemy destroyers, act as scouts, commerce raiders, and as convoy escorts. Each of these functions required speed, a large primary battery to match a potential commerce raider, a heavy secondary armament to fight destroyers, and space for scouting aircraft.32 Because the Board deemed torpedo batteries unnecessary on U.S. cruisers, the Board recommended that they be dropped, and War Plans concurred.

In order to save additional weight on the Portland and New Orleans class cruisers, the Board gave them only light armor, sufficient to protect the ship against five-inch


gunfire. As the Board required that each ship carry enough fuel oil to allow it to cruise at least 10,000 nautical miles, four aircraft, the required catapults, and a large number of secondary batteries, such a sacrifice had to be made in order to keep the cruiser's displacement under 10,000 tons. RADM G.H. Rock, of the Bureau of Construction and Repair, voiced his concern over the lack of armor protection for the cruisers. But, the Board wanted the largest size and number of guns possible, even if such additions lessened the cruiser's armor. The Board also believed that no vessel short of another eight-inch gun cruiser or a battleship could get within range of its main armament. If an enemy vessel did get within range, the Board believed that the combination of the U.S. cruiser's eight-inch and five-inch guns would destroy it.33

The Board held one hearing on the 10,000 ton, six-inch gun cruiser curing 1930, and there established the basic characteristics for what was to become the Brooklyn class cruiser. The Board instructed RADM Rock to prepare preliminary drawings on such a vessel. It would displace 10,000 tons, carry an armament of twelve six-inch guns mounted in four turrets, have four aircraft, as well as a minimum cruising radius of 10,000 nautical miles.34

Reports prepared by the commanding officers of the newly launched 10,000 ton, eight-inch gun cruisers Pensacola, Salt Lake City, and Chester, began to be


forwarded to the Board by SECNAV Adams during 1931. The Commander in Chief of the U.S. Fleet noted:

I was greatly disappointed to find that our 8" cruisers have such acrobatic characteristics that they could not launch their planes and recover them at sea. This fact took away from them their very great advantage of long range fire. . .As scouts they lost the advantage of extending the field of their observation by the use of their planes.35

The problem with the "rolling" characteristics of these cruisers was serious. If the heavy cruisers could not launch their aircraft, the long range of their eight-inch batteries lost its effectiveness, as only aircraft could spot their fire at maximum range.

The Board then scheduled a hearing to review and evaluate these reports in order to determine if any changes should be made in the design of those cruisers not yet built. All of the commanding officers of the existing heavy cruisers complained of the lack of ammunition space, advocated permanently installed anti-aircraft guns, preferably of the five-inch design, and reduction in the vibrations in the engine room. They also recommended the use of rustless metal [brass or copper] for all fresh water systems, the installation of sturdier steering gear, improved aircraft handling gear, increased bridge protection against spray, wind, and shellburst, and the installation of "adequate armor protection, both vertical and horizontal," in addition to the problem mentioned by Admiral Schofield. 36 The Board remanded the reports to the Bureau of


Construction and Repair in order to incorporate the commanding officer's recommendations on the heavy cruiser blueprints, add bilge-keels to reduce the rolling effect, test the new design changes and then report back to the Board.37

During 1930 and 1931, the Board held hearings on new destroyer designs. As the majority of "the U.S. destroyers were nearing obsolescence, the Board wanted to design a modern vessel capable of supporting the U.S. battleships. Pratt was present during the hearings held in November on the design of the destroyers and the destroyer leader proposed in the Board's recommended 1931-32 building programs. The main points covered were the differences in the design of the destroyer and the destroyer leader and the placement of their torpedo batteries.38 There were no questions regarding depth charge requirements or any anti-submarine capabilities for that matter. These destroyers were designed to act as scouts ahead of the fleet and to provide flank protection of the U.S. battle line. The U.S. destroyers were also designed to fulfill a function not unlike that of the Japanese destroyers. The U.S. destroyers were to attack the enemy battle line in concert with their torpedo batteries. Such an attack, the Board believed, would disrupt and confuse the enemy before the U.S. battle line closed to engage. The addition of depth charge racks was perceived by the Board to be a minor


problem and one that could be easily dealt with should a conflict requiring anti-submarine capabilities break out.39

Admiral Pratt, concerned that none of the officers considered other roles the destroyers might have to fill, told the Board:

You have many convoys to take across the ocean. You would probably not encounter their enemy battle line in a-first engagement. Months would go by in which destroyers would be doing everything except going into that final deployment. . . You would find them combatting the submarine all the way across the ocean. You would find them having to be in the screen beating off determined attacks on our convoys and in those situations the torpedo would do you very little good but a large delivery of gunfire would do you a great deal of good.

The Board took little notice of Pratt's views for two reasons, and the questioning quickly shifted back to torpedo placement. First, the Board "members did not appreciate Pratt's support of the Hoover Administration and as such did not want to appear sympathetic to Pratt's views. Second, the members believed that, as designed, the destroyers were not to provide convoy protection but were to work with the fleet as a screen and also to attack the enemy battle line with their torpedoes. The addition of depth charge racks was not difficult and did not adversely affect the ships performance, as would the addition of large weapons such as torpedo launchers or larger guns.

The Board recommended placing the torpedo batteries o: the centerline amidships as opposed to placing them on


either side. The centerline placement would not affect the destroyer's stability and provided a greater arc of fire for the torpedo batteries. Pratt did not utter another word. Bristol closed the hearing with the perfunctory "we thank you gentlemen for coming down and giving us a hand."41

As to the general development of the submarine since 1916, the Board favored two classes of submarines, a small coastal vessel (S class) of 800 tons and a fleet submarine (V class) of up to 2500 tons. The Board designed the smaller sub to patrol coastal areas, the Panama Canal, and other U.S. possessions.42 The fleet submarine, on the other hand, was to accompany the battle fleet, report enemy movements, and attack the enemy battle fleet. Such a vessel would require a long cruising range and a high surface speed to keep pace with the fleet.

Man of the new concepts in U.S. submarine development came from the Submarine Officers' Conference (SOC). The SOC consisted of a group of four or five submarine officers chosen by the CNO and met regularly to discuss submarine design and operations. They then reported their recommendations to the CNO. Through their efforts, combined with the War Plans Division of the Office of the CNO, they developed the functions for the U.S. submarines. Along with the Bureau of Construction, these naval officers worked with the General Board during the submarine design hearings and recommendations. 43


The Board based the design of all of the submarines built under the 1916 Naval Authorization on WWI German designs. Most of these submarines were of the smaller S class because the Navy had yet to develop a reliable diesel engine capable of propelling a submarine at sufficient speeds to allow it to keep pace with the battle fleet. But in 1926 the Navy commissioned and tested three V class fleet subs extensively. These tests proved that the current V class design was incapable of keeping pace with the surface fleet because they dived slowly, their diesel engines proved to be unreliable, and they leaked fuel oil.44

The submarine proponents, including Captains Thomas Kart and Charles A. Lockwood, recommended that the Board design an even larger boat, one that would accommodate larger diesel engines, and the Board concurred. The Board approved the design of three large subs, each displacing 2700 tons: V-4 (Argonaut), V-5 (Narwhal), V-6 (Nautilus). The Board recommended that the Navy obtain a license to build M.A.N. German diesel engines in the hope of obtaining a powerful and reliable engine for the three submarines. The Bureau of Engineering obtained a license and constructed the engines at the New York Navy Yard. But, once installed in the subs, these engines proved to be as troublesome as the engines in the V1-V3 and did not provide sufficient power to enable the subs to reach the desired speed of 18 knots. After this failure, the Board


recommended that the fleet sub concept be abandoned. Admiral Pratt, interviewed by the Board while he was the Commander in Chief of the U.S. Fleet, agreed with the Board. 46

Undaunted, the submarine officers developed a new mission for the larger boat: place the submarines out ahead of the battle line as long range scouts in order to gather intelligence for the fleet. Such a role was in line with Mahan's prediction that the function of the submarine would become one primarily of "scouting and lookout."47 As a long range scout, the submarine would require a large fuel storage space and torpedo battery, and roomy living conditions for the crew who might be at sea for up to two and one-half months at a time. 48 The concept began to take shape of the long range attack sub acting independently of the fleet and deep in enemy waters.

In light of the fact that the U.S. Navy perceived that Japan, an island nation, was the most likely U.S. opponent in a future war, it is surprising that the that the Board did not design the U.S. submarines for commerce warfare.49 The officers who attended the hearings made no mention, of any role for the submarine except that of supporting the fleet. Although convinced that the submarine was a necessary addition to the fleet, the Board members saw the fleet sub only as a scout and screen for the battle line and possibly as a weapon of intimidation. RADM Bristol asked: "Do you consider that a fleet with submarines would


make a possible enemy more careful in approaching the formation than if he had none?" RADM Upham stated "unquestionably, " and the Board members concurred unanimously.50 These officers, along with their British and Japanese counterparts, saw the submarine as a warship killer, not a commerce raider.

