Book Review: Warships After Washington: The Development of the Five Major Fleets, 1922-1930


by John Jordan

Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2012. Pp. xiv, 338. Illus., diagr, tables, appends, notes, biblio, index. $56.95. ISBN: 1591149738

A technical look at the evolution of warships and fleets in the period between the Washington naval arms limitation treaty of 1922 and the London treaty of 1930.

Unlike many previous writers on the subject, naval historian Jordan does not see the treaty as disastrous to the interests of any of the countries, reminding us that as it essentially set up a stable ratio among the fleets, to avoid a naval arms race.  His primary interest, however, is how the various navies addressed warship development in the period.  Warships built before World War I were already obsolete, while those built during it did not incorporate any lessons learned from the conflict, given the many technological advances, such as the increasing capabilities of aircraft and submarines.  Most of the ships scrapped under the terms of the treaty fell into these categories.  Jordan also reminds us that each of the five participating nations, Britain, France, Italy, Japan, and the United States, had different reasons for having a fleet, which affected their decision making.  He examines the policy and design decisions of each of these powers, focused naturally on the three principal navies.  Some countries made better decisions than others, usually for domestic political reasons; the U.S., for example chose to let its fleet fall below the permitted levels, to save money, and thus lost some ground to Japan, which built to the prescribed limit. 

While anyone interested in navies and ships will find Warships After Washington rewarding reading, it will be of particular value for students of seapower and naval technology in the interwar period.

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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