- Letter Writer
- History - Between the wars, Letter to the Editor
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- June 2007 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
The article ‘Singapore Naval Base Origin and Evolution’ published in the March 2007 issue of the Naval Historical Review contains a number of issues that warrant clarification.
The statement that ‘The Royal Navy wanted to build its own new class of 16” gunned capital ships (Nelson and Rodney)’ is misleading. Prior to the Washington Conference the RN had ordered four 16” gunned battlecruisers significantly larger than the Nelson and Rodney, and was planning a follow-on class of similarly sized 18” gunned battleships. The smaller design for the Nelson and Rodney was created after the Washington Conference as a result of the restrictions imposed by the Washington Treaty, and would never have been considered had it not been for that Treaty.
It is also somewhat misleading to say that New Zealand was represented in their own right at the Washington Conference. New Zealand (like Australia) wasn’t even invited to the Conference, and the Dominion representatives attended only as a members of a combined ‘British Empire Delegation’
The tonnages quoted in the article (500,000 tons for the US and UK, and 300,000 tons for Japan) were the original tonnages proposed by the US delegation, however in the final Treaty, these were modified to 525,000 and 315,000 tons respectively. This was because the original values were not evenly divisible by 35,000 tons (the maximum size allowed for new Capital Ships under the Treaty), and this would have left each of the signatories with unusable ‘left-over’ tonnage if they built all their ships to the maximum permitted size.
The prohibition of fortifications through much of the Pacific Ocean was not part of the four-power Treaty. This prohibition was part of the Five-Power Naval Limitation Treaty and was unrelated to the termination of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance. The fortifications prohibition was implemented in order to induce the Japanese to accept a 60% capital ship ratio (vis-a-vis the US and the UK), as opposed to the 70% ratio that they had been insisting on. If Britain and the US were prevented from creating secure bases in Hong Kong, the Philippines and Guam, it was believed that the 60% ratio would be sufficient to provide the Japanese with a satisfactory level of security against foreign aggression in their home waters.
The three Queen Elizabeth class battleships which received extensive reconstructions in the late 1930s were Queen Elizabeth, Valiant and, to a lesser extent, Warspite. Malaya did not receive an extensive reconstruction.
Lt Cdr, RNZN (retired)