The submarine warfare restriction articles of the London Naval Treaty supported the conception mentioned above. Public support of these articles and the thought o killing civilians made such warfare unthinkable, or at least something that was not advocated or spoken of publicly. There is no record that the Board considered using U.S. submarines against merchant shipping. 51 Yet it did develop the long range, well armed attack submarine capable of patrols deep in enemy waters as a scout or warship killer.

In early 1929, the Board approved plans for the V-7 (Dolphin) after withdrawing the requirement that the V-7 have a high enough surface speed to operate directly with the battle fleet as a scout. These plans emphasized habitability, reliability, and a heavy torpedo battery, but as there was no reliable diesel yet developed in the U.S., the Board again opted for the M.A.N. diesels manufactured under license in the U.S. The Dolphin had electric motors as well that could be operated in conjunction with the diesels52.


During the summer of 1930, Congress appropriated enough money to allow the Navy to begin the construction of the last two submarines authorized in 1916. The Board began hearings in July to decide on the design of these two submarines, designated the V-8 (Cacholet) and the V-9 (Cuttlefish), and also on how to best fill the remaining submarine tonnage allotted to the U.S. under the London Treaty. The Treaty held the U.S. to 52,700 tons, and the U.S. fleet had seven V class boats and eleven S class boats in commission, thereby leaving the U.S. with 29,700 tons that could be built by the end of 1936, including the V-8 and V-9 designs. The submarine officers argued for a 17½ knot, 1200 ton boat capable both of working independently and with the fleet. The President of the Naval War College, RADM Pringle, argued for a smaller submarine in order to construct the maximum number of submarines under the Treaty limits.53 The Board favored a compromise between these viewpoints. It recommended that the V-8 and the V-9 displace 1100 tons and be designed by combining the best characteristics of the V-7 and the German U-135 of WWI.54 The powerplant consisted of a combination or the M.A.N, diesel and electric motors.

As for the V class submarines already-commissioned or still under construction, the Director of Naval War Plans supported a new role for these submarines. He recommended, in light of the limitation on submarine construction


imposed, by the Treaty, that all U.S. submarines should be stationed "in the most strategic localities so that their maximum effort can be exerted immediately on the outbreak of war." 55

Even though all submarines designed during the Hoover Administration' proved to be unsatisfactory, the next generation of long range attack submarines designed by the Board saw service in the Pacific during World War II. Although the subs would not then be on a mission proposed by the Board at the time of their design, these submarines, without modification, proved to be effective commerce raiders. In fact, a few hours after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, the Navy Department ordered the U.S. naval air and submarine forces in the Pacific to "EXECUTE UNRESTRICTED AIR AND SUBMARINE WARFARE AGAINST JAPAN."56 Captain Allan R. McCann, the commander of Submarine Squadron Six, stated that "fortunately the fleet boat was ideally suited for this new and completely unexpected mission.57

By the time of Franklin D. Roosevelt's election as President in November, 1932, the Board, with the assistance of the Bureau of Engineering, Construction, and Aeronautics, finished recommending plans for four aircraft carriers and changed a number of characteristics of the heavy cruisers . The Board also prepared designs for a new generation of light cruisers, destroyers, and submarines.


All of these vessels saw service during World War II. But the decisive shootout between the battleship fleets of Japan and the U.S. never occurred [Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, Battle of Surigao Strait?]. Though designed for a conflict that never developed, the majority of the U.S. vessels fulfilled new combat functions admirably. The carriers would act as scouts, but primarily they would function as the primary offensive warship in the U.S. fleet. The U.S. submarines, although they sank a number of Japanese warships, became as successful as the U-3oats during both World Wars in a commerce warfare role.



1. HGB, "USS Lexington and Saratoga: Improved Bomb Handling and Torpedo Stowage and Handling," 4 December, 1931, p. 731. During this hearing, the Board decided to increase these carrier's bomb storage space and decrease their torpedo storage space because each carrier could carry more bombs, which were more "reliable and cheaper" than torpedoes. Ibid., p. 743.

2. Until the Panama Games in January, 1929, the Navy's standard operating procedure was to position any carriers sailing with the battle fleet on the disengaged flank or the battle line so as to afford the greatest possible protection to the lightly armored carriers. RADM Reeves, commanding the U.S.S Saratoga during the games in 1929, convinced the fleet commander, Admiral Pratt, to allow the Saratoga to leave the fleet and, with an accompanying destroyer screen, sail around the flank of the defending fleet during the night at full speed (32 knots) and the attack the Canal with its aircraft, and the attack was successful. However, as the focus of the Saratoga's attack was a fixed object, this attack did little to change the attitudes of the senior officers of the Navy about the efficacy of such operations against an enemy fleet. But, this attack paved the way for the later carrier strike group operations. Melhorn, Two Block Fox, pp. 113-114; See also Eugene E. Wilson, "The Navy's First Carrier Task Force," United States Naval Institute Proceedings (February, 1950), pp. 159-169.

3. Melhorn, Two Block Fox, p. 111.

4. General Board Report, No. 420-2, Serial No. 1473, 16 October, 1930, RGB, RG 80, NA.

5. HGB, "13,88 Ton Aircraft Carrier, 1929 Design (CV-4)," 18 June, 1929, pp. 136-116.

6. Ibid.; Conway's All the World's Fighting Shins, 1920-1945 (New York; Conway Maritime Press, 1980), p. 102.

7. HGB, "Characteristics of 6" Cruisers with Landing on Platforms," 4, 5, 23 December, 1930, pp. 613-700; See also Andrade, "The Flying Deck Cruiser," pp. 132-140.


8. Letter, copy, RADM Bristol to RADM A.T. Long, Ret., 27 December, 1929, Private Correspondence, Bristol Papers, LC.

9. HGB, "Characteristics of 6" Cruisers with Landing on Platforms," 23 December, 1930, pp. 696-699.

10. Memorandum, Director, Naval War Plans Division to CNO, 22 July, 1531, "Design of Future Aircraft Carriers," RGB, RG 80, NA.

11. Ibid.

12. HGB, "Design of Future Aircraft Carriers," 13 June, 1531, p. 280.

13. Ibid., 24 July, 1931, p. 551.

14. Ibid., p. 550.

15. Ibid., pp. 551-552.

16. Ibid., p. 556.

17. Ibid.

18. Ibid.

19. Ibid.

20. Ibid., p. 558.

21. Moffett probably knew that since the Board backed Pratt's plan, he sensibly gave in to their ideas, after ail, in either case he would get flight decks with the fleet.

22. Ibid., pp. 564-565; Moffett did not want the deck armor, because it would increase the ships weight, while the Board did, until Moffett reminded the Board that en the tests conducted on the Ostfriesland and the Frankfurt, bombs easily penetrated their 1¼" protective deck plating. If the Board was to increase this plating, the ship would become top heavy, so the Board went along with Moffett.

23. With the benefit of hindsight, one may argue that the Board was probably correct in arguing for more compartmentation and armor plating. First, the British did use steel decks on their carriers whereas the U.S. carriers used wood. During the kamikaze attacks in 1944-45, this


proved to be quite troublesome to the U.S. carriers. As for compartmentation, the heavier Yorktown withstood two torpedoes at the Battle of Coral Sea, survived, and then less than a month later fought at Midway where on June 5, 1942, withstood 2 torpedo hits and stayed afloat, only to be sunk the following day by two submarine launched torpedoes. However, the lighter Wasp was sunk by three torpedo hits on 15 September, 1942, during the battle for Guadalcanal. The Enterprise was the only carrier of these three to survive the war, but sustained damage throughout the Pacific campaign only to be sunk during an A-bomb test at Bikini Atoll. The Ranger served in the Atlantic-throughout World War II.

24. Andrade, "Flying Deck Cruiser," p. 137.

25. Ibid., p. 138; Wheeler, Pratt, p. 334. The Akron crash nearly took Pratt's life as well, as Moffett had stopped by Pratt's office before going to the airfield and asked Pratt if he would care to go up in the Akron, but Pratt declined. Pratt recalled that he was probably "the last person in Washington to see Moffett alive." Symonds, "Pratt," p. 76.

26. HGB, "Defense of Ships Against Dive Bombing Attacks by Aircraft," 6 February, 1929, pp. 6-23.

27. HGB, "10,000 Ton Treaty Cruisers: Improved Secondary Batteries," 7 July, 1930, pp. 238-252.

28. Ibid.; See also Wheeler, Pratt, p. 331; Samuel Eliot Morison, The Two-Ocean War (Boston: Little, Brown, 1948), pp. 12-13, 210-211.

