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The Two-Ocean Navy Act, also known as the Vinson-Walsh Act, was a United States law enacted on July 19, 1940, and named for Carl Vinson and David I. Walsh, who chaired the Naval Affairs Committee in the House and Senate respectively. The largest naval procurement bill in U.S. history, it increased the size of the United States Navy by 70%.[1]

Modest naval expansion programs had been implemented by the Naval Act of 1936 and the Naval Act of 1938.[2] In early June 1940, Congress passed legislation that provided for an 11% increase in naval tonnage as well as an expansion of naval air capacity.[3] On June 17, a few days after German troops conquered France, Chief of Naval Operations Harold Stark requested four billion US$ from to increase the size of the American combat fleet by 70% by adding 257 ships amounting to 1,325,000 tons.[4] On June 18, after less than an hour of debate, the House of Representatives by a 316–0 vote authorized $8.55 billion for a naval expansion program, giving emphasis to aircraft. Rep. Vinson, who headed the House Naval Affairs Committee, said its emphasis on carriers did not represent any less commitment to battleships, but "The modern development of aircraft has demonstrated conclusively that the backbone of the Navy today is the aircraft carrier. The carrier, with destroyers, cruisers and submarines grouped around it[,] is the spearhead of all modern naval task forces."[5] It was enacted on July 19, 1940.

The Act authorized the procurement of:[1][4]

The expansion program was scheduled to take five to six years, but a New York Times study of shipbuilding capabilities called it "problematical" unless planned "radical changes in design" are dropped.[6]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Hutcheson Jr., John A. Encyclopedia of World War II: A Political, Social, and Military History, pg. 1541
  2. Allan R. Millett, "Assault from the sea: The development of amphibious warfare between the wars—the American, British, and Japanese experiences," in Williamson R. Murray, Allan R. Millett, eds., Military Innovation in the Interwar Period (Cambridge University Press, 1996), 83
  3. David C. Evans and Mark R. Peattie, Kaigun: Strategy, Tactics, and Technology in the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1887-1941 (Naval Institute Press, 1997), 356
  4. 4.0 4.1 The Decline and Renaissance of the Navy, 1922-1944, Senator David I. Walsh, 78th Congress, Session 2, Document No. 2,
  5. Trussell, C.P. (19 June 1940). "8½ Billion is Voted for 1,500 Warships". Retrieved 9 August 2012. 
  6. "New Navy Building Proceeds Swiftly". 21 July 1940. Retrieved 9 August 2012. 

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