« PreviousContinue »
those vessels as will not be completed during the present fiscal year, and to begin construction during the fiscal year 1939 of two battleships, two light cruisers, eight destroyers, and six submarines. These are all replacement vessels for over-age combatant ships. The estimates also request funds for the construction of four auxiliary vessels—one submarine tender, one oiler, one mine sweeper, and one fleet tug-in accordance with legislation already enacted, which authorizes replacement of old auxiliaries with modern, more efficient vessels of the same types.
As discussed under section H of this statement, the London Naval Treaty of 1936 became effective July 29, 1937. The new treaty places no limit whatever on the size of the navies which the contracting nations may have—the United States, the British Commonwealth of Nations, and France, Germany, and Russia adhering to it in principle by means of separate agreements with Great Britain—the only restriction being one on the types of vessels which may be constructed.
It is desired to emphasize the fact that the present estimates are based on a Navy of combatant ships of the numbers and types authorized by the Vinson-Trammell Act of March 27, 1934, and do not contemplate any increase beyond the so-called Treaty Navy.
ESCALATOR CLAUSE Mr. UMSTEAD. Admiral, as I understand it, neither as to light cruisers, destroyers, nor submarines, do the estimates submitted here contemplate any construction in consequence of the exercise by foreign powers of rights accorded under the so-called escalator clause in the London Treaty of 1930?
Admiral LEAHY. The so-called escalator clause was invoked some years ago and changed the tonnage allowed to the different nations. It is a fact that, at the present time, we have in the Navy, through the invocation of the escalator clause, a greater tonnage in light cruisers and submarines than we were originally allowed by the Treaty.
Mr. UMSTEAD. Now, do these estimates contemplate any construction in consequence of the exercise by foreign powers of the escalator clause?
Admiral LEAHY. No, these estimates provide for replacements only of ships that are now in commission.
AUTHORIZATION OF CONSTRUCTION UNDER THE VINSON-TRAMMELL ACT
Mr. UMSTEAD. Has the Judge Advocate General ruled on the question as to whether or not the Vinson-Trammell Act authorizes the construction of vessels to which we become entitled by reason of action by other powers under the escalator clause?
Admiral LEAHY. The Judge Advocate General has expressed an opinion that the Vinson-Trammell Act does authorize construction permitted by the invocation of the escalator clause.
Mr. UMSTEAD. You say he has ruled that if the escalator clause is invoked by any foreign nation that such action makes the VinsonTrammell Act applicable to the increase thus brought about?
Admiral LEAHY. He has expressed an opinion that the escalator clause did in effect authorize our building up to the tonnage reached through the provisions of the escalator clause.
Mr. UMSTEAD. Has he issued a written ruling in that connection, Admiral?
Admiral LEAHY. He has expressed a written opinion.
"That the composition of the United States Navy with respect to the categories of vessels limited by the treaties signed at Washington, February 6, 1922, and at London, April 22, 1930, is hereby established at the limit prescribed by those treaties."
The so-called “escalator clause" occurs only in the London Treaty of 1930 in article 21. This treaty expired on December 31, 1936. Prior to its expiration ths "escalator clause," was invoked as to certain types of ships. By this action the total tonnage in those categories was increased by the treaty itself, which clearly brings this increase within the terms of the Vinson-Trammell Act.
Mr. THOM. Definitely, how much additional tonnage is allowed in the different categories?
Admiral LEAHY. That is shown in the table. The additional tonnage allowed is 20,270 tons of cruisers, category (b), 40,550 tons of destroyers, and 15,598 tons of submarines.
Mr. ÚMSTEAD. Proceed, Admiral.
REPLACEMENT OF AIRCRAFT
Admiral LEAHY. The replacement of aircraft is as important as the replacement of combatant ships and must keep abreast the obsolescence of planes in order to maintain naval aviation at its present high standard of efficiency. The aircraft program, based on the Vinson-Trammell Act authorization, is progressing satisfactorily.
