Saturday, 1 May 2021

Warships after London

I bought my copy of WARSHIPS AFTER LONDON: THE END OF THE TREATY ERA IN THE FIVE MAJOR FLEETS, 1930 – 1936 when it was published a year ago, and I have just finished re-reading it.

The book is a follow-up to John Jordan’s earlier WARSHIPS AFTER WASHINGTON: THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE FIVE MAJOR FLEETS 1922 – 1930, which was published in 2011. In the latest book, the author looks at the developments in warship design that took place in Great Britain, the United States, Japan, France, and Italy during the period immediately after the signing of the London Naval Treaty of 1930. The Washington Naval Treaty of 1922 had already placed limited on the total tonnage of capital ships and aircraft carriers each of the signatory nations could build as well as set upper limits on the tonnage and armament of cruisers. The London Naval Treaty sought to extend those limits to cover smaller warships. The changes can be summarised as follows:

  • The maximum tonnage of an individual submarine was set at 2,000 tons standard displacement, and it could be armed with 6.1-inch/155mm calibre guns. Great Britain, the United States, and Japan could build up to three submarines of 2,800 tons standard tonnage and the French could keep the Surcouf, which was armed with 8-inch/203mm guns.
  • Cruisers were split into two categories, Light Cruisers (armed with 6.1-inch/155mm calibre guns and Heavy Cruisers (armed with 8-inch/203mm guns), and the major nations were limited as to the total tonnage of Light Cruisers they could build (192,200 tons for the British, 143,500 tons for the Americans, and 100,450 tons for the Japanese) and number and total tonnage of Heavy Cruisers that they could build (Great Britain was permitted 15 Heavy Cruisers with a total tonnage of 147,000 tons, the Americans 18 totalling 180,000 tons, and the Japanese 12 totalling 108,000 tons).
  • The size, armament, and total tonnage of destroyers was also set as follows: 1,850 tons standard tonnage per vessel, which could be armed with guns of up to 5.1-inch/130mm calibre, with Great Britain and the United States being permitted up to a maximum tonnage of 150,000 tons and the Japanese 105,500 tons.
  • Ships of less than 2,000 tons standard displacement, and with an armament not exceeding four 6.1-inch/155mm calibre (152 mm) and a maximum speed of 20 knots, were exempt from tonnage limitations.
  • Ships of less than 600 tons standard displacement were completely exempt for limitations.

The ships that were built under the terms of the London Naval Treaty were the most modern ships available when the Second World War broke out in 1939, and this book goes a long way to explain how each of the signatory nations designed and developed ships that would serve their particular requirements whilst remaining (not always very successfully!) within the limits set.

WARSHIPS AFTER LONDON: THE END OF THE TREATY ERA IN THE FIVE MAJOR FLEETS, 1930 – 1936 was written by John Jordan and published in 2020 by Seaforth Publishing (ISBN 978 1 6824 7610 9).

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