29. Pelz, Race to Pearl Harbor, pp. 35-40; Ito, End of the Imperial Japanese Navy, pp. 14-15.

30. Ibid.; Raymond G. O'Connor, The Japanese Navy in World War Two (Annapolis: NIP, 1969), p. 61. By the end of 1933 the Japanese developed the dreaded "long lance" torpedo, that carried half a ton of explosive and could travel for 11 miles at 49 knots or well over 20 miles at 39 knots. These torpedoes, mounted in Japanese Fubuki class destroyers, Furutaka class light cruisers, and Nachi class heavy cruisers, with each ship mounting from four to nine re-loadable torpedo batteries, proved to be effective weapons. Morison, The Rising Sun in the Pacific, p. 23; Two-Ocean War, pp. 12-13, 210-211.

31. Ibid., Two-Ocean War, pp. 12-13. The Japanese


expended torpedoes "lavishly" in practice, while the U.S., due to reasons of economy, practiced with dummy torpedoes. Ibid.

32. HGB, "10,000 Ton Treaty Cruiser," 27 November, 1929, pp. 404-405.

33. HGB, "10,000 Ton Treaty Cruisers: Improved Secondary Batteries," 7 July, 1930, pp. 250-252.

34. HGB, "Characteristics of 6-inch Cruisers: No Landing on Platform," 25 November, 1930, pp. 575-611.

35. RADM Blakely to Bristol, 19 August, 1931, Official Correspondence, Bristol Papers, LC.

36. HGB, "10,000 Ton, 8-inch Cruiser," 9 June, 1931, p. 254.

37. The Navy discovered that, after the launching of these cruisers that they were well below the 10,000 ton limit and as such more deck armor was added to protect the vital areas of the ship more effectively and help stabilize the ship. These reports led to the changes in the design of the Portland class cruisers, the resultant being the New Orleans and Wichita class cruisers.

38. A destroyer leader differed from a destroyer only in that the leader had more room for a large communications center and quarters for a destroyer flotilla commander. HGB, "Characteristics of Destroyers and Destroyer Leaders," 4 November, 1930, p. 459.

39. Ibid., 24 November, 1930, pp. 565-573.

40. Ibid., p. 517.

41. Ibid., pp. 520-565.

42. The S class boats were small coastal defense submarines of 800 tons and armed with four torpedo tubes. They were incapable of oversea cruises, and in part due to this fact, the General Board and the SOC began to emphasize the larger ocean going boats. See Blair, Silent Victory, pp. 47-63.

43. Andrade, "Submarine Policy," p. 53.

44. Blair, Silent Victory, pp. 56-57.

45. Ibid., p. 57.


46. HGB, "General Characteristics of Submarines," 31 October, 1928, pp. 357-382. For Pratt's assessment of submarines, see HGB, "Testimony of Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Fleet, In Regard to Needs of the Fleet," 27 May, 1930, pp. 179-182.

47. Seager, Mahan: The Man and His Letters, p. 538.

48. Blair, Silent Victory, p. 57.

49. HGB, "Characteristics of Future Submarines," 15 July, 1930, p. 275.

50. Ibid., p. 273.

51. During a hearing in 1929, Captain Ridley McLean, the commander of the Submarine Division, Battle Fleet, stated that all deck guns on U.S. submarines should be removed because: "In view of our scheme of warfare based on the fact that we are not to attack any unarmed ships, it seems to me that there is little or no place for a gun on a submarine." HGB, "USS V1 to V5, Overweight Condition: Recommendations for Compensation," 21 November, 1929, p. 369.

52. HGB, "Characteristics of Future Submarines," 15 July, 1930, p. 273. These V class boats were propelled by two direct-drive M.A.N, diesels plus "two others driving through motor-generators, known as a composite system. Conway's, p. 142; HGB, "Cruiser Submarines," 16 July, 1929, pp. 128-151. The Board continually pressed for the development of an all electric drive system, but such a system was not put into operation until the Perch class subs laid down in 1934-1935. Ibid.; Conway's, p. 143; See also, HGB, "Characteristics of New Submarines," 26 May, 1933, p. 64.

53. Blair, Silent Victory, p. 60.

54. Ibid. Their powerplant consisted of a composite drive. The two submarines used all welded seams, not rivets as in the previous submarines, and were the first to use a Torpedo Data Computer, or TDC, to help the crew direct torpedo firings. each sub had four bow and two stern tubes, one three-inch deck gun, three .50 caliber machine guns for anti-aircraft protection. The M.A.N, diesels again proved to be unreliable, difficult to service, and too large. This is the reason that the Board continually pressed for powerplant reliability, as these subs would be operating far from any bases. The Board did not press for the same type of reliability for the torpedoes. As for the diesels, the Navy turned, to private enterprise. With the decision to


develop smaller subs, since the 1930 London Treaty restricted subs to a maximum tonnage of 2000 tons per sub. A smaller, powerful, and reliable powerplant was needed. Private firms bid on the powerplant design, as these firms realized such an engine could also power locomotives. The next subs were not laid down until after Franklin D. Roosevelt entered office, and the new generation subs were designed by three private firms: General Motors, Winton Co., Hooven-Owens-Rentschier, and Fairbanks-Morse. See Blair, Silent Victory, p. 61.

55. HGB, "Characteristics of Future Submarines, July, 1930, p. 268.

56. Blair, Silent Victory, p. 106.

57. Ibid.



The new chairman of the Executive Committee, RADM J.V. Chase, looked forward to the change in administrations, and so did many other officers. Franklin D. Roosevelt had beer. an assistant secretary of the Navy, and, so the officers hoped, might therefore be more sympathetic towards the Navy than his predecessor. The Board's recommended building program for fiscal 1934 reflected such optimism. The program, revised in September, 1932 after Hoover rejected the 1933 program, again recommenced that the U.S. build up to treaty levels before the 1936 London Conference. It called for the construction of forty-three vessels for the year, including three aircraft carriers. SECNAV Adams approved the program while at the same time he refused to give it his support without Hoover's endorsement, which was not forthcoming. The Naval Appropriation Act, passed on March 3, 1933, called for the construction of four destroyers and one cruiser, a considerable reduction of the. Board's original recommendation.1

When President Roosevelt ordered the 1934 naval appropriation slashed from the Hoover and Congressional approved figure of $307,758,610 to $260,000,000, the officers on the


Board wondered if tough times were still ahead. But the Navy's fortunes changed with the passage of the National Industrial Recovery Act. The President's New Deal advisors persuaded him that naval construction, might help generate an economic resurgence. The advisors were also careful to note that up to seventy percent of the cost to construct a warship went into construction workers wages. Under the Industrial Recovery Act, construction began on two aircraft carriers, four light cruisers, twenty destroyers, four submarines, and two gunboats, all built according to plans laid out by the Board.2

By the time Hoover left office in March, 1933, the Navy was barely at sixty-five percent of the allowed treaty strength. Hoover's Administration was the only inter-war administration that did not authorize a single warship. Yet construction under Hoover continued despite the rejection by the Administration of every one of the Board's recommended building programs. By March, 1933, the Navy commissioned all eight of the heavy cruisers authorized in December, 1924, and two of the cruisers authorized on February 13, 1929. Although also authorized before President Hoover took office, the Navy launched the Ranger on February 25, 1933. The Navy also laid down the keels for three submarines and five destroyers during Hoover's term, yet all had been authorized in 1916. 3

Hoover set forth his views on national defense in his


speech of October 26, 1931. He declared that to maintain forces incapable of defending the continental United States "is to destroy national safety," he noted that to maintain "greater forces is not only economic injury to our people, but a threat against our neighbors and would be righteous cause for ill-will amongst them."4 Therefore Hoover did not concur with the members of the General Board. The Board believed that the U.S. should be prepared to defend American commerce and possessions like the Philippine Islands, and the President would not sanction a fleet capable of such tasks- The admirals never truly appreciated Hoover's views or his dedication to the concept of disarmament. Hoover put his faith in disarmament conferences to reduce international tension and naval spending, an ideal not realized at the time of his defeat by Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Despite the divergent views on naval strength held by the Board and by the President, the condition of U.S. fleet was not as dismal as Gardiner and others would have the public believe. The U.S. battle fleet was still powerful enough to protect the United States without the addition of more vessels. As Hoover noted in his Memoirs, he asked the Army and Navy staffs in 1929 if the U.S. defenses were "strong enough to prevent a successful landing of foreign soldiers on the continental United States and ultimately on the Western Hemisphere?" The reply was emphatically "yes."5






government, and that his General Board is undermining the efforts of the civilian branches of the government to live with the other nations on a give and take basis."10

Bristol believed that the Navy was "essential to the carrying out of the policies of our government."11 He subscribed to the view that "A just man armed keepeth his house in order," and to Bristol and the other members of the General Board, the "house," regardless of President Hoover's views, was the "Naval Policy of the United States." 12 In the policy, the U.S. Navy was sworn to protect "cardinal" American interests such as the Open Door to China, protection of commerce lanes, particularly those to Asia, and the defense of the Philippines, interests that President Hoover did not believe were as vital as the Board claimed.