ADDITIONS AND IMPROVEMENTS TO SHORE STATIONS
Under "Additions and Improvements to Shore Stations,” the public works requested for naval personnel at Coco Solo, Canal Zone, are urgently needed, as the conditions under which naval personnel not housed in Government quarters must live are deplorable. The public works contemplated at the Naval Air Station, Alameda, and at Pearl Harbor are essential for the proper support of the fleet in the Pacific. The necessary development and expansion of shore facilities which will ultimately be required for the operation of fleet aircraft have not kept abreast of the increase in the number of aircraft included in the aircraft program.
The congestion caused at San Diego by the lack of sufficient airoperating space is serious but will have little relief until the naval air station at Alameda can be put in commission. The overhaul facilities on the west coast are still inadequate to meet the requirements, with the result that several hundred aircraft are ferried to eastcoast overhaul bases annually for overhaul, which is, of course, an uneconomical procedure.
NAVAL AIR STATION AT ALAMEDA, CALIF.
Mr. UMSTEAD. Admiral, will the construction of the Alameda station relieve the situation just described by you?
Admiral LEAHY. The construction of the Alameda station will relieve the situation now existing and will meet the visible needs
of the fleet aircraft in the Pacific in the future so far as we can see.
A most important public-works item is the rehabilitation of the raval torpedo station at Alexandria, Va. The naval torpedo station at Newport cannot be expanded and is incapable of manufacturing all the torpedoes required for ships and aircraft in existence and under construction. It is incapable of building up the necessary supply of torpedoes and of modernizing obsolete torpedoes, in spite of the present employment of three shifts a day.
I consider it important to refer briefly to two matters which though not subject to consideration in connection with the present patimates, are essential in connection with the needs of the Navy.
One of these is the second increment in the program of replace ment of auxiliary vessels. The general board has recommended, and the Secretary of the Navy has approved the recommendation, that this second increment should include one mine layer, one oiler, one small seaplane tender, one mine sweeper, one tug, and two submarine chasers. If approved by the Bureau of the Budget, the Department will submit the draft of a bill to authorize the construction of these vessels. All are urgently needed to replace overage vessels. The bill will also include two coastal motorboats for the development of a type needed in local defense forces.
The other is the modernization of the two aircraft carriers Lex ington and Saratoga, which project requires congressional authoriza tion. This necessary work has been recommended by the general board, approved by the Secretary of the Navy, passed by the Bureau of the Budget, and is now before the Congress for the required authorization.
AIRCRAFT CARRIERS “LEXINGTON” AND “SARATOGA"
Mr. UMSTEAD. Admiral, just what is the nature of the work that you plan to do on the Lerington and Saratoga, and what is the esti mated cost per vessel!
Admiral LEAHY. The work contemplated on the Lexington and Saratoga is designed to make these ships into first-class modern air. plane carriers The details, insofar as I have them here, are the installation of blisters, which will bring the ship higher out of the water. give her a better armor protection, and compensate in some way for additional weights that have gone in the ship, widening the flight decks, and the installation of a forward arresting gear on the Saratoga. Modern aircraft have developed a speed which necessitates changes in the flight deck in order that we may be able to handle these faster ships. It is desired also to enlarge the after elevator and speed up both elevators on the ships.
That is maile necessary by an increase in the size of the planes which are now being carried by carriers and which were smaller at the time the Lerington and Saratoga were converted into airplane carriers. Also there is an item of increaserd antiaircraft batteries and to improve these batteries, including the installation of a remote system of control. In view of the high value of these two ships to the fleet, it has been decided that an installation of the latest antiaircraft defense is necessary. Another item is compartmentation and damage-control arrangements, including methods of defense against gas attacks which the ships now have not. These alterations
are the principal ones which are considered necessary to make these ships into the best carriers that we can construct with the ships now in existence.
Mr. THOM. Have these items that you propose to incorporate on the Lexington and Saratoga been taken advantage of in the new aircraft carriers ?
Admiral LEAHY. Those that are suitable have been incorporated in the new aircraft carriers. Some of them are not necessary in the new carriers, because the Lexington and the Saratoga, as you know, are converted cruisers. Mr. UMSTEAD. What is the estimated cost per vessel, Admiral ?
