On October 13, 1775, the US Navy was founded. The US Navy was established by the Continental Congress at the onset of the War of Independence to engage the British navy. It is the second oldest US military branch of service, second only to the US Army.
As the US Navy birthday draws near, here are five facts to remember as you prepare to celebrate.
US Navy Birthday Fact 1
Our first US Navy birthday fact isn’t some salty sea tale; it is a fact. The US Navy is the largest navy in the world. According to the US Navy, it has more than 330,000 active-duty personnel with an additional 60,000 on ready reserve. Now, China can claim that they have more ships, but they are mostly smaller ships with less capability, that’s why USAMM thinks the US Navy is bigger and more badass. US Navy ships comprise a powerful arsenal that project American power and lethality in oceans around the world. The Navy has a fleet of more than 280 ships. Its fleet consists of aircraft carriers, cruisers, amphibious assault ships, littoral combat ships, destroyers and submarines.
US Navy Birthday Fact 2
USAMM’s second US Navy birthday fact is a source of pride for the US Navy. Did you know that six US presidents served in the US Navy before they became president of the United States? John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush are all old salts and Carter attended the US Naval Academy.
US Navy Birthday Fact 3
Our third US Navy birthday factoid is that the US Navy has seven fleets that comprise the US Navy. The US Navy has the 2nd Fleet, 3rd Fleet, 4th Fleet, 5th Fleet, 6th Fleet, 7th Fleet and 10th Fleet. Clearly, if you’re looking at it sequentially in numerical order, there are some numbered fleets missing. That is because some numbered fleets have been deactivated or merged with other fleets.
US Navy Birthday Fact 4
The fourth US Navy birthday fact that many people don’t know is that the US Navy names ships according to guidelines it developed long ago. Since 1819, the Secretary of the Navy has had the responsibility of naming ships.
Of course, there are exceptions made in every class of ships that are named, but generally the naming criteria is as follows: aircraft carriers are named after presidents; dry cargo ships are named after famous explorers or pioneers; cruisers and destroyers are named after Americans cities or heroes; submarines are named after US cities or states; amphibious assault ships carry legacy names or are named after famous World War II battles; littoral combat ships are named for the concepts of freedom, independence, and for cities and communities; amphibious transport ships are named after US cities; to name a few.
US Navy Birthday Fact 5
This US Navy birthday fact is rarely talked about. There have been two US Navies, one formed on October 13, 1775, and another formed in 1794. Remember, the Continental Congress purchased two armed ships to attack British vessels in the American Revolution, but after the war ended in 1783, the Continental Navy was disbanded and its remaining ships were sold. Navy sailors and officers returned to civilian life. Not long after the cessation of hostilities, America began facing threats on the open seas, mostly from pirates and opportunists hoping to take advantage of unprotected ships. This prompted the nascent US government to defend its fleet of commerce ships and the US Congress reestablished the US Navy. President George Washington signed the Naval Act of 1794 creating a permanent standing US Navy that has existed ever since. Eventually the Department of the Navy was created in 1798.
US Navy Birthday Bonus Fact
This US Navy birthday fact is something many don’t even realize. The US Marine Corps is an independent branch of service, but it is also a part of the Department of the Navy. But did you know that another branch of service is also (sometimes) under Navy command and control? The US Coast Guard, when mobilized to support the US Navy, also is an independent branch of service that is ordinarily under the command and control of the Department of Homeland Security. However, when elements of the Coast Guard are mobilized to support the US Navy, they fall under the Department of the Navy during that period of operations. That makes the US Navy the only branch of service with control over two separate branches of service.
The US Navy birthday is a day to celebrate not only because of the Navy’s rich history, but it is an opportunity to reflect on the many brave men and women who devoted their lives to the defense of this country and to projecting American will, firepower and ideals around the world.
USAMM encourages everyone to reach out to local veterans’ service organizations and see if they are hosting any events to honor the US Navy birthday. US Navy birthday celebrations are not just a lot of fun, but they are full of Navy history and traditions, and the best part is that attendees can interact with current Navy sailors or Navy veterans, both of which are living history.