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CHIPS Articles: Naval Academy Celebrates 175 Years in 2020

Naval Academy Celebrates 175 Years in 2020
By U.S. Naval Academy Public Affairs - January-March 2020
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (NNS) -- This year commemorates 175 years of leadership, service, and tradition at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

“One of our most treasured traditions is our friendship with the great city of Annapolis and our home state of Maryland,” said 63rd Superintendent Vice Adm. Sean Buck. “Over the years we’ve built a phenomenal relationship with our surrounding community and are grateful to the people of Annapolis and the state of Maryland for embracing the Academy and our midshipmen.”

Today Maryland Governor Larry Hogan will present the Naval Academy with a citation to kick off the year-long anniversary, and additional events and acknowledgements will occur throughout 2020.

“The Naval School” was established by then-Secretary of the Navy George Bancroft on a 10-acre Army post in Annapolis called Fort Severn on Oct. 10, 1845. There were initially only 50 students and seven faculty members; the curriculum included mathematics and navigation, gunnery and steam propulsion, chemistry, English, natural philosophy, and French.

In 1850 the Naval School became the United States Naval Academy. A new curriculum went into effect requiring midshipmen to study at the Academy for four years and to train aboard ships each summer. That format is the basis of a far more advanced and sophisticated curriculum at the Naval Academy today.

As the U.S. Navy grew over the years, the Academy expanded. The campus of 10 acres increased to 338. The original student body of 50 midshipmen grew to a brigade size of nearly 4,400, and from seven faculty to more than 1,200 faculty, staff, and coaches. Modern granite buildings replaced the old wooden structures of Fort Severn.

Since then, the development of the United States Naval Academy has reflected the history of the country. As America has changed culturally and technologically so has the Naval Academy. In 1949, Wesley A. Brown became the first African-American graduate; the class of 1980 was the first class to graduate women. The class of 2023 included 312 women (26 percent) and a total of 471 minority midshipmen (40 percent) on Induction Day.

“We’ve come a long way as an institution in 175 years,” said Buck. “We’re very proud of our efforts to become a more diverse and inclusive institution that reflects the diversity of our great country and our communities – the people our midshipmen will serve in the Fleet.”

In just a few decades, the Navy moved from a fleet of sail and steam-powered ships to a high-tech fleet with nuclear-powered submarines and surface ships and supersonic aircraft. The academy has changed, too, giving midshipmen state-of- the-art academic and professional training they need to be effective naval officers in their future careers. Midshipmen study subjects such as cyber security; seamanship and navigation tactics; naval engineering; naval weapons; leadership, ethics and military law; and small arms and drill.

Follow USNA and the USNA Museum official social media platforms while we commemorate the 175-year history of the Naval Academy:

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (Jan. 30, 2020) First class midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy select their first ship on Ship Selection Night in Alumni Hall. As the undergraduate college of our country's naval service, the Naval Academy prepares young men and women to become professional officers of competence, character, and compassion in the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. (U.S. Navy photo by Kenneth D. Aston Jr/Released)
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