By formulating a "Naval Policy of the United States" without Congressional or executive approval, the Board was arguably dabbling in foreign policy [insurrection, coup d'etat?]. Lacking any direction or liaison with the State Department, the Board consistently gave the Navy a mission and proposed ships to suit the missions in each years building program. One point is clear: the Board proposed structuring the fleet according its assessment of U.S. foreign policy, not the President's.

Yet the Naval War College war games consistently showed at American defense of the Philippines was nearly


impossible. And what of trade with Asia? Was it so crucial? Statistics show that the U.S. exports to China amounted to only 1.9 percent of all of U.S. exports. On the other hand, the U.S. exports to Japan amounted to 8.3 percent of all U.S. exports. In fact, the greatest U.S. trading partner was Great Britain, the other potential adversary of the U.S., according to the Board. 13 Such trade statistics were never brought up at any of the Board's hearings, nor did it interview any business leaders or officials from the State or Commerce Departments on concerning U.S. trade. Why then, this continued insistence on a large fleet to defend policies never approved of the Chief Executive?

In order to get building programs and appropriations through Congress, the Board had to convince the elected representatives that the U.S. needed a large fleet to protect the interests specified in the Board's "Naval Policy of the United States" against any enemy. What better enemies than the potent naval powers such as Great Britain or Japan? The Board members were therefore following the imperialistic philosophies of Mahan that had been drilled into their minds at Annapolis and the Naval War College. Although such a philosophy had been prevalent in Great Britain for centuries, the officers of the U.S. Navy had not been exposed to such sentiments in their training until the formation of the Navy's professional schools.


The General Board did not formulate its recommendations on the prevailing sentiments or beliefs of Congress or the public either. The forceful RADM Mark Bristol explained on July 17, 1931, during a hearing on preparations for the Geneva World Disarmament Conference:

Therefore it would be the last thing for us to try to recommend something from this Board or anybody in the Navy to suit the public opinion. We should say what we believe is right. This seems to be like bringing coals to Newcastle but I am saying this as much for myself as I am for anybody else. It is to bolster up my own feelings to say what is right and not according to what we can get from Congress or the people.14

This explains why the Board continued to push for construction and demanded twenty-one heavy cruisers during the sensitive negotiations between the U.S. and Great Britain prior to the 1930 London Conference. The Board maintained a stubborn, but perhaps correct, belief that, it was best qualified to decide what the Navy required. The officers of the General Board the Navy maintained that the U.S. required a minimum of two to one ratio of warships over Japan and equality with England. How much of this "stubbornness" was due to the influence of the Chairman of the Board is difficult to determine. Perhaps a different officer such as Admiral Pratt, had he been the Chairman of the General Board instead of the CNO, would have been more cooperative with the Administration. But the documentation left by the Board points to the fact that the majority of the members shared RADM Long's and RADM Bristol's views.


Depression or no Depression, the Board remained firm in its view that the U.S. must have a navy "second to none." Moreover the Board members looked to the west with more apprehension than they did to the east, despite the number of references in the Board's hearings to the expanding Royal Navy. The Anglophobia exhibited by the Board, even more so than any expressed concern over the Japanese Navy, can be explained beyond the need to justify a large fleet to Congress. The Board members believed that Great Britain was striving for naval supremacy to defend the Empire and "for the development of other imperial policies, domination of world markets and world carrying trade."15 The Board members carefully noted, as Mahan would undoubtedly agree, that "unless countries are willing to sacrifice national economic interests, navies must be maintained for the support and furthering of those interests."16 Consequently, the Board recommended that the U.S. build a fleet equal to that of Britain.

As the United States' closest economic rival, old enemy, and a power that maintained naval bases near the Atlantic seaboard, it was only logical that the Board considered Great Britain as a possible adversary. However not all officers subscribed to this view, the most notable exception being Admiral W.V. Pratt. But since Britain had the largest navy in the world, the Board succumbed to the age old military practice of only considering a rival


nation's capabilities, not its intentions. Therefore the Board always played this powerful ace in the poker game with Congress over appropriations.

Even though the Board twisted the lion's tail, as early as 1921 the Board began to consider Japan as a possible enemy. In assessing Japan's foreign policy, the Board noted that it consisted of three points "Territorial expansion, by peaceful means if possible, by conquest if necessary; Commercial domination of the Orient; Eventual political control of the Far East."17 One probable reason for the lack of concern actually voiced during the hearings about Japan was the lack of hard intelligence on the Japanese fleet. Naval attachés; were usually welcomed aboard Royal Navy vessels, but the Japanese permitted no such visits on their warships.18 Also, the Board did not receive any of the intelligence gathered on the Imperial Japanese Navy by the ONG. This fact is one reason the Board did not know of the Japanese development of carrier aircraft, torpedoes, night fighting tactics, or the amount of money spent on each Japanese warship.

Nevertheless, the Board, and the Navy Department, expressed their concern in a very tangible way by placing the bulk of the Battle Fleet in the Pacific. The Navy's concern is also evident in the number of war games played by the Naval War College based on a conflict with "ORANGE." Also, the Board reflected its concern by insisting that


each U.S. warship have the capability to cruise at least 10,000 nautical miles without refueling, due to the lack of large naval bases in the Western Pacific. Therefore each warship was capable of cruising in the far reaches of the Pacific.

The U.S. Navy's concern about Japanese intentions began to be justified in 1931 when Japan invaded Manchuria, and many in Congress, most notably Rep. Carl Vinson of the House Naval Affairs Committee, took notice of the condition of the U.S. fleet. Vinson began to push for a naval expansion bill, and although his efforts did not bear fruit during Hoover's Administration, they did in 1934 with the passage of the Vinson-Trammel Act and again in 1938 with the passage of the Vinson Act."19 Although the Board's opinion that the Philippines could be successfully defended was questionable, the U.S. fleet, made up of ships designed by the Board, was arguably prepared to meet the Imperial Japanese Navy on equal terms during the 1930's. In a large part due to the Board's efforts, the U.S. Fleet possessed seven formidable carriers and a well designed submarine fleet by the time of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Several conclusions may be drawn about the Board's membership from the available evidence. Every member of the Board during Hoover's Administration, including the ex-officio members, graduated from Annapolis. The earliest graduates were from the Class of 1887 and the latest


graduates were from the Class of 1897. Each member had been in the Navy for the majority of their adult lives, over thirty years service. All of the RADMs had over fifteen years of duty at sea. Nearly half were graduates of the Naval War College. The average age of the members of the Board's Executive Committee in 1929 and 1930 was 59, and in 1931 and 1932 their average age was 60. 20

Many of the Board's members were decorated veterans. Major General W.C. Neville, USMC, and Commander T.S. Wilkinson were recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor- Four members had been awarded the Navy Cross. Although ho members of the Board during this period were registered pilots, RADMs J.M. Reeves and K.V. Butler were qualified as aviation observers. 21

Groundless are assertions by some historians that the Board was dominated by officers nearing retirement who were 22 "out of touch with new weapons and tactics.22 Although some admirals retired after their service on the Board, such as Mark L. Bristol and Andrew T. Long, others saw the Board as a stepping stone in their career. Indeed, when RADM Bradley A. Fiske learned that he would be assigned to the 23 General Board, he was "overjoyed."23 Fiske noted that duty on the Board was "the best possible duty a captain could have on shore, especially if he cherished aspiration toward flying his flag afloat."24

By the late 1920's membership on the Board was no


longer as eagerly sought after as a step towards future sea commands as was the case prior to the creation of the Office of the CNO. But, many admirals such as Pratt, who served on the Board from 1921 through 1923, Ghormley, Kinkaid, Senn, H.V. Butler, Gheraardi, St. Clair Smith, Williams, and Train all went on, after their tour of duty on the Board, to fleet commands. Some members, including Commander Ghormley, received operational fleet commands during the World War II.25

Some officers joined the Board to serve out their remaining time before they retired. Nevertheless, such men, including RADMs Long and Bristol, had held fleet commands prior to joining the Board. Many were veterans of the Spanish-American War, the Philippine War, and World War I . They were experienced international sailors, graduates of the Naval War College, and brought to the Hoard their vast experience and practical insight based upon their years of service.

