In an effort to curb British Sea Control, the Continental Congress established the Continental Navy, which later, on October 13, 1775, became the United States Navy. When the infant Navy was first formed, it consisted of just two armed vessels — tasked with disrupting munition ships supplying the British Army in America. Yet over the past nearly two and one-half centuries, our Navy has grown to become the largest, most advanced, and most lethal fighting force the world has ever known.
In 1972, the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, designated October 13 as the Navy’s offical birthday, and directed that it be commemorated so as to “enhance [the] appreciation of our Navy heritage” and reinforce “pride and professionalism in the Naval Service.”
In addition to this year marking the Navy’s 242nd birthday, it also marks several other historic milestones for the Navy, including the 100th anniversary of our entry into World War I and the 75th anniversaries of the Battle of Midway, of the WAVES, and of the Navy Seabees.
Sea Power: to Protect and Promote
The theme for the Navy’s 242nd Birthday is “Sea Power to Protect and Promote.” Our commemoration of the Navy’s birthday offers us an opportunity to honor the brave men and women who conduct a wide range of combat, training, humanitarian, rescue, and other missions worldwide, protecting the nation’s interests, promoting its security, and helping to shape our history and culture.
Since its earliest days, the U.S. Navy has deployed forward to deter our adversaries and to fight and win in the event deterrence fails. In today’s increasingly complex global security environment, the Navy continues to provide forward presence in areas where our nation’s interests are being challenged, including the Arabian Gulf, South and East China Seas, Red Sea, North Atlantic and beyond.
Roughly 90 percent of all world trade is conducted on the seas. With economic prosperity as the cornerstone of American security, the free flow of commerce on those seas is a critical component of our national defense. Deployed globally, the U.S. Navy has maintained and continues to uphold freedom of the seas, in order to provide for the unimpeded exchange of goods and to promote our values of freedom and liberty.
Finally, as our adversaries, both actual and potential, strive to match and outpace the capabilities of our fleet, it is imperative that our Navy continue to grow, develop, and innovate to maintain maritime superiority. A reflection on the Navy’s 242 years of sea power offers an ideal opportunity to strengthen our national resolve in that direction.
To learn more about our Navy's history, read the full article on All Hands Magazine's website at http://www.navy.mil/ah_online/navybirthday/index.html.