Sea Power and Sea Law

January 15, 1929

Report Outline
The United States and the Law of the Sea
Sea Law and the World War
The Law of the Sea and Cruiser Limitation
Neutral Rights the League Covenant. And the Kellogg Pact

At the final session of the Sixty-sixth Congress, during the closing months of the Wilson administration, Senator Borah offered a resolution urging the President to invite Great Britain and Japan to a conference for the purpose of “promptly entering into an understanding or agreement” by which naval expenditures might be reduced. The resolution won wide public support. It was reoffered at the first (special) session of the Sixty-seventh Congress and was approved by both houses as an amendment to the naval appropriation bill. The bill was signed by President Harding July 12, 1921, and on August 11, invitations were issued to the Washington Conference on Limitation of Armaments.

The Washington Conference was the most successful of its kind in the history of the world, but a second naval conference, initiated by the United States in 1927, for the purpose of applying limitations to those classes of war vessels not covered by the Washington treaty, resulted in failure. At the next meeting of Congress—following the submission by the administration of a $740,000,000 naval building program—a new resolution touching naval armaments was offered by Senator Borah. This resolution looked to the summoning of a conference of the great naval powers to restate the law governing neutrals and belligerents at sea in time of war. The resolution attracted little public attention at the time it was offered, although it was believed by Senator Borah to hold the key to any further reduction or limitation of naval armaments.

Call for Restatement of Rules of War at Sea

The preamble to the Borah resolution recalled that the rules of the sea in time of war, as understood prior to 1914, were “in important respects departed from during the late war,” and stated that “the present chaotic state of maritime law—leaving the seas subject to no definite rules save that of force and commerce to no ultimate protection save that of battle fleets—constitutes an incentive for great naval armaments,” The essential clauses that followed have now been offered as an amendment to the cruiser construction bill pending in the Senate. They declare;

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Aquaculture and Maritime Policy
Oct. 2007  Oceans in Crisis
Jul. 27, 2007  Fish Farming
Nov. 04, 2005  Saving the Oceans
Aug. 02, 2002  Threatened Fisheries
Sep. 27, 1985  Whaling: End of an Era
Jul. 16, 1982  Troubled Maritime Industry
Jun. 07, 1974  Oceanic Law
Sep. 29, 1965  National Maritime Policy
Sep. 04, 1963  Fishing Rights and Territorial Waters
Oct. 05, 1955  Territorial Waters and the High Seas
Jul. 21, 1954  Plight of the Maritime Industry
Jul. 10, 1935  Merchant Marine Policy of the United States
Jan. 15, 1929  Sea Power and Sea Law
Jul. 24, 1928  Government Aid to the Merchant Marine
Oct. 17, 1925  The Merchant Marine Problem
Apr. 26, 1924  The New Merchant Marine Situation
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Defense Technology and Force Planning
International Law and Agreements
Water Transportation and Safety