The position taken by the United States government in recent years with respect to the strength of the Navy it shall maintain is that it should have a Navy equal to that of the British Empire and stronger than Japan in the ratio of 5 to 3. This policy was first enunciated by Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes at the Washington Conference for Limiting Naval Armaments which met in 1921.
Although the Washington conference failed to bring about an all-inclusive warship limitation, the 5-5-3 ratio was cheerfully accepted by both the British and the Japanese.
Lord Balfour, speaking on behalf of the British Empire delegation at Washington, said, with reference to the American proposal to limit every type of warship according to the ratio:
We have considered it with admiration and approval. We agree with it in spirit and in principle. We look to it as being the basis of one of the greatest reforms in the matter of armaments and preparations for war that has ever been conceived or carried out by the courage and patriotism of statesmen…