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Two-Ocean Navy Act

19 Jul 1940


ww2dbaseSince the end of WW1, the United Kingdom had been the dominant naval power in Western Europe, as she had been historically, blocking vessels of any hostile European power from venturing too far west into the Altantic Ocean. Thus, the greater focus of the United States Navy had been building strenghth in the Pacific Ocean, relying on the Royal Navy to safeguard the Eastern Atlantic. As the UK was threatened with a potential invasion by mid-1940, US President Franklin Roosevelt and the top leadership of the US Navy understood that the British naval forces could no longer blockade German and Italian naval movement westward. Harold Stark, US Navy Chief of Naval Operations, built a new expansion plan upon a naval bill already passed by the US Congress on 17 May 1938 in order to establish a true "two-ocean Navy" that the US needed. This new expansion plan was approved by Roosevelt on 14 Jun 1940. On 17 Jun, German troops entered Paris, France, further pressing the issue that the UK might not be able to provide security alone in the Atlantic Ocean. On 19 Jul 1940, the US Congress passed the Vinson-Walsh Act (named after the two US Congressmen, Carl Vinson and David Walsh, who sponsored the bill), or better known as the "Two-Ocean Navy Act", which allocated four billion dollars over the following six years for the construction of combat ships (including, but not limited to: 7 battleships, 6 battlecruisers, 18 carriers, 27 cruisers, 115 destroyers, and 43 submarines), construction of 15,000 aircraft, conversion of auxiliary ships, contruction and renovation of facilities, and manufacture and procurement of various munitions and equipment. Speaking specifically, this act provided funding for several of the fleet carriers and naval aircraft that had a direct effect on the naval war in both the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean (particularly the latter), and this act provided the funding for the US Navy to construct airfields at Guam Island and Wake Island and to renovate the facilities at Hawaii Islands, Philippine Islands, and Midway Island. "[D]ollars cannot buy yesterday", said Stark, noting that the time lost by the US Navy over the past 15 or so years could not be truly remedied, but the allocation of funding was a step in the right direction for the US.

ww2dbaseThe US Congress and the American people generally regarded the Two-Ocean Navy Act as an attempt to deter any German or Japanese consideration to wage war against the United States.

ww2dbaseSource: The Battle of the Atlantic (Samuel Eliot Morison), Wikipedia.

Last Major Update: Nov 2009

Two-Ocean Navy Act Timeline

17 Jun 1940 US Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Harold R. Stark asked for US$4,000,000,000 to construct a "Two-Ocean Navy".
19 Jul 1940 The Two-Ocean Navy Act was passed by the US Congress.
14 Aug 1940 Roosevelt approved what later became the Two-Ocean Navy Act.

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Richard Vert says:
27 Feb 2015 09:41:31 AM

Americans take so much for granted today and have no idea how fortunate we really are.We owe the ww2 generation everything for standing against the axis and preserving our freedom. It can't be said enough and should be taught to our youngsters in school.So many think what we have is just handed to us. It wasn't , and it won't be easy to keep.
2. Anonymous says:
11 Nov 2018 10:34:43 AM

when was this piece written?

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