Two-Ocean Navy Act

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Two-Ocean Navy Act
Great Seal of the United States
Other short titlesVinson-Walsh Act
Long titleAn Act to establish the composition of the United States Navy, to authorize the construction of certain naval vessels, and for other purposes.
NicknamesNavy Construction Act of 1940
Enacted bythe 76th United States Congress
EffectiveJuly 19, 1940
Citations
Public lawPub.L. 76–757
Statutes at Large54 Stat. 779, Chap. 644
Codification
Titles amended34 U.S.C.: Navy
U.S.C. sections amended34 U.S.C. §§ 494-497, 498-498k
Legislative history
  • Introduced in the House as H.R. 10100 by Carl Vinson (D-GA) on June 19, 1940
  • Committee consideration by House Naval Affairs, Senate Naval Affairs
  • Passed the House on June 22, 1940 (Passed)
  • Passed the Senate on July 10, 1940 (Passed) with amendment
  • House agreed to Senate amendment on July 11, 1940 (Agreed)
  • Signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on July 19, 1940

The Two-Ocean Navy Act, also known as the Vinson-Walsh Act, was a United States law enacted on July 19, 1940, and named for Carl Vinson and David I. Walsh, who chaired the Naval Affairs Committee in the House and Senate respectively. The largest naval procurement bill in U.S. history, it increased the size of the United States Navy by 70%.[1]

More importantly though, and the Act was not the last that increased the size of the Navy during World War II, it immediately enabled a program to grow the fleet at an unprecedented rate and marks the moment (in retrospect) the United States switched to a war-time naval economy.

Although the United States did not enter the war for another 16 months, the apparent impact of the expanded navy in the first 12 month of fighting was minimal. The first of the significant battles in the Pacific War in which these units constituted the bulk of the fleet was the Battle of the Philippine Sea in June 1944, but this is also a result of Japanese unwillingness to confront United States naval forces in 1943 with a high concentration of their own. See for example Operation Hailstone.

History[edit]

Modest naval expansion programs had been implemented by the Vinson-Trammell Act of 1934 and the Naval Act of 1938.[2][3] In early June 1940, the U.S. Congress passed legislation[4] that provided an 11% increase in naval tonnage as well as an expansion of naval air capacity.[5] Given that the expansion authorized in 1938 had already been implemented, the June 1949 law was likely going to happen anyway. On June 17, a few days after German troops conquered France, expelled British forces from continental Europe, and Winston Churchill announced Britain's intention to continue the war, a vitally important campaign of which would be fought in the Atlantic, Chief of Naval Operations Harold Stark requested four billion dollars from Congress to increase the size of the American combat fleet by 70%, adding 257 ships amounting to 1,325,000 tons.[6] On June 18, after less than an hour of debate, the House of Representatives by a 316–0 vote authorized $8.55 billion for a naval expansion program, that put emphasis on aircraft. Rep. Vinson, who headed the House Naval Affairs Committee, said its emphasis on carriers did not represent any less commitment to battleships, but "The modern development of aircraft has demonstrated conclusively that the backbone of the Navy today is the aircraft carrier. The carrier, with destroyers, cruisers and submarines grouped around it[,] is the spearhead of all modern naval task forces."[7] The Two-Ocean Navy Act was enacted on July 19, 1940.

The Act authorized the procurement of:[1][6]

The expansion program was scheduled to take five to six years, but a New York Times study of shipbuilding capabilities called it, "problematical" unless proposed "radical changes in design" were dropped.[8]

Implementation[edit]

In the latter half of 1940 numerous contracts were awarded to private enterprises[9]

Estimating the number of units concurrently scheduled for construction in government yards, with keel laid before 1942

Several yards that had never produced at a large scale, businesses that had not before contracted with the federal government or were mothballed after the Great Depression became operational as a result of those contracts. None of those yards produced any warships for the US Navy since 1920

existing private enterprises which had previously been underutilized in favor of government yards increased their rate of production

Government yards increased production, though at a smaller rate.

  • Mare Island Navy Yard
    • 4 submarines concurrently by 1941
    • probably having been scheduled to produce 1 in a normal FY41
  • Portsmouth Naval Shipyard
    • 4 submarines concurrently by 1941
    • probably having been scheduled to produce 2
  • Boston Navy Yard
    • first keel laid January 1941
    • finishes 2 and builds 4 destroyers concurrently by June 1941
    • built 2 destroyers per year in fiscal years FY33 to FY40 (16)

Destroyer production summary[edit]

Benson + Gleaves + Fletcher
Quarter Laid down Launched Commissioned
Q12/38 3 + 1 =     4
Q34/38 2 + 1 =     3
Q12/39 1 + 6 =     7
Q34/39 0 + 8 =     8 4 + 1 = 5
012/40 0 + 2 =     2 2 + 8 = 10 0 + 1 = 1
Q34/40 1 + 8 =     9 0 + 7 = 7 6 + 5 = 11
Q12/41 17 + 15 + 7 =    39 0 + 4 = 4 0 + 11 = 11
Q34/41 2 + 14 + 18 =    34 5 + 16 = 21 0 + 6 = 6
Q12/42 2 + 7 + 23 =    32 14 + 17 + 18 = 49 8 + 16 + 3 = 27
Q34/42 1 + 4 + 13 =    18 5 + 11 + 31 = 47 11 + 14 + 23 = 48
Q12/43 0 + 0 + 0 =     0 0 + 2 + 10 = 12 2 + 10 + 24 = 36
Q34/43 0 + 0 + 0 =     0 0 + 0 + 2 = 2 0 + 3 + 10 = 13

