From its urgent beginning in 1775 to its current world power status, the U.S. Navy has certainly seen many changes in its 241 years. From providing sea protection to looking for modern-day pirates to leading highly-classified missions, the U.S. Navy has quite an impact both on the U.S. and globally. Many political figures started their careers by serving in the U.S. Navy, along with countless athletes, celebrities, musicians, but most importantly, our sons, daughters, fathers, and mothers.
Known as the Father of the United States, President George Washington is credited as the Father of the United States Navy. In September 1775, Washington sent out the first vessels on a mission, and in October 1775, the Continental Congress voted to send out 2 vessels on an official mission to intercept British supply ships which began the Continental Navy. However, due to financial hardships, the Continental Navy disbanded in 1785 and sold off ships for money, but in 1794, the Navy was reinstated with the purpose of fighting off pirates.
In April 1798, the Department of Navy was created as way to better manage the growing number of fleets, and in 1882, a shift began with the creation of modern warships. USS Holland became the first commissioned submarine in 1900, and USS Langley became the first commissioned aircraft carrier in 1922. When Japan bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the Navy experienced one of its darkest days, but redemption was given in 1945 when Japan surrendered World War II on the USS Missouri. Special groups within the U.S. Navy play a pivotal role including the Navy SEALs, created in 1962, and the United States Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor program (commonly known as TOPGUN), created in 1969. The U.S. Navy has an active role in current warfare, and during Operation Enduring Freedom in October 2001, a group of Navy Seals were the first ground troops during the invasion of Afghanistan.
As the second largest military branch, the U.S. Navy has many unique characteristics. The Navy also has two mottos- “Semper Fortis” (ever strong) and “Non Sibi Sed Patriae” (not for self but country). Presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and George H.W. Bush all served in the Navy, and Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt both served as the Assistant Secretary of the Navy. Unlike other military branches, African-Americans have always been permitted to serve in the Navy. Another interesting fact is submarine missions are composed of volunteers who have passed rigorous psychological and physical testing before being accepted.
On this Thursday, take time to honor the U.S. Navy as they celebrate their 241st birthday. Without the brave men and women serving in the U.S. Navy, our country would not be as strong as it is today.
The American Red Cross proudly serves the United States Navy and the rest of our Armed Forces today and every day. Learn more about our Service to the Armed Forces, here.