500.A15a3/130: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Great Britain (Dawes)


225. Relative to your telegram No. 242, August 24, 2 p.m. The following review of our points of agreement is sent to you in an [Page 208] endeavor to meet the whole situation. The phraseology of some of these has been slightly changed to meet our general discussions, with the addition of certain clauses which may, prior to the general Conference, cover the whole of the questions if Mr. MacDonald agrees. This memorandum is in order that our entire discussion may be simplified.

The discussions are the result of the general pact renouncing war and of the consequent realignment of national attitudes to the position that the use of armaments is not permitted in the relations of nations with each other as an instrument of national policy; the starting point of agreement, therefore, must be taken to be that pact.
Parity in combatant strength of our respective navies is agreed between ourselves.
The principle that this parity shall be by categories, that is, submarines, destroyers, cruisers, aircraft carriers and capital ships, is agreed between ourselves.
It is agreed that the date when parity shall be arrived at between our fleets will be considered December 31, 1936.
The ratio of capital ships and aircraft carriers having been fixed to that date by the Washington Treaty, the provisions of that treaty shall not be disturbed by us, except that its replacement programs shall be reconsidered by us with a view to diminishing the amount of construction for replacement which the treaty implies.
The principle of total abolition of submarines in international warfare is agreed upon, but it is realized that the consent of other nations to this proposal may be impossible to obtain.
The limitation of future construction of destroyers and submarines and the reduction of their present aggregate tonnages is agreed upon. We agree to arrive at parity on December 31, 1936, as computed in standard tonnage in each of these two categories, by the construction required by either nation to reach parity, by obsolescence or by scrapping. As Great Britain retains tonnages beyond parity in the cruiser category, the United States may retain destroyers and submarines, temporarily in excess of the point of parity agreed upon and after the age of obsolescence during such parity prior to 1936.
We agree to adopt a yardstick for cruisers which shall measure the comparative value of vessels in this category. The basis for this yardstick shall be the principle that the standard will be taken to be a new 8-inch gun, 10,000 standard ton cruiser, and that consideration of age, gun factor and displacement shall determine the relative comparative strength of inferior cruisers. Inasmuch as other elements are relative to the facts as above mentioned, no others are to be considered.
A request for the formulation for submission to the Conference of the view of the yardstick to be applied under the principles [Page 209] set out in paragraph (8) above shall be requested of each Government signatory to the Washington Treaty.
Thirteen years for submarines, sixteen years for destroyers, twenty years for cruisers shall be the scrapping age of ships. Upon reaching scrapping age ships are forthwith to be scrapped except that as stated in paragraph (7) above and except that ships may be retained beyond the scrapping age as an alternative to permitted replacements.
A reduction of the British cruiser strength shall be made by December 31, 1936, to fifty units whose total displacement shall not exceed a standard tonnage of 330,000. Fifteen of these fifty units shall be 8-inch cruisers with an aggregate standard tonnage of 146,800. There shall be four 7.5-inch gun cruisers, with an aggregate tonnage of 39,426, and there shall be thirty-one 6-inch gun cruisers with an aggregate tonnage of 143,774, of which, prior to 1936, not more than seven armed with 6-inch guns are to be constructed.
Parity with the British cruiser strength shall be attained for the United States cruiser strength as above stated, taking into consideration the effect that the elements of age, displacement and guns as evaluated by the yardstick will have upon both navies.
The Conference will give consideration to the restricting of new cruiser construction to the peace time police cruiser type of slow speed and limited armament.
A provision will be contained in any agreement to be arrived at during the Conference that in the event of the inauguration by any nonsignatory power of a menacing building program, it will be open to reconsideration by any of the parties.
The British Government shall call a Conference of the five powers to meet early in December 1929 in London.
That this Conference will become the Conference which the Washington Treaty provides shall be called in 1931, will be proposed to the other naval powers signatory to the Washington Treaty.