Concerning new naval technologies, the General Board was not out of touch with new weapons and tactics. While it is true that every member of the Board believed that the battleship "is the ultimate measure of strength of the Navy," the Imperial Japanese Naval High Command and the Royal Navy's Admiralty Board, who were also advocates of Mahan's theories, shared the Board's belief. 26 Had battleship construction not been limited by either the Washington


Naval Treaty or the subsequent London Naval Treaty,- the Board undoubtedly would have pressed for the construction of more battleships, probably over the construction of aircraft carriers. The U.S. Navy should be thankful that the U.S. participated in the Washington and London Treaties because these treaties limited battleship construction and thus allowed the Navy to concentrate on other warship designs.

Nevertheless, responsibility for the continued development and implementation of naval air power within the fleet rests with the Board, the CNO, and the bureaus. Although the Board did not yet subscribe to the carrier tactics as advocated by RADM Moffett, the Board and the CNO were open to new concepts and continually pushed for the development of carrier tactics with the fleet. During each year of the Hoover Administration, the Board always recommended that the U.S. lay down at least one aircraft carrier. Indeed, the Board attempted to convince the staunch naval aviation advocates that each carrier should have suitable compartmentation and armor protection, protection that the officers and men of the Wasp and Hornet undoubtedly wished had been incorporated into the design of these carriers.

Even the crusty battleship proponent, CNO Hughes, resisted Congressional attempts to de-commission at least one of the Navy's expensive carriers and made sure that the


Saratoga and Lexington remained in active service throughout the Depression. Also, the Board pushed for the construction of at least one radical flying deck cruiser for experimental purposes. Finally, the Board continually recommended the construction of at least one new aircraft carrier in each of its yearly building programs.

By its continued insistence that each U.S. warship have a long cruising radius, including the submarines, extensive compartmentation, armor protection, high speed, and scouting aircraft for each surface vessel, the Board made sure that the U.S. Fleet was a formidable force, a force respected by the Imperial Japanese and Royal navies.

The primary shortcoming in the Board's theories of naval warfare was its continued insistence that new vessels be designed to fight a Jutland type battle. This explains the Board's continued insistence that the destroyers and some cruisers would work with the battle fleet and not with convoy protection. The Board chose not to learn from the experience of the U-3oat.campaign of World War I, but again it was no different in this respect than the Admiralty Board or the Japanese Naval High Command. It was aware of new tactics but chose to take a more conservative approach to the design and implementation of new naval technology and tactics.

Its views that the destroyer, the cruiser and the submarine were weapons to be used against an enemy's


warships and as scouts for the fleet again were no different than its foreign counterparts. All nations taking part in the naval limitation conferences publicly disapproved of commerce raiding. Even the Germans seemed slow to grasp the effectiveness of commerce warfare, as it was not until 1941 that the German Kriegsmarine began full scale commerce warfare. At the outbreak of World War II, the primary targets of the U-boats were vessels of the Royal Navy.

In assessing the Board's influence with the executive branch, one must conclude that the Board was relatively ineffective. After the September 1929 meeting, Hoover never asked for the Board's advice even though the U.S. participated in another arms limitation conference in Geneva during 1932. Hoover instead turned to Pratt. As for the State Department, there was no official, contact between any official from the State Department and the Board after the Board members coached Secretary Stimson prior to the London Naval Conference. Although sympathetic to the Board's position, Stimson took Moffett's advice over that given by the Board.

SECNAV Adams naturally worked more closely with the Board than did any other member of Hoover's cabinet. But since Adams was left out of the major naval limitation negotiations except in his capacity as a messenger between the Board and Hoover in 1929, there were not many times


that the SECNAV worked with the Board. Adams did continue to order the Board to draft a building program each year, and supported them as best he could, but Adams' true allegiance was to Hoover, not the Navy.

The Board had little-contact with Congress, as no member appeared before either the House or Senate Appropriation Sub-committees. Only at the hearings on the 1930 London Naval Treaty did Congressmen sit face to face with members of the General Board. Whereas the Naval Affairs Committee appeared to sympathize with the Board's objection to the Treaty, the reverse is true of the Foreign Relations Committee. Indeed, many members of the Foreign Relations Committee had never heard of the General Board. Nevertheless, the Treaty passed; and one must conclude that the Board had little influence with Congress.

As for the Navy's opinion of the Board, by 1932 it had become an integral part of the naval establishment, and a necessary part of the naval construction process. Most of the naval officers who testified at the hearings on the London Treaty sided with the Board's demands for a minimum of twenty-one heavy cruisers and many officers resented Pratt's support of the Administration. Although the Board did not always represent the views of the entire naval establishment, the Navy supported the majority of the Board's recommendations.

Because Admiral Pratt and Adams handled the naval cuts


ordered by Hoover, they bore the brunt of naval disaffection, but in the process gained the confidence of the Executive Department. As for the CNO's interaction with the Board, Pratt's relationship differed markedly from that of Admiral Hughes. Responsibility for the reduction of the Board's influence over naval affairs by removing himself and the other ex-officio members from the Board belongs to Pratt. He was thus furthering an on-going decline in the Board's influence, a process that began when the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations took over from the Board its most important task: the war planning function. By 1933, the CNO held the most influence in the Navy Department. How much of this was due to Bristol's stubbornness in defending his views of the Navy's function and needs is difficult to determine. Nevertheless, one point was clear, the Board's power was declining, a process that continued through World War II. Had another admiral been appointed CNO in place of Pratt, one may speculate that such a change may not have come about at that time.

The Board played an important part within the Navy Department. While not a general staff, at its inception the Board was a uniquely American solution to the problem of coordinating the bureaus because it had no executive powers and therefore proved to be acceptable to civilian officials. By its position as a balance wheel, sounding board, and an impartial mediator between the various


independent bureaus that worked with the Board, and coordinated those bureau's functions without threatening each individual bureau's independence, the Board was able to recommend adequate ship designs. Before SECNAV Long created the General Board, such a process had proven to be a difficult job at best. As the civilian clerk for the Board ideally noted:

A fundamental difference exists between the bureaus of the Navy and the General Board, in that each bureau views its work with reference to its specialty as a part of the Navy Department with subordination to the national policies as a background, where as the General Board views the questions before it taking the Navy as a whole to be harmonized with other efforts of the government in behalf of the nation.27

The Board's relationship with the bureaus, to a large extent, depended upon the personalities of the individuals involved, both on the Board and in the bureaus. During Hoover's Administration, this relationship functioned smoothly. The Board, then, was successful in overcoming the independence and jealousies within the bureaus and thus coordinated their actions, thereby ensuring that ships were constructed to meet the needs of the Navy as a whole. The Board was more successful at such work than at providing advice to Secretary Adams or the President. Although not an ideal arrangement, it was one that worked.

The Board's greatest positive influence on the inter-war Navy was in naval ship construction and in its efforts to design and complete a formidable fleet. Plans for the


warships built for the Navy, worked out by the bureau's through the coordination and advice of the Board, proved to be for the most part, successful during the campaign against Japan in World War II. U.S. submarines, although not originally designed for commerce warfare, proved quite capable of such tactics. The carriers, designed under the direction of the Board during the Hoover Administration, defeated the Japanese carrier fleet at the Battle of Midway. Adequate too, with the exception of torpedo capabilities, were the designs for the heavy and light cruisers, and destroyers used at the outset of the conflict. Perhaps a more ideal body could have been designed, but the General Board did prove to be an effective organizational body for the construction of a formidable battle fleet.



1. General Board Report, No. 420-2, Serial No. 1651, 21 September, 1932; Serial No. 1725, 10 May, 1933, RGB, RG 80, NA; Wilson, "Herbert Hoover," p. 72.

2. Wheeler, Pratt, p. 373.

3. Annual Report of the Secretary of the Navy, 1929-1933; Wheeler, "Charles Francis Adams," p. 643.

4. New York Times, 27 October, 1931, 1:1.

5. Hoover to Adams, 11 August, 1931, Presidential Papers, OF 18m-Navy, HKPL.

6. Wheeler, Pratt, p. 338; Adams, Witness to Power

7. Hoover, Memoirs, p. 338.

8. Memorandum for Captain Howard by Commander T.S. Wilkinson, 23 August, 1932, RG 3, RG 80, NA.

9. Charles A. Beard, Navy: Defense or Portent? (New York: Harper, 1932), pp. 98-99.

10. Ibid.

11. U.S. Congress, Senate, Naval Affairs Committee, Hearings, "A Bill to Authorize the Building Up of the U.S. Navy to the Strength Permitted by the Washington and London Naval Treaties," January 7-9, 1932 (Washington, D.C.: USGPO, 1933), p. 74.

