Navy Day

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United States Navy

The Chief of Naval Operations has stated that the Navy Birthday is one of the two Navy-wide dates to be celebrated annually. This page provides historical information on the birth and early years of the Navy.

The United States Navy traces its origins to the Continental Navy, which the Continental Congress established on 13 October 1775, by authorizing the procurement, fitting out, manning, and dispatch of two armed vessels to cruise in search of munitions ships supplying the British Army in America. The legislation also established a Naval Committee to supervise the work. All together, the Continental Navy numbered some fifty ships over the course of the war, with approximately twenty warships active at its maximum strength.

After the American War for Independence, Congress sold the surviving ships of the Continental Navy and released the seamen and officers. The Constitution of the United States ratified in 1789, empowered Congress “to provide and maintain a navy.” Acting on this authority, Congress ordered the construction and manning of six frigates in 1794, and the War Department administered naval affairs from that year until Congress established the Department of the Navy on 30 April 1798.

Not to be confused with the Navy Birthday or the founding of the Navy Department is Navy Day. The Navy League sponsored the first national observance of Navy Day in 1922 designed to give recognition to the naval service. The Navy League of New York proposed that the official observance be on 27 October in honor of President Theodore Roosevelt, who had been born on that day.

In 1972 Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt authorized recognition of 13 October as the Navy’s birthday. In contrast to Navy Day, the Navy Birthday is intended as an internal activity for members of the active forces and reserves, as well as retirees, and dependents. Since 1972 each CNO has encouraged a Navy-wide celebration of this occasion “to enhance a greater appreciation of our Navy heritage, and to provide a positive influence toward pride and professionalism in the naval service.”

Mission Statement

The mission of the Navy is to maintain, train and equip combat-ready Naval forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression and maintaining freedom of the seas.
Today, the U.S. Navy has the distinction of being the world’s premier naval power. Complete with the big ships that one would most commonly associate with it. But to really understand why there’s a need for a sea-based military organization in this day and age, just consider that:

70% of the earth is covered in water

80% of the planet’s population lives within close proximity to coastal areas

90% of global commerce is conducted by sea

Any way you look at it, supremacy on the waterways of the world will always be critical. And whether it’s by way of oceans, canals, rivers or littoral areas, there remains a great need for the Navy.

America’s Navy is unique in that it conducts missions on all fronts: in the air, on land and at sea. Fulfilling a broad role that encompasses everything from combat to peacekeeping to humanitarian assistance – in theater, on bases and everywhere from the cockpits of F-18’s to the control-rooms of nuclear submarines.

Wherever a military presence is needed, the Navy is there. Whenever a situation requires U.S. involvement, the Navy is often the first to deploy, the first to engage and the first to help. The Navy is always on call and standing by to serve and protect.
Among the seven uniformed services of the Unites States, America’s Navy holds the distinction of being the most multidimensional force serving the nation. Composed of highly specialized communities whose duties often extend beyond the sea, it does far more than meet the overwhelming task of carrying out Naval operations around the globe. It’s there to do a job no one else can do. And to offer the kind of support that often helps enable our other military forces to complete their missions – successfully and efficiently.

From everyday small feats to undeniably heroic efforts, the accomplishments and achievements of America’s Navy are vast and significant. Since its birth on October 13, 1775, the Navy has been involved with more than ten major wars and countless battles in the effort to bring security, democracy and prosperity to the American people and to the international community.

From the high-seas crusade against the tyranny of the British Navy to the fight for Cuba’s independence from Spain, see how American Sailors have shown their bravery for more than 230 years.

“The Navy of the future will have talented, competent and versatile Sailors who will be empowered to perform multiple tasks. We will be more agile, more capable and far more aware of what’s going on in all parts of the world.”

Adm. Gary Roughead

Former Chief of Naval Operations | Source: | The Naval History & Heritage Command