Statement Issued to the Press by the Conference on the Limitation of Armament, December 15, 1921

The following announcement was made to the Sub-Committee on Naval Armament today:

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The following are the points of agreement that have been reached in the course of the negotiations between the United States of America, Great Britain and Japan with respect to their capital fighting ships.

An agreement has been reached between the three Powers—The United States of America, the British Empire, and Japan, on the subject of naval ratio. The proposal of the American Government that the ratio should be 5:5:3 is accepted. It is agreed that with respect to fortifications and naval bases in the Pacific region, including Hongkong, the status quo shall be maintained, that is, that there shall be no increase in these fortifications and naval bases except that this restriction shall not apply to the Hawaiian Islands, Australia, New Zealand and the islands composing Japan proper, or, of course, to the coasts of the United States and Canada, as to which the respective Powers retain their entire freedom.

The Japanese Government has found special difficulty with respect to the Mutsu, as that is their newest ship. In order to retain the Mutsu Japan has proposed to scrap the Settsu, one of her older ships, which, under the American proposal, was to have been retained. This would leave the number of Japan’s capital ships the same, that is, 10, as under the American proposal. The retention of the Mutsu by Japan in place of the Settsu makes a difference in net tonnage of 13,600 tons, making the total tonnage of Japan’s capital ships 313,300 tons, as against 299,700 tons under the original American proposal.

While the difference in tonnage is small, there would be considerable difference in efficiency, as the retention of the Mutsu would give to Japan two (2) post-Jutland ships of the latest design.

In order to meet this situation and to preserve the relative strength on the basis of the agreed ratio, it is agreed that the United States shall complete two (2) of the ships in course of construction, that is, the Colorado and the Washington, which are now about 90% completed, and scrap two (2) of the older ships, that is, the North Dakota and the Delaware, which under the original proposal were to be retained. This would leave the United States with the same number of capital ships, that is 18, as under the original proposal, with a tonnage of 525,850 tons, as against 500,650 tons as originally proposed. Three (3) of the ships would be post-Jutland ships of the Maryland type.

As the British have no post-Jutland ships, except one Hood, the construction of which is only partly post-Jutland, it is agreed that in order to maintain proper relative strength the British Government may construct two (2) new ships not to exceed 35,000 legend tons each, that is, calculating the tonnage according to British [Page 129] standards of measurement, or, according to American calculations, the equivalent of 37,000 tons each. It is agreed that the British Government shall, on the completion of these two (2) new ships, scrap four (4) of their ships of the King George V type, that is, the Erin, King George V, Centurion and Ajax, which were to have been retained under the original American proposal. This would leave the British capital ships in number 20, as against 22 under the American proposal. Taking the tonnage of the two (2) new ships according to American calculation, it would amount to 74,000, and the four ships scrapped having a tonnage of 96,400 tons, there would be a reduction in net tonnage of 22,400 tons, leaving the British’ tonnage of capital ships 582,050 instead of 604,450. This would give the British as against the United States an excess tonnage of 56,200 tons, which is deemed to be fair, in view of the age of the ships of the Royal Sovereign and the Queen Elizabeth types.

The maximum limitation for the tonnage of ships to be constructed in replacement is to be fixed at 35,000 legend tons, that is, according to British standards of measurement, or, according to American calculations, the equivalent of 37,000 tons, in order to give accommodation to these changes. The maximum tonnage of capital ships is fixed, for the purpose of replacement, on the basis of American standards of calculation, as follows:

United States, 525,000 tons
Great Britain, 525,000 tons
Japan, 315,000 tons

Comparing this arrangement with the original American proposal, it will be observed that the United States is to scrap 30 ships as proposed, save that there will be scrapped 13 of the 15 ships under construction and 17 instead of 15 of the older ships.

The total tonnage of the American capital ships to be scrapped under the original proposal, including the tonnage of ships in construction if completed, was stated to be 845,740 tons. Under the present arrangement the tonnage of the 30 ships to be scrapped, taking that of the ships in construction if completed, would be 820,540 tons.

The number of the Japanese ships to be retained remains the same as under the original proposal. The total tonnage of the ships to be scrapped by Japan under the original American proposal, taking the tonnage of new ships when completed, was stated to be 448,923 tons. The total tonnage of the ships to be scrapped under the present arrangement is 435,328 tons.

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Under the original proposal Great Britain was to scrap 19 capital ships (including certain pre-dreadnaughts already scrapped) whereas under the present arrangement she will scrap 4 more, or a total of 23. The total tonnage of ships to be scrapped by Great Britain, including the tonnage of the 4 Hoods, to which the proposal referred as laid down, if completed, was stated to be 583,375 tons. The corresponding total of scrapped ships under the new arrangement will be 22,600 tons more, or 605,975 tons.

Under the American proposal there were to be scrapped 66 capital fighting ships built and building, with a total tonnage (taking ships laid down as completed) of 1,878,043 tons. Under the present arrangement, on the same basis of calculation, there are to be scrapped 68 capital fighting ships, with a tonnage of 1,861,643 tons.

The naval holiday of 10 years with respect to capital ships, as originally proposed by the American Government, is to be maintained except for the permission to construct ships as above stated.

This arrangement between the United States, Great Britain and Japan is, so far as the number of ships to be retained and scrapped is concerned, dependent upon a suitable agreement with France and Italy as to their capital ships, a matter which is now in course of negotiation.