12. Memorandum for Captain Howard, 23 August, 1932.

13. League of Nations, International Trade Statistics, 1935-1938 (Geneva: League of Nations Press, 1938), pp. 109, 229. U.S. trade with China left an annual deficit of $27,000,000, whereas U.S. trade with Japan left a positive annual trade balance of $32,000,000 and trade with Great Britain left a positive annual trade balance of $240,000,000, not including trade with its colonies or any of the Commonwealth nations.


14. HGB, "Draft Convention," 30 September, 1931, pp. 698-699.

15. General Board Report, No. 438, Serial No. 1347-A, 1924, Presidential Papers, OF 18m-Navy, HHPL.

16. Ibid.

17. General Board Report, "Report of the General Board on Limitation of Armaments," (Washington, D.C.: USGPO, 1921), p. 8., RGB, RG 80, NA.

18. "Submarines V7, V8, V9, Plans For," 27 March, 1930, p. 74.

19. Albion, Makers of Naval Policy, pp. 252-254.

20. The statistics were formulated by information obtained in Register of the Commissioned Officers, 1928-1934.

21. Ibid.

22. See Waldo K. Keinrichs, Jr., "The Role of the U.S. Navy," in 3org, ed., Pearl Harbor as History, p. 200.

23. Bradley Fiske, From Midshipman to Rear-Admiral (New York: Charles Scribner's, 1919), p. 475; as quoted in Albion, Makers of Naval Policy, p. 82.

24. Ibid.

25. Obtained from Register of the Commissioned Officers, 1920-1934.

26. General Board Report, No. 438-1, Serial No..1385, 11 August, 1928, RG 3, RG 80, NA; Roskill, Naval Policy Between the Wars, pp. 23-24.

27. Butler, "The General Board," pp. 700-701.



Navy Department Organization chart - Appendix I



Aircraft Carriers Authorized Contract Keel laid Launched Commissioned Builder
CV 4 Ranger 13 Feb 29 1 Nov 30 26 Sep 31 25 Feb 33 4 Jan 34 Newport News S.B. Co.
8" Gun Cruisers
CA 24 Pensacola 18 Dec 24 7 Mar 25 27 Oct 26 25 Apr 29 6 Feb 30 Navy Yard, New York
CA 25 Salt Lake City " 9 Jul 26 9 Jun 27 23 Jan 29 11 Dec 29 New York S.B. Co.
CA 27 Chester " 13 Jun 27 6 Mar 28 13 Jun 30 24 Jun 30 New York S.B. Co.
CA 26 Northampton " " 12 Apr 28 5 Sep 29 17 May 30 Bethlehem S.B. Co.
CA 30 Houston " " 1 May 28 7 Sep 29 17 Jun 30 Newport News S.B. Co,
CA 31 Augusta " " 2 Jul 28 1 Feb 30 30 Jan 31 Newport News S.B. Co.
CA 28 Louisville " " 4 Jul 28 1 Sep 30 15 Jan 31 Navy Yard, Puget Sound
CA 29 Chicago " " 10 Sep 28 10 Apr 30 9 Mar 31 Navy Yard, Mare Island
CA 33 Portland 13 Feb 29 15 Aug 29 17 Feb 30 21 May 32 23 Feb 33 Bethlehem S.B. Co.
CA 35 Indianapolis " " 31 Mar 30 7 Nov 31 15 Nov 32 New York S.B. Co.
CA 34 Astoria " 12 Jul 29/ 1 Sep 30 16 Dec 33 28 Apr 34 Navy Yard, Puget Sound
CA 32 New Orleans " 2 Jun 30* 14 Mar 31 12 Apr 33 15 Feb 34 Navy Yard, New York
CA 36 Minneapolis " 27 Jan 31 6 Sep 33 19 May 34 Navy Yard, Philadelphia
CA 38 San Francisco " 11 Oct 30 9 Sep 31 9 Mar 33 10 Feb 34 Navy Yard, Mare Island
CA 37 Tuscaloosa " 3 Mar 31 3 Sep 31 15 Nov 33 17 Aug 34 New York S.B. Co.
CA 39 Quincy " 9 Jan 33 15 Nov 33 19 Jan 35 9 Jun 36 Bethlehem S.B. Co.
DD 350 Hull 26 Apr 16 15 Jul 31/
11 Feb 32*
7 Mar 33 31 Jan 34 11 Jan 35 Navy Yard, New York
DD 351 MacDonough " 29 Sep 31/
11 Feb 32*
15 May 33 22 Aug 34 15 Mar 35 Navy Yard, Boston
DD 352 Worden " 29 Sep 31/
1 Oct 32*
29 Dec 32 27 Oct 34 15 Jan 35 Navy Yard, Puget Sound


APPENDIX II (Continued)

Destroyers Authorized Contract Keel laid Launched Commissioned Builder
DD 348 Farragut 26 Apr 16 11 Dec 31 20 Sep 32 15 Mar 34 18 Jun 34 Bethlehem S.B. Co.
DD 349 Dewey " 11 Dec 31 16 Dec 32 28 Jul 34 4 Oct 34 Bath Iron Works Corp.
DD 355 Aylwin " 23 Sep 32/
1 Oct 32*
23 Sep 33 10 Jul 34 1 Mar 35 Navy Yard, Philadelphia
DD 354 Monaghan " "* 21 Nov 33 9 Jan 35 19 Apr 35 Navy Yard, Boston
DD 355 Dale " "* 10 Feb 34 23 Jan 35 17 Jun 35 Navy Yard, New York
SS 170 26 Apr 16 12 Feb 31 21 Oct 31 19 Oct 33 1 Dec 33 Navy Yard, Portsmouth
SS 171 " 29 Jun 31 7 Oct 31 21 Nov 33 8 Jun 34 Electric Boat Co.
SS 169 " 11 Dec 29 14 Jun 30 8 Mar 32 1 Jan 32 Navy Yard, Portsmouth
*date assigned to yard/beginning of construction
    Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1922-1946,




1. Private Papers.

Mark L. Bristol Papers, Library of Congress.
Herbert Hoover Papers, Herbert Hoover Presidential Library.
William D. Leahy Papers, Library of Congress.
Charles B. McVay Papers, Library of Congress.
Henry L. Stimson Diary, Microfilm Copy, Herbert Hoover Presidential Library.
Montgomery Meigs Taylor Papers, Library of Congress.

2. Government Documents, Manuscript

General Board Reports, 1928-1933, National Archives.
Record Group 38. National Archives. Records of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations.
Record Group 43. National Archives. Department of State.
Record Group 80. National Archives. Navy Department.

3. Private Papers, Published

James, Robert R., ed., Winston S. Churchill, His Complete Speeches, 1897-1963. London: Chelsa House, 1974.
Myers, William Starr, ed. The State Papers and Other Public Writings of Herbert Hoover. 2 vols. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Doran, and Co., 1934.
Seager, Robert II., ed., Alfred Thayer Mahan: The Man and His Letters. Annapolis: NIP, 1974.


4. Government Documents, Published

League of Nations, International Trade Statistics: 1936-1938. Geneva: League of Nations Press, 1939.
U.S., Congress, House, Subcommittee of the Committee on Appropriations. Hearings on the Navy Department Appropriation Bill for 1929-1934. Washington: GPO, 1928-1933.
U.S., Congress, House, Committee on Naval Affairs, Hearings on Sundry Legislation Affecting the Naval Establishment, 1930-1931. (71st Cong. 3rd Sess., 1930) Washington: GPO, 1931.
U.S., Congress, Joint Committee, Hearings Before the Joint Committee on the Investigation of the Pearl Harbor Attack. (79th Cong. 1st and 2nd Sess., 39 parts, 1945-1946, pursuant to S. Con. Res. 27, 79th Cong.) Washington: GPO, 1946.
U.S. Congress, Senate, Subcommittee of the Committee on Appropriations. Hearings on the Navy Department Appropriation Bill for 1929-1934. Washington: GPO, 1928-1934.
U.S. Congress, Senate, Committee on Foreign Relations, Hearings on Treaty on the Limitation of Naval Armaments. (71st Cong. 1st Sess., 1930) Washington: GPO, 1930.
U.S. Congress, Senate, Committee on Naval Affairs, Hearings on a Bill to Authorize the Building Up of the U.S. Navy to the Strength Permitted by the Washington and London Naval Treaties. (72nd Cong. 1st Sess., January 7-9, 1932) Washington: GPO, 1932.
U.S., Navy Department, Annual Report of the Secretary of the Navy, 1923-1934. Washington: GPO, 1929-1935.
U.S., Navy Department, Hearings Before the General Board of the Navy, 1927-1934. Microfilm. Wilmington: Scholarly Resources, Inc., 1983.
U.S. Navy Department, Register of the Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps, 1920-1940. Washington: GPO, 1921-1941.
U.S., Navy Department, United States Navy Regulations, 1920. Washington: GPO, 1921.