(until DD-541)


The Budget for the United States Government (as published) for fiscal year 41, starting on 1 July 1940, had called for

  • 1 aircraft carrier
  • 2 battleships
  • 2 light cruisers
  • 8 destroyers
  • 6 submarines
  • 1 submarine tender
  • 3 seaplane tenders
  • 1 minesweeper

to be built.[11]

Budget History[edit]

(reverse chronology puzzle-in-progress)

FY41[12] (Appropriation Act of June 11, 1940, Vol 54 p. 265)

fiscal year 40[16]

FY39[18] (Appropriations Act of April 26, 1938, Vol 52 p. 223)

Naval Act of 1938

  • ... The President is hereby authorized to undertake such construction, including replacements as is necessary to build the Navy to the total authorized underage composition ...
  • ... There is hereby authorized to be appropriated, out of any money in the treasury of the United States not otherwise appropriated, such sums as may be necessary to effectuate the purposes of this act ...
  • resulting in Hornet (CV-8), Atlanta (CL-51) ... San Juan (CL-54)[citation needed]
  • resulting in South Dakota (BB-57), Indiana (BB-58)

FY38[20] (Appropriations Act of April 27, 1037, Vol 50 p. 96)

FY37[22] (Appropriations Act of June 3, 1936, Vol 48 p. 1398)

FY36[23] (Appropriations Act of June 24, 1935, Vol 49 p. 398)

FY35 (Appropriations Act of March 15, 1934, Vol 48 p.403)

Emergency Relief Appropriation Act of 1935

Vinson-Trammell Act of 1934, March 27, 1934 - P73-135

Executive Order 6174 on Public Works Administration, June 16, 1933

  • "During the ensuing 30 days the Federal Emergency Administrator of Public Works shall have (...) authority to allot the sum of not to exceed $238,000,000 to the Department of the Navy for the construction of certain vessels, the construction whereof conforms to the London Naval Treaty and has heretofore been approved by me."

National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933, June 16, 1933

law of February 13, 1929[26]

1924 scout cruiser law

Impact on the War[edit]

The United States Navy on July 1940

Some of the vessels authorized in July 1940 were commissioned before the United States entered the war.

Bristol (DD-453), Ellyson (DD-454), Emmons (DD-457)

Submarines saw action as early as Midway

During the Guadalcanal Campaign (7 August 1942 - 9 February 1943) post-act ships showed up occasionally, but none of those larger than a destroyer. In the 3 major battles of that Campaign (bold), the Japanese Navy enjoyed a advantage in fighting ships by most measures.

Operation Hailstone (February 1944) marks a point at which the majority of the task groups consisted of post-act ships

The forces that attacked the Gilbert and Marshall Islands in November 1943 had a similar composition (TF50 provided the carrier forces in both operations).

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • Gardiner, Robert; Chesneau, Roger (1980). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1922-1946. London: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-83170-303-2.
  1. ^ a b Hutcheson, John A., Jr. Encyclopedia of World War II: A Political, Social, and Military History. p. 1541.
  2. ^ Allan R. Millett, "Assault from the sea: The development of amphibious warfare between the wars—the American, British, and Japanese experiences," in Williamson R. Murray, Allan R. Millett, eds., Military Innovation in the Interwar Period (Cambridge University Press, 1996), 83
  3. ^ "Vinson-Trammell Act of 1934 - P.L. 73-135" (PDF). 48 Stat. 503 ~ House Bill 6604. Legis★Works. March 27, 1934. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 3, 2015. Retrieved December 30, 2017.
  4. ^ "Uslaw.link".
  5. ^ David C. Evans and Mark R. Peattie, Kaigun: Strategy, Tactics, and Technology in the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1887-1941 (Naval Institute Press, 1997), 356
  6. ^ a b The Decline and Renaissance of the Navy, 1922-1944, Senator David I. Walsh, 78th Congress, Session 2, Document No. 2, http://www.ibiblio.org/pha/USN/77-2s202.html
  7. ^ Trussell, C.P. (19 June 1940). "8 1/2 Billion is Voted for 1,500 Warships" (PDF). New York Times. Retrieved 9 August 2012.
  8. ^ "New Navy Building Proceeds Swiftly" (PDF). The New York Times. 21 July 1940. Retrieved 9 August 2012.
  9. ^ "Index to Vol. 23".
  10. ^ "Index to Vol. 22".
  11. ^ page 669, "Replacement of Naval Vessels"
  12. ^ Budget of the United States Government FY41, p. 669
  13. ^ given that AV11-AV13 were ordered Jul-Dec 1940, keel laid date
  14. ^ Machinery is in FY40/FY41 contracts, keel laid date
  15. ^ Machinery is in FY40/FY41 contracts, keel laid date
  16. ^ Budget of the United States Government FY40, p. 592
  17. ^ Machinery is in FY40/FY41 contracts, keel laid date
  18. ^ Budget of the United States Government FY39, p. 548
  19. ^ "Index to Vol. 21".
  20. ^ Budget of the United States Government FY38, p. 533
  21. ^ "Index to Vol. 21".
  22. ^ Budget of the United States Government FY37, p. 481
  23. ^ Budget of the United States Government FY36, p. 499
  24. ^ mentioned in the FY36 budget p. 499
  25. ^ mentioned in the FY36 budget p. 499
  26. ^ "Uslaw.link".