Washington Naval Treaty

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The Washington Naval Treaty, also known as the Five-Power Treaty, limited the naval armaments of its five signatories: the United States of America, the British Empire, the Empire of Japan, the French Third Republic, and the Kingdom of Italy. The treaty was agreed at the Washington Naval Conference, which was held in Washington, D.C. from November 1921 to February 1922, and was signed by representatives of the treaty nations on 6 February 1922. It was an attempt to prevent a naval arms race that began after World War I.

The terms of the treaty were modified by the London Naval Treaty of 1930 and the Second London Naval Treaty of 1936. By the time of the latter, Japan had declared it would no longer abide by the terms of the treaty and Italy was secretly disregarding it. Germany was never affected by the Washington or London treaties; its naval construction was limited under the Treaty of Versailles, the peace treaty that ended World War I.



In the aftermath of World War I the British Empire had the world's largest and most powerful navy, followed closely by the United States and more distantly by Japan. All three embarked upon large programs of new capital ships (battleships and battlecruisers). In 1920, the United States had declared an aim to produce a navy "second to none", and had already laid down keels for five battleships and four battlecruisers. Japan was at the start of its 8:8 program (eight battleships and eight battlecruisers). In early 1921 the British finalized the design and ordered four very large battlecruisers (G3 battlecruiser) with plans for four matching battleships (N3 battleship) to follow. This burst of capital ship construction kindled fears of a new naval arms race, similar to the Anglo-German Dreadnought race leading up to World War I.


After specifying some exceptions for ships in current use and under construction, the treaty limited the total capital ship tonnage of each of the signatories to the values tabulated at right. In addition, no single ship could exceed 35,000 tons (35,560 t),[1] and no ship could carry a gun in excess of 16 inches (406 mm).

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