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“1. In pursuance of the suggestion of the President of the United States, the plenipotentiary delegates of the President of the United States, His Britannic Majesty, and of His Majesty the Emperor of Japan, met at Geneva on June 20 to discuss the limitation of auxiliary naval craft.

2. Meetings have been held from that date until the 4 of August, during which period the delegates and their advisers have considered in detail various methods of effecting this object. On many important questions provisional agreements have been reached, certain of which are embodied in the annexed report of the technical committee of the conference. These points of agreement relate particularly to the limitation of destroyers and submarines, and it was only when the conference took up the question of the limitation of cruiser class that difficulties were encountered. These difficulties proved to be of a character to render it desirable to adjourn the present negotiations until respective governments have had an opportunity to give further consideration to the problem and to the various methods which have been suggested for its solution.

3. The American delegates presented the view that within total tonnage limitations, (which they] initially suggested should be between 250,000 and 300,000 tons in the cruiser class for the United States and the British Empire and between 150,000 and 180,000 tons for Japan, each of the powers should have liberty to build the number and the type of vessel which they might consider best suited to their respective national needs, with freedom, subject to limitation of the Washington Treaty, to arm these vessels as they saw fit.

4. The British delegates, whilst putting proposals tending to a limitation of the size of vessels of all classes, have opposed the principle of limitation by total tonnage alone on the ground that the largest [larger] ship and the heaviest gun permissible must inevitably become the standard. They desired first a strict limitation of the number of 10,000 [-ton] 8 inch gun cruisers, and secondly the establishment of a secondary type of cruiser of a maximum [displacement of 6,000 tons, carrying guns of a maximum] calibre of 6 inches. The British delegates contended that_the establishment of this type (would) alone enable the British Empire, within a moderate figure of total tonnage, to attain the numbers which it regards as indispensable to meet its special circumstances and its special needs.

5. The Japanese delegates presented the view that low total tonnage levels should be fixed which would effect a real limitation of auxiliary naval vessels. As for the question of the 8 inch gun cruisers, while the Japanese Government could not agree to any restriction as a matter of principle, they had no difficulty in declaring that, provided a tonnage level of 315,000 tons for auxiliary surface vessels were fixed for Japan they would not build any further 8 inch gun cruisers until 1936, except those already authorized in existing programs.

6. Various methods were considered of reconciling the divergent views indicated above but, while material progress has been made and the points of divergence reduced, no mutually acceptable plan has been found to reconcile the claim of the British delegates for numbers of vessels, for the most part armed with 6 inch guns, with the desire of the American delegates for the lowest possible total tonnage limi


tation with freedom of armament within such limitation, subject to the restriction as to armament already set by the Washington Treaty.

7. Faced with this difficulty, the delegates have deemed it wise to adjourn the present conference with this frank statement of their respective views, and to submit the problem for the further consideration of their governments, in the hope that consultation between them may lead to an early solution.

8. Further, the delegates agree to recommend to their respective governments the desirability of arranging between the signatories of the Washington Treaty that the conference to be called pursuant to paragraph 2 of Article 4 [21] of that Treaty should be held earlier than August 1931, the date contemplated under the terms of that instrument, in order that any decision reached by such a conference may come into force before the capital ship construction program commences, namely in November of that year.

9. In making these recommendations and in submitting this statement of the points of agreement as well as of the points on which agreement has not yet been achieved, the delegates desire to place on record a statement of their conviction that the obstacles that have been encountered should not be accepted as terminating the effort to bring about a further limitation of naval armament. On the contrary, they trust that the measure of agreement which has been reached, as well as the work which has been done in clarifying their respective positions, will make it possible after consultation between the governments to find a basis for reconciling divergent views and lead to the early conclusion of an agreement for the limitation of auxiliary naval vessels which will permit of substantial economy and, while safeguarding national security, promote the feeling of mutual confidence and good understanding.'


500.A15 a 1/545a : Telegram

The Secretary of State to President Coolidge

WASHINGTON, August 4, 1927. I gave the following statement to the Press this morning concerning the final session of the Conference:

"I regret of course that the Geneva Conference did not succeed in making an agreement for limitation of naval armament. The Conference was suggested by the President in the hope that he could accomplish a real reduction in building programs. He also believed if the three great naval powers could succeed in such limitation it would prevent competitive building, lift enormous burdens from the countries involved, and be a great moral example to the world. We believed that there was no condition today which could threaten the security of the powers interested or justify increased building programs. It was found impossible to get an agreement either to reduce naval armament or to límit it within what we considered reasonable bounds. What was sought was to extend the principles of the Washington treaty to other naval auxiliary craft. This was found impossible without greatly enhancing a cruiser building program, which we thought neither necessary nor wise. I do not think the United States can afford to give its moral approval to such an expansion with all it implies. We proposed as a maximum 300,000 tons of cruisers and were not prepared to increase this by 126,000 tons and probably more in order to make a treaty. Pursuant to the Washington treaty, the United States made drastic cuts in its capital ship program and scrapped the largest capital ship navy in the world. It made greater sacrifices than any other country; in fact it scrapped 780,000 tons of capital ships. It had every reason to believe that the British government was prepared to carry out a real reduction and our delegates labored earnestly and conscientiously along these lines. Japan was anxious to go even lower than the maximum set by the United States. I do not believe, however, that the general discussions which have taken place at Geneva will be fruitless and I am certain that the failure at this time to enter into an agreement will not impair the cordial relations existing between the British Government and the United States. I do not consider the failure to make an agreement now as final; and I am confident that the work done at Geneva will make it possible after consultation between the governments to find a basis for reconciling the divergent views and lead to the early conclusion of an agreement for the limitation of auxiliary naval vessels."