U.S., Department of State, Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, 1929-1932. 12 Vols., Washington: GPO, 1945.

5. Published Journals, Memoirs, and Autobiographies.

Bowen, Harold G. Ships, Machinery, and Mossbacks: The Autobiography of a Naval Engineer. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1954.
Clarke, Adm. J.J. and Clark G. Reynolds. Carrier Admiral. New York: David McKay Co., 1967.
Cronon, E. David, ed. The Cabinet Diaries of Josephus Daniels: 1913-1921. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1963.
Dawes, Charles G. Journal as Ambassador to Great Britain. New York: Macmillan, 1939.
Fiske, Bradley A. From Midshipman to Rear-Admiral. New York: The Century Co., 1919.
Hoover, Herbert Clark. The Memoirs of Herbert Hoover: The Cabinet and the Presidency, 1920-1933. Mew York: The Macmillan Co., 1952.
Ito, Masanori, Roger Pineau. The End of the Japanese Navy. Translated by Andrew W. Kuroda and Roger Pineau. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1962.
King, Ernest J., and Walter M. Whitehill. Fleet Admiral King: A Naval Record. New York: W.W. Norton and Co., Inc., 1952.
Land, Emory Scott. Winning the War with Ships. New York: Robert McBride Co., 1958.
Layton, RADM Edwin T., Capt. Roger Pineau, and John Costello. And I Was There: Pearl Harbor and Midway - Breaking the Secrets. New York: William Morrow and Co., Inc., 1985.
Stimson, Henry L. The Far Eastern Crisis: Recollections and Observations. New York: Harper and Bros., 1936.
Stimson, Henry L. and McGeorge Bundy. On Active Service in Peace and War. New York: Harper and Bros., 1948.


6. Periodicals

Army and Navy Journal, 1928-1933.
London Times, 1929-1930.
New York Times, 1928-1933.
Time, 1928-1933.
United States Naval Institute Proceedings, 1928-1933.

7. Articles

Butler, Jarvis. "The General Board of the Navy." United States Naval Institute Proceedings, LVI (Aug. 1930), 700-705.
Gardiner, William Howard, "Functions of Naval Power." United States Naval Institute Proceedings, LV (Oct. 1929), 339-346.
Gatch, Lt. Cmdr. T.L. "How Peace?" United States Naval Institute Proceedings, LVI (Sept. 1930), 820-326.
Geraud, Andre. "The London Naval Conference: A French View." Foreign Affairs, VIII (1930), 519-532.
Kawakami, K.K. "The London Naval Conference as Viewed From Japan." The Nineteenth Century and After, CVI (1929), 731-742.
Knox, Capt. Dudley W. "The London Treaty and American Naval Policy." United States Naval Institute Proceedings, LVI1 (Aug. 1930), 1079-1088.
"Mr. Hoover and Naval Disarmament." New Republic, LVII (Nov. 23, 1928), 31-32.
Pratt, Adm. W.V. "Disarmament and the National Defense." United States Naval Institute Proceedings, LV (Sept. 1929), 751-764.
"Lest They Forget." United States Naval Institute Proceedings. LIX (April 1933), 481-499.
"Our Naval Policy." United States Naval Institute Proceedings. LVIII (July 1932), 953-970.


Rodgers, RADM W.L. "The Navy as an Aid in Carrying Out Diplomatic Policies." United States Naval Institute Proceedings LV (Feb. 1929), 99-104.
Stimson, Henry L. "Bases of American Policy During the Past Four Years." Foreign Affairs XI (1933), 383-396.
Vickery, H.L. "A Naval Yardstick." Foreign Affairs VIII (Oct. 1929), 142-144.
Wallin, Homer N. "Permissible Building Programs Under the London Naval Treaty."' United States Naval Institute Proceedings LVI (Aug. 1930), 1074-1079.


1. Biographies

Adams, Henry H. Witness to Power: The Life of Fleer Admiral William D. Leahy. Annapolis: NIP, 1985.
Arpee, Edward. From Frigates to Flat Tops: The Story of the Life and Achievements of Rear Admiral William Adger Moffett, U.S.N. Lake Forest.: The Author, 1953.
Buell, Thomas B.. Master of Sea Power: A Biography of Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King. Boston: Little, Brown, 1980.
__________. The Quiet Warrior: A Biography of Admiral Raymond A. Spruance. Boston: Little, Brown, 1974.
Coletta, Paolo E., ed., Secretaries of the Navy, 2 vols. Annapolis: NIP, 1984.
Love, Robert W., ed-, The Chiefs of Naval Operations. Annapolis: NIP, 1980.
Lyons, Eugene. Herbert Hoover: A Biography. Garden City New York: Doubleday and Co., Inc.. 1964.
Reynolds, Clark G. Famous American Admirals. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Co., 1978.
Schuon, Karl.United States Naval Biographical Dictionary. New York: Franklin-Watts, 1964.
Wheeler, Gerald E. Admiral William Veazie Pratt, U.S. Navy. Washington, D.C: GPO, 1974.


2. Books

Albion, Robert G. Makers of Naval Policy, 1798-1947. Annapolis: NIP, 1980.
Barber, William J. From New Era to New Deal: Herbert Hoover, the Economists, and American Economic Policy, 1921-1933. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1985.
Beard, Charles A. American Foreign Policy in the Making: 1932-1940. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1954.
__________. The Navy: Defense or Portent? New York: Harper, 1932.
Belote, James H. and William M. Titans of the Seas: The Development and Operations of Japanese and American Carrier Task Forces During World War II. New York: Harper and Row, 1975.
Blair, Clay Jr. Silent Victory, The U.S. Submarine War Against Japan. New York: Bantam Books, 1976.
Borg, Dorothy and Shumpei Okamato, eds., Pearl Harbor as History: Japanese-American Relations, 1931-1941. New York: Columbia University Press, 1974.
Braisted, William R. The United States Navy in the Pacific, 1897-1909. New York: Greenwood Press, 1969.
Brodie, Bernard. A Layman's Guide to Naval Strategy. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1941.
Brundage, Percival Flack. The Bureau of the Budget. New York: Praeger Publishers, 1970.
Coletta, Paolo E. The American Naval Heritage. Lanham: University Press of America, 1987.
Connery, Robert H. The Navy and the Industrial Mobilization in World War II. New York: Da Capo Press, 1972.
Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1922-1946. New York: Conway Maritime Press, 1980.
Cooling, Benjamin F. Gray Steel and Blue Water Saw: The Formative Years of America's Military-Industrial Complex, 1881-1917, Hamden: Archon Books, 1979.


Current, Richard N. Secretary Stimson, A Study in State-Craft. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1954.
Davis, George T. A Navy Second to None: The Development of Modern American Naval Policy. New York: Harcourt, Brace. 1940.
Hassler, Warren W., Jr., With Shield and Sword: American Military Affairs, Colonial Times to the Present. Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1982.
Herrick, Waiter R., Jr. The American Naval Revolution. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1966.
Hutchmacher, Joseph and Warren I Susman, eds. Herbert Hoover and the Crisis of American Capitalism. Cambridge: Schenkman, 1973.
Karsten, Peter. The Naval Aristocracy: the Golden Age of Annapolis and the Emergence of Modern American Navalism. New York: Free Press, 1972.
Kimmel, Lewis H. Federal Budget and Fiscal Policy, 1789-1958. Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Institution, 1959.
Lockwood, Charles A. Down to the Sea in Subs. New York: Norton, 1967.
Long, John D. The New American Navy. New York. The Outlook Co., 1903.
Mahan, Alfred T. The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660-1783. Boston: Little, Brown, 1890.
Maslowski, Peter and Alan R. Millett. For the Common Defense: A Military History of the United States of America. New York: Free Press, 1984.
Masterson, David M. - Naval, History: The Sixth Symposium of the U.S. Naval Academy. Wilmington: Scholarly Resources, Inc., 1987.
Davis, Vincent. The Admirals Lobby. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1967.
Dorwart, Jeffery M. The Office of Naval Intelligence. Annapolis: NIP, 1979.
Deurs, George Van. Wings for the Fleet. Annapolis: NIP, 1966.
Ellis, L. Ethan. Republican Foreign Policy, 1921-1933. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1968.
Fausold, Martin L., ed. The Hoover Presidency; A Reappraisal. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1974.
Fagan, George V. Anglo-American Naval Relations, 1927-1937. Philadelphia: Pennsylvania University Press, 1954.
Perrell, Robert K. Peace in Their Time: The Origins of the Kellogg-Briand Pact. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1957.
__________. American Diplomacy in the Great Depression: Hoover-Stimson Foreign Policy, 1929-1933. New Haven: Yale University-Press, 1957.
Furer, Julius A. Administration of the Navy Department in World War II. Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1959.
Gardiner, Leslie. The British Admiralty. London: William Blackwood and Sons, Ltd., 1968.
Gretton, Vice Admiral Sir Peter. Winston Churchill and the Royal Navy. New York: McCann, Inc., 1968.
Gruinsburg, Thomas N. The Pursuit of Isolationism, in the United States Senate from Versailles to Pearl Harbor. New York: Garland Publishing, Inc. 1982.
Hagan, Kenneth J., ed. In Peace and War, Interpretations of American Naval History, 1775-1984. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1984.


