International naval cooperation in interwar East Asia

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


The interwar period has long been characterised by historians as a time of friction between the Royal, US, and Imperial Japanese navies, as naval supremacy slowly shifted from the long-term incumbent to its challengers. Stephen Roskill set the tone with the very subtitle of his 1968 account ‘The Period of Anglo-American Antagonism’. Recent accounts have tempered discussion of rivalry between Britain and America, with Bell arguing that the jostling between the two represented power-play between friendly states, rather than any real or potential hostility. Much of that debate, however, has centred on interactions between the Admiralty and Department of the Navy. Likewise, discussion Japan’s dealings with other navies in the period has been framed by later imperial expansionism. Research into how mainstream officers and service personnel dealt with each-other is much thinner. Braisted mentions cooperation between British and American warships off the Chinese coast, for example, as part of his examination of the Asiatic Fleet’s interwar activities. This paper intends to bridge the water separating those two themes, of local and global interactions. To do so it will examine Britain’s China Station, America’s Asiatic Fleet, and the Imperial Japanese Navy, during their operations in East Asia. While the problems faced by the three powers were often identical, government policy frequently dictated different responses, providing fascinating case studies of how the navies dealt with contrasting priorities. Rather than discussing when and why the powers pursued similar or divergent top-level approaches, questions discussed by other historians, this paper will focus on how the navies actually related to each-other in practice.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 7 Apr 2018
EventBritish Commission for Maritime History: New Researchers in Maritime History - SS Great Britain, Bristol, United Kingdom
Duration: 6 Apr 20187 Apr 2018


ConferenceBritish Commission for Maritime History
Abbreviated titleBCMH NR
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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