Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Destroyers for Bases Agreement
The Destroyers for Bases Agreement between the United States and the United Kingdom, September 2, 1940, transferred 50 obsolete destroyers from the United States Navy in exchange for land rights on British possessions. The destroyers became the Town class.
For the United Kingdom, the Second World War started in September 1939 and after the brief non-events of the Phony War, the Battle of France saw France and the Low Countries overrun with Nazi German Blitzkrieg. This left the United Kingdom and her Empire standing alone against Hitler.
The United States was sympathetic to the British cause, though they officially following the policy of isolationism, and were constrained by elections. The British were in immediate need of ships; they took long to build and were now facing the Second Battle of the Atlantic in which German U-boats threatened Britain's supplies of food and other resources.
In exchange for "naval and military equipment and material" the US was granted land for the establishment of naval or air bases, on 99-year rent-free leases, on:
- Avalon Peninsula
- South and eastern coasts of Newfoundland
- Great Bay of Bermuda
- Eastern side of the Bahamas
- Southern coast of Jamaica
- Western coast of St. Lucia,
- West coast of Trinidad
- Gulf of Paria,
- Antigua — Antigua Air Station
- British Guiana within fifty miles of Georgetown.
The US were allowed all the rights, power, and authority within the bases leased.
The US accepted the "generous action… to enhance the national security of the United States" and immediately transferred fifty United States Navy destroyers "generally referred to as the twelve hundred-ton type." Forty-three went to the Royal Navy and seven to the Royal Canadian Navy. Ships were transferred on from the Royal Navy to the Royal Netherlands Navy, the Royal Norwegian Navy and the Soviet Navy.
In the Commonwealth navies the ships were named after towns, and were therefore known as the Town class, although they had originally belonged to three ship classes (the Caldwell , Clemson, and Wickes classes).
The move was seen as the selling of part of the Empire, and some in the United States were particularly worried about overseas imperialism.
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