It was 1775, in the dawning days of a nation, when early American leaders foresaw the importance of a fighting force at sea. On Oct. 13 of that year, George Washington commissioned a small fleet to intercept British supply ships off the coast of Massachusetts. The Continental Congress then approved two additional armed vessels, and the U.S. Navy was born.
Once Small Fleet has Grown to Massive Force
Since its beginning, the Navy has excelled at its mission of winning wars, deterring aggression and maintaining freedom of the seas. As the threats against America and the world evolve, the role of the Navy grows ever more diverse.
Today’s U.S. Navy rules the high seas with 284 ships and submarines at its disposal, ready to strike at close range or from thousands of miles away.
While the Navy boasts the world’s most daunting arsenal of high-tech facilities and weaponry afloat, equally impressive are the sailors on board. Today the Navy has more than 326,000 active duty personnel who are highly trained to perform specialized and often dangerous tasks, adapted to succeed on the open ocean. The Navy has elite teams of every description, like the famed Navy divers who can repair damaged ships or disarm explosives in scuba gear; and the “Navy Nukes,” the experienced engineers who manipulate nuclear energy to power floating cities, such as nuclear-powered aircraft carriers.
But as most military members know, recent decades have seen the lines between service branches increasingly overlap.
Floating and Flying
Not to be confined to the water, the Navy’s aviation arm has been flying for more than 100 years, amplifying America’s military power through the lethal combination of air-at-sea capabilities.
Ironically, some of the Navy’s most recognized branches are made up of aviators, like the United States Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor program, better known as TOPGUN; or the iconic Blue Angels flight demonstration team, which has dazzled crowds with stunning aerial acrobatics since 1946.
On Any Surface
If sailors can fly, they can also tread on land. Since World War II, for example, the Seabees Construction Battalion has built military bases, airfields, hospitals and schools, and laid thousands of miles of roadway to enable our troops and render humanitarian aid worldwide.
And no tribute to Naval excellence would be complete without mentioning the Navy SEALs (Sea, Air and Land teams). Famous for their intense training and tactical expertise, the SEALs have conducted critical missions to secure U.S. interests and sow the seeds of freedom everywhere. It was the storied SEAL Team 6 that, in May 2011, raided a terrorist compound in Pakistan, came face-to-face with terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, and avenged the deaths of nearly 3,000 Americans, almost 10 years earlier.
Inevitably, new enemies will emerge. And the Navy will adapt — with new technology, new capabilities and new generations of dedicated sailors who will stop at nothing to defend America. We recognize the Navy Birthday today.