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
Public lawPub. L.Tooltip Public Law (United States) 76–757
Statutes at Large54 Stat. 779, Chap. 644
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. In what was then the largest naval procurement bill to date in U.S. history, it increased the size of the United States Navy by 70%.[1]


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 that provided an 11% increase in naval tonnage as well as an expansion of naval air capacity.[4] On June 17, a few days after German troops conquered France, 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.[5] On June 18, after less than an hour of debate, the House of Representatives by a 316–0 vote authorized $8.55 billion (equivalent to $141 billion today) 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."[6] The Two-Ocean Navy Act was enacted on July 19, 1940.

The Act authorized the procurement of:[1][5][7]

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]

See also[edit]


  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. ^ David C. Evans and Mark R. Peattie, Kaigun: Strategy, Tactics, and Technology in the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1887-1941 (Naval Institute Press, 1997), 356
  5. ^ a b The Decline and Renaissance of the Navy, 1922-1944, Senator David I. Walsh, 78th Congress, Session 2, Document No. 2,
  6. ^ Trussell, C.P. (19 June 1940). "8 1/2 Billion is Voted for 1,500 Warships" (PDF). New York Times. Retrieved 9 August 2012.
  7. ^ "The US Navy". Retrieved 11 March 2023.
  8. ^ "New Navy Building Proceeds Swiftly" (PDF). The New York Times. 21 July 1940. Retrieved 9 August 2012.