Hassler, Warren W., Jr., With Shield and Sword: American Military Affairs, Colonial Times to the Present. Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1982.
Herrick, Walter R., Jr. The American Naval Revolution. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1966.
Hutchmacher, Joseph and Warren I. Susman, eds. Herbert Hoover and the Crisis of American Capitalism. Cambridge: Schenkman, 1973.
Karsten, Peter. The Naval Aristocracy: the Golden Age of Annapolis and the Emergence of Modern American Navalism. New York: Free Press, 1972.
Kimmel, Lewis H. Federal Budget and Fiscal Policy, 1789-1958. Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Institution, 1959.
Lockwood, Charles A. Down to the Sea in Subs. New York: Norton, 1967.
Long, John D. The New American Navy. New York: The Outlook Co., 1903.
Mahan, Alfred T. The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660-1783. Boston: Little, Brown, 1890.
Maslowski, Peter and Alan R. Millett. For the Common Defense: A Military History of the United States of America. New York: Free Press, 1984.
Masterson, David M. Naval History: The Sixth Symposium of the U.S. Naval Academy. Wilmington: Scholarly Resources, Inc., 1987.
McMurtrie, Francis E., ed. Jane's Fighting Ships: 1940. London: Sampson, Low and Marston, 1940.
Melhorn, Charles M. Two-Block Fox: The Rise of the Aircraft Carrier, 1911-1929. Annapolis: NIP, 1974.
Morison, Samuel E. History of United States Naval Operations in World War II., Vol. III. The Rising Sun in the Pacific, 1931-April 1942. Boston: Little, Brown, 1948.
__________. The Two Ocean War: A Short History of the United States Navy in the Second World War. Boston: Little, Brown, 1963.


Morton, Louis. United States Army in World War II. The War in the Pacific. Vol. 2, Strategy and Command: The First Two Years. Washington, D.C.: USGPO, 1962.
Nash, Lee, ed. Understanding Herbert Hoover: Ten Perspectives. Stanford: Hoover Institute Press, 1987.
O'Connor, Raymond G. Perilous Equilibrium: The United States and the London Naval Conference of 1930. Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 1962.
________. The Japanese Navy in World War Two. Annapolis: NIP, 1969.
Paullin, Charles 0. Paullin's History of Naval Administration, 1775-1911: A Collection of Articles from the U.S. Naval Institute "Proceedings." Annapolis: NIP, 1968.
Pelz, Stephen E. Race to Pearl Harbor. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1974.
Rappaport, Armin. Henry L. Stimson and Japan, 1931-33. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1963.
__________. The Navy League of the United States. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1962.
Reynolds, Clark G. The Fast Carriers: The Forging of an Air Navy. New York: McGraw Hill, 1968.
Roscoe, Theodore. On the Seas and in the Skies: A. History of the U.S. Navy's Air Power. New York: Hawthorn Books, 1970.
Roskill, Stephen. Naval Policy Between the Wars, 1919-1939, 2 Vols. New York: Walker and Co., 1968.
Selko, Daniel T. The Federal Financial System. Washington, D.C: Brookings Institution, 1940.
Spector, Ronald H. Eagle Against the Sun: The American War with Japan. New York: Free Press, 1985.
__________. Professors of War: The Naval War College and the Development of the Naval Profession. Annapolis: NIP, 1977.
Sprout, Harold and Margaret. The Rise of American Naval Power: 1776-1918. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1939.


__________. Toward a New Order of Sea Power: American Naval Policy and the World Scene, 1918-1922. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1946.
Stein, Harold, ed. American Civil-Military Decisions: A Book of Case Studies. Birmingham: University of Alabama Press, 1963.
Trask, David F. The War with Spain in 1898. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1981.
Tuchman, Barbara. Practicing History New York: Harper and Row, 1984.
Tuleja, Thaddeus V. Statesmen and Admirals: Quest for a Far Eastern Naval Policy. New York: W.W.. Norton, 1963.
Turnball, A.D. and Clifford L. Lord. History of United States Naval Aviation. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1949.
U.S. Bureau of the Census, The Statistical History of the United States From Colonial Times to the Present. Stamford: Fairfield Publishers, Inc., 1965.
Van Deurs, George. Wings for the Fleet. Annapolis: NIP, 1961.
Vlahos, Michael. The Blue Sword: The Naval War College and the American Mission, 1919-1941. Newport: Naval War College Press, 1980.
Wheeler, Gerald E. Prelude to Pearl Harbor: The United States Navy and the Far East, 1921-1931. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1963.

3. Articles

Albion, Robert G. "The Naval Affairs Committees, 1816-1947." United States Naval Institute Proceedings. LXXVIII (Nov. 1952), 1227-1237.
__________. "The Administration of the Navy, 1798-1945." Public Administration Review. V (Autumn, 1945), 293-302.
Andrade, Ernest, Jr. "The Ship That Never Was: The Flying Deck Cruiser." Military Affairs, XXXII (Dec 1968), 132-140.


________. "Submarine Policy in the United States Navy, 1919-1941." Military Affairs, XXXV (April 1971), 50-55.
Beers, Henry p. "The Development of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations." Military Affairs, X (Spring 1946), 40-48.
Burns, Richard D. "Regulating Submarine Warfare, 1921-1941: A Case Study in Arms Control and Limited War." Military Affairs, XXXV (April 1971), 56-63.
Craig, Paul M. "Lexington and Saratoga, the Beginning." United States Naval Institute Proceedings, XCV (Dec. 1969), 85-92.
Current, R.N. "The Stimson Doctrine and the Hoover Doctrine." American Historical Review, LIX (April 1954), 513-542.
Garrett, Wendall D. "John D. Long, Secretary of the Navy, 1S97-1902: A Study in Changing Political Alignments." New England Quarterly, XXXI (Sept. 1953), 291-311.
Greene, Fred. "The Military View of American National Policy, 1904-1940." The American Historical Review, LXVI (Jan. 1961), 354-377.
Hone, Thomas C. "Battleship vs. Aircraft Carriers: The Patterns of U.S. Navy Operating Expenditures, 1932-1941." Military Affairs, XLI (Oct. 1977), 133-141.
Kennedy, Thomas C. "Charles A. Beard and the Big Navy Boys." Military Affairs, XXXI (Summer 1967), 65-84.
Koistinen, Paul A.C. "The 'Industrial-Military Complex' in Historical Perspective: The Inter-War Years." Journal of American History, LVI (March 1970), 819-839.
Morison, Elting E. "Naval Administration in the United States." United States Naval Institute Proceedings, LXXII (Oct. 1946), 1303-1313.
Morton, Louis. "War Plan ORANGE: Evolution of a Strategy." World Politics, XI (Jan. 1959), 221-250.
Seager, Robert. "Ten Years Before Mahan: The Unofficial Case for the New Navy, 1880-1890." Mississippi Valley Historical Review, XL (Dec. 1953), 491-512.


Trimble, William F. "Admiral Hilary p. Jones and the 1927 Geneva Naval Conference." Military Affairs, XLIII (Feb. 1979), 1-4.
Wheeler, Gerald E. "William Veazie Pratt, U.S. Navy: A Silhouette of an Admiral." Naval War College Review, XXI (May 1969), 36-61.
Wilson, Eugene E. "The Navy's First Carrier Task Force." United States Naval Institute Proceedings. (Feb. 1950), 159-169.
Wilson, John R. "The Quaker and the Sword: Herbert Hoover's Relations with the Military." Military Affairs, XXXVIII (April 1974), 41-47.

4. Unpublished Dissertations

Wilson, John R. "Herbert Hoover and the Armed Forces: A Study of Presidential Attitudes and Policy." Northwestern University, 1971.


Copyright by author.


Published: Tue May 12 09:16:02 EDT 2020