500.A 15 a 1/555

Memorandum by the Secretary of State

(WASHINGTON,] August 5, 1927. The Japanese Ambassador called on me today and wished to know if I had any news from Geneva of which I wished to inform him. I told him that we were very much pleased with the attitude of the Japanese Delegation and congratulated them on their work there. That there had been no trouble to agree with Japan but that we could not agree to such an enlarged building program as the British government wanted. That the lowest proposition they made would permit them to build at least 426,000 tons of cruisers and even more if they did not build up to what they wished in submarines and destroyers. They said they wanted 90,000 tons of submarines and 221,000 tons of destroyers. This would leave 426,000 tons for cruisers and even more if they should not build up in the other two classes. We could not agree to any such program. We thought the maximum proposed by us of 300,000 tons was adequate. We could not understand that there was any danger to British commerce or foreign possessions, since the only navies in the world amounting to anything were the Japanese, the British and the United States. That if they had accepted 300,000 tons and allowed us to build the same number of 10,000 ton cruisers and 9,800 ton cruisers as Great Britain had, with the cruisers we had already there would only be 60,000 tons to build and there probably would not have been any trouble to agree on what size they should be. He said his government was very anxious not to have a big building program and wanted to know if we would have a big one. I told him I had no expectation of it, but of course I could not tell. He said he had seen in the papers that the President was going to call another conference. I told him I had seen the President's press statement this morning which stated that he had no expectation of calling another conference before 1929, and as he would go out of office in March, 1929, there seemed to be little possibility of it, but said I did not wish to make any statement that would bar him if he should wish to do so. I told the Ambassador that I had no intimation from the President that he wished to do so. I asked him if the Japanese Delegation was coming back this way and he said that he hoped they would but he was not sure. This was about the substance of what he said.


500.A15 a 1/573a
The Secretary of State to President Coolidge

WASHINGTON, August 10, 1927. MY DEAR MR. PRESIDENT: I suppose with the telegrams that we received from Geneva and instructions we gave, together with the report which the Secretary of the Navy made to you, you are well informed on what took place at Geneva and the reason for the failure of the Conference. While the British Government assured Mr. Houghton they were perfectly willing for the United States to have parity on all classes of ships, Bridgeman did not make this offer in Geneva at all until he was instructed by London and even in that case I am assured by one of the press men who was present that when he was asked the question as to whether Great Britain was willing to make a treaty for parity in ships other than the 10,000 ton class, he said "Well, we would have to consider that”. Undoubtedly he went there intending not to grant it and every proposition there made was intended to deprive the United States of an equal, effective navy. ... It became more and more evident that the only possible way to have a treaty with Great Britain on this subject was to agree to a total tonnage beyond all reason and one which would not be a limitation but an expansion. Furthermore, the Navy insists that we do not want small cruisers and to agree to build them would give the British a superiority owing to her naval bases and make it impossible for us to have as effective a navy as Great Britain. The lowest possible limit which Great Britain proposed was 426,000 tons of cruisers which might be increased by building fewer destroyers and submarines. In


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other words, they proposed the global or total tonnage system which they had opposed strenuously at the Preliminary Conference. This would give them the right to build cruisers in tonnage not built in the other classes. Of course, the New York World and the Times have frequently suggested that there should have been diplomatic correspondence preceding the Conference so that each country would have known exactly what the other country was willing to agree to. If that could have been done, no Conference would have been necessary. Of course, there is no ground for this except the statements of the Times and the World and Vice President Dawes' speech. . . . The most careful preparations were made, as you know. The British Government was sounded out and a letter from Jones states that the British went back on everything they had agreed to with him in London. We had every assurance from the British Government that they desired an agreement on equal terms with the United States and any such tonnage as they proposed was far beyond any suggestions they had ever made and beyond the tentative understanding made at the Washington Conference.

Of course, I did everything in my power to make some agreement but I could not recommend an agreement that did not give us parity in fact as well as in principle or that would provide for an enormous expansion in cruiser building. Any such tonnage as was demanded by the British Government was absolutely uncalled for and unnecessary. We demonstrated to them that there was not over two hundred thousand tons of cruisers in all the rest of the world outside the United States and Japan; that there could be no possible threat to the British Government, her commerce or her possessions. Either the British Navy has gone mad or Great Britain has felt compelled to continue ship building to furnish employment. Perhaps both had something to do with it. I, of course, regret the outcome but I do not see how we could have prevented it. Personally I think it would have been perfectly simple to have entered into an agreement for a building program prior to 1931 on the following bases: that Great Britain should not build any additional ships beyond those already laid down; that the United States would not build more 10,000 ton ships than Great Britain has built or is building. This, of course, to include the 9800 ton ships, four of which Great Britain has. This is all we could build or could reasonably expect to build between now and 1931 but if we did desire to build more than this, we should build the smaller size cruisers. As near as I can find out from the Navy, they do not think there is any possibility of our building more before that time. Great Britain did not agree to this. Apparently she did not intend to

*At Buffalo, N. Y., on the occasion of the dedication of the International Peace Bridge, Aug. 7, 1927.

* Letter not found in Department files.

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