The United States Navy grew rapidly during World War II from 1941-1945, and played the central role in the war against Japan, and was a major player in the European war against Germany and Italy. The U.S. Navy grew into a formidable force in the years prior to World War II, with battleship production being restarted in 1937, commencing with the USS North Carolina. It was able to add to its fleets during the early years of the war while the US was still neutral, increasing production of vessels large and small, deploying a navy of nearly 350 major combatant ships by December 1941 and having an equal number under construction. This expansion was authorized with the Two-Ocean Navy Act, also known as the Vinson-Walsh Act, was a United States law enacted on July 19, 1940, and named for Carl Vinson and David I. Walsh, who chaired the Naval Affairs Committee in the House and Senate respectively. The largest naval procurement bill in U.S. history, it increased the size of the United States Navy by 70%.