Admiral LEAHY. That can be given definitely by the material bureaus. I think it is about $7,000,000 for each ship.
Mr. ScrUGHAM. What is the object of putting blisters on a ship? Is it for the purpose of torpedo defense ?
Admiral LEAHY. It is partly for torpedo defense and partly to raise the ship out of the water bringing its armor up higher and giving it better armor protection.
COST OF MODERN AIRCRAFT CARRIERS
Mr. UMSTEAD. Admiral, what was the cost of the latest aircraft carrier which the Navy has built ?
Admiral LEAHY. The cost of the Ranger, a 14,500-ton carrier, is in round numbers $21,000,000. The Enterprise and Yorktown, each 19,900-ton carriers, will cost when completed approximately $28,500,000 each.
Mr. UMSTEAD. Considering the fact that the Lexington and the Saratoga were converted ships to start with, and also the fact that they already have considerable age, is it the judgment of the Navy that it is wise to remodel or reconstruct them rather than meet the need by new construction when it has to be met ?
Admiral LEAHY. I am informed by the material bureaus concerned in modernization, and by the Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics, that the remodeled Saratoga and Lexington will be, in some respects, better than any carrier that is now permitted under our treaty agreements, and will be, in all other respects, practically as good as a new carrier.
Mr. UMSTEAD. How old are they?
Admiral LEAHY. Well, they would, under the treaty provision, be over age in about 10 years, but when modernized they will be useful for many more years.
Mr. Thom. From when do you count their age, from the time they were changed into aircraft carriers or from the time of the laying of their keels as cruisers ?
Admiral LEAHY. From the date of their commissioning, which is the date they were commissioned as airplane carriers. They were never commissioned as cruisers.
MATERIAL CONDITION OF FORCES AFLOAT
The material condition of the forces afloat is described briefly by types in the following paragraphs:
The material condition of the battleships is satisfactory so far as repair and upkeep are concerned, although they are rapidly approaching obsolescence and their age requires increasingly larger expenditures for repairs in order to keep them in an effective operating condition. All of our battleships are more than 16 years old and five of them have had no modernization. Seven are more than 20 years oid, one other becomes more than 20 years old in December 1937, and five more become 20 years old before 1942, so that under the Vinson-Trammell Act it would be legal to lay down 13 battleships; that is, the two already appropriated for, the two requested in these estimates, and nine additional ships.
On the basis of becoming over age at 26 years, the following is the situation: 1 vessel becomes over age in 1938; 2 vessels become over age in 1940; 4 vessels become over age in 1942.
On the same basis, we could have laid down or could lay down replacement battleships as follows: 1 vessel in 1935, 2 vessels in 1937, 4 vessels in 1939.
The two battleships already appropriated for, therefore, take care of the vessel that could have been laid down in 1935 and one of those that could have been laid down in 1937; the battleships requested in these estimates are well within the number of those remaining that could be laid down through 1939 as replacement vessels without increasing the number of under-age battleships under the recent London Treaty of 1936. The Navy Department has been directed by the President to proceed with the construction of the two capital ship replacements provided for in the 1937 appropriation bill.
A small number of the outstanding alterations necessary for battle efficiency have been accomplished during the past year, including some improvements in water-tight integrity. Most of the approved damage-control alterations remain uncompleted due to lack of funds. The outstanding deficiencies are:
Obsolete antiaircraft batteries and insufficient elevation of turret guns in the New York and Texas;
Obsolete main propelling machinery in the Oklahoma, New York, and Texas;
The California, Tennessee, Colorado, Maryland, and West Virginia need modernization of fire control, propelling machinery, increased armor protection, and installation of blisters.
The Navy Department is endeavoring to economize on expenditures for modernization of battleships so far as is practicable with the purpose of obtaining replacements of over-age vessels. It must be borne in mind that the fighting power of an old battleship, even though modernized, is far below that of a new battleship. Older vessels must be kept up to date, but in spite of all the work and cost connected with modernization, their effectiveness cannot be made that