In accordance with the provisions of the Navy Appropriation Act of June 3, 1936, I have directed the Navy Department to proceed with the construction of two replacement capital ships. The keels of these ships may be laid in conformity with existing treaties at any time after January 1. Three of our battleships, the Arkansas, Texas and New York, will be more than twenty-six years old before these ships can be completed. If we are not to reduce our Navy by obsolescence, the replacement of capital ships can no longer be deferred.
The last Congress made an initial appropriation for "Two capital ships, as replacement of overage capital ships, to be undertaken only in event that the President determines as a fact that capital-ship-replacement construction is commenced by any of the other signatory powers to the Treaty for the Limitation and Reduction of Naval Armaments signed at London, April 22, 1930."
On July 29, 1936, Sir Samuel Hoare, First Lord of Admiralty announced that the orders for two battleships of the 1936 program had been let and stated:
"It is the intention that the keels should be laid at the earliest possible moment permitted by the Washington Naval Treaty; namely, in January, 1937. In order to achieve this object, it is essential to order the vessels now, and although complete specifications will not be available until October, there is sufficient information available to enable the contractors to prepare for laying down the keels in January next."On December 12, 1936, France laid the keel of the capital ship Jean Bart.
In addition to these three capital ships whose construction has been undertaken since the passage of the Navy Appropriation Act, eight others are under construction in the following countries: three in France, two in Italy and three in Germany.
Some time will elapse before bids can be obtained and contracts awarded and additional time will be required for contractors to assemble material before the keels of our two ships can be laid.