Upon the conclusion of the Washington Conference of 1922, the British representative Arthur Balfour stated “An absolute unmixed benefit to mankind, which carried no seeds of future misfortune” . Arthur Balfour History has shown how badly Arthur Balfour misjudged the naval arms race during the interwar period. The British and American navies evolved differently due to their national attitudes towards their economic interests, the effects of the Great Depression, and their difference of opinion on the separation of naval and army aviation.
United States and British differences of opinion and priorities on national interests forced each country to have a diverse outlook on naval priorities. British naval leaders inability to foresee a known adversary severely limited their budget. Whereas, US naval leaders faced with a similar constraint designed operational plans against an inevitable foe were able to maximize the limited resources available to them. The British naval leaders’ continued to overlook Germany as a viable adversary in Europe after World War I and the Treaty of Versailles. This failure from British naval leaders allowed for Germany to secretly reestablish their U-Boat fleet. Another failure of from the British naval leaders was their inability to adapt to the change of naval warfare and focused on reliving future Battle of Jutland.
Contrastingly US leaders looked to expand American influence into the Pacific, which was met with open hostilities from the Japanese navy. With US military presence forward in Guam and the Philippians threatened Japanese dominance in the Pacific. This foreseeable future confrontation between US and Japanese forces lead to development of War Plan Orange in 1920. Further tensions were illustrated during the Washington Treaty to limit the naval arms race between the world’s five largest navies. The Japanese Navy Minister Kato Tomosaburo negotiated to limit US defensive presence in the Pacific with the stipulation that the Japanese would limit their capital ship ratio of 60 percent or 3:5 compared to the US and British navy. Also, British naval leaders relied on US intervention ensure British colonies in the Pacific maintained open trade, thus allowing the British to utilize their limited resources more effectively in other areas. British leaders believed the next great naval battle would occur east of Singapore between the US and Japanese naval forces. This attitude allowed the British to focus on aviation innovations as opposed to naval.
Another difference between British and American naval forces was the emphasis on naval aviation, resulting in the British falling behind to the US in naval aviation innovation. British naval aviators were successfully against German U-Boats, resulting in 118 submarines attacked and over 30,000 flight hours just in 1918 . Even with the successful actions of naval aviation, British naval leaders were...