🤩 Discover new information from across the web

United States Navy

Maritime warfare branch of the United States' military

Top 10 United States Navy related articles

United States Navy
Emblem of the United States Navy
Founded27 March 1794
(227 years, 2 months)
(As current service)

13 October 1775
(245 years, 7 months)
(As Continental Navy)[1]


Country  United States
TypeNavy
Role
Size347,042 active duty personnel (As of November 2020)[2]
279,471 civilian employees[3]
101,583 ready reserve personnel[3]
480 total ships, of which 290 deployable (As of 2019)[3]
3,900+[3] Dept. of Navy manned aircraft combined (U.S. Navy operates 2,623 manned aircraft and the U.S. Marine Corps operates 1,304 manned aircraft)[4]
Part ofUnited States Armed Forces
Department of the Navy
HeadquartersThe Pentagon
Arlington County, Virginia, U.S.
Motto(s)"Semper Fortis" (English: "Always Courageous"), (unofficial).
"Non sibi sed patriae" (English: "Not for self but for country") (unofficial).
ColorsBlue and gold[5][6]
   
March"Anchors Aweigh" Play 
Anniversaries13 October
EquipmentList of U.S. Navy equipment
Engagements
See list
Decorations

Presidential Unit Citation

Navy Unit Commendation

Meritorious Unit Commendation
Websitewww.navy.mil
Commanders
Commander-in-Chief President Joe Biden
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin
Secretary of the Navy Thomas Harker (acting)
Chief of Naval Operations ADM Michael M. Gilday
Vice Chief of Naval Operations ADM William K. Lescher
Master Chief Petty Officer of the NavyMCPON Russell L. Smith
Insignia
Flag
Jack
Pennant
Anchor, Constitution, and Eagle
Logo

The United States Navy (USN) is the maritime service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the eight uniformed services of the United States. It is the largest and most powerful navy in the world, with the estimated tonnage of its active battle fleet alone exceeding the next 13 navies combined, including 11 U.S. allies or partner nations as of 2015.[7][8][9][10] It has the highest combined battle fleet tonnage[11][7] and the world's largest aircraft carrier fleet, with eleven in service, two new carriers under construction, and five other carriers planned. With 336,978 personnel on active duty and 101,583 in the Ready Reserve, the U.S. Navy is the third largest of the U.S. military service branches in terms of personnel. It has 290 deployable combat vessels and more than 3,700 operational aircraft as of June 2019.[3]

The U.S. Navy traces its origins to the Continental Navy, which was established during the American Revolutionary War and was effectively disbanded as a separate entity shortly thereafter. After suffering significant loss of goods and personnel at the hands of the Barbary pirates from Algiers, the U.S. Congress passed the Naval Act of 1794 for the construction of six heavy frigates, the first ships of the U.S. Navy. The U.S. Navy played a major role in the American Civil War by blockading the Confederacy and seizing control of its rivers. It played the central role in the World War II defeat of Imperial Japan. The U.S. Navy emerged from World War II as the most powerful navy in the world. The 21st century U.S. Navy maintains a sizable global presence, deploying in strength in such areas as the Western Pacific, the Mediterranean, and the Indian Ocean. It is a blue-water navy with the ability to project force onto the littoral regions of the world, engage in forward deployments during peacetime and rapidly respond to regional crises, making it a frequent actor in U.S. foreign and military policy.

The U.S. Navy is part of the Department of the Navy, alongside the U.S. Marine Corps, which is its coequal sister service. The Department of the Navy is headed by the civilian Secretary of the Navy. The Department of the Navy is itself a military department of the Department of Defense, which is headed by the Secretary of Defense. The Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) is the most senior Navy officer serving in the Department of the Navy.[12]

United States Navy Intro articles: 142

Mission

To recruit, train, equip, and organize to deliver combat ready Naval forces to win conflicts and wars while maintaining security and deterrence through sustained forward presence.

— Mission statement of the United States Navy.[13]

The U.S. Navy is a seaborne branch of the military of the United States. The Navy's three primary areas of responsibility:[14]

  • The preparation of naval forces necessary for the effective prosecution of war.
  • The maintenance of naval aviation, including land-based naval aviation, air transport essential for naval operations, and all air weapons and air techniques involved in the operations and activities of the Navy.
  • The development of aircraft, weapons, tactics, technique, organization, and equipment of naval combat and service elements.

U.S. Navy training manuals state that the mission of the U.S. Armed Forces is "to be prepared to conduct prompt and sustained combat operations in support of the national interest." The Navy's five enduring functions are sea control, power projection, deterrence, maritime security, and sealift.[15]

United States Navy Mission articles: 2

History

Origins

It follows then as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious.

— George Washington 15 November 1781, to Marquis de Lafayette[16]

Would to Heaven we had a navy able to reform those enemies to mankind or crush them into non-existence.

— George Washington 15 August 1786, to Marquis de Lafayette[17]

Naval power . . . is the natural defense of the United States.

The Navy was rooted in the colonial seafaring tradition, which produced a large community of sailors, captains, and shipbuilders.[19] In the early stages of the American Revolutionary War, Massachusetts had its own Massachusetts Naval Militia. The rationale for establishing a national navy was debated in the Second Continental Congress. Supporters argued that a navy would protect shipping, defend the coast, and make it easier to seek support from foreign countries. Detractors countered that challenging the British Royal Navy, then the world's preeminent naval power, was a foolish undertaking. Commander in Chief George Washington resolved the debate when he commissioned the ocean-going schooner USS Hannah to interdict British merchantmen and reported the captures to the Congress. On 13 October 1775, the Continental Congress authorized the purchase of two vessels to be armed for a cruise against British merchantmen; this resolution created the Continental Navy and is considered the first establishment of the U.S. Navy.[20] The Continental Navy achieved mixed results; it was successful in a number of engagements and raided many British merchant vessels, but it lost twenty-four of its vessels[21] and at one point was reduced to two in active service.[22] In August 1785, after the Revolutionary War had drawn to a close, Congress had sold Alliance, the last ship remaining in the Continental Navy due to a lack of funds to maintain the ship or support a navy.[23][24]

In 1972, the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, authorized the Navy to celebrate its birthday on 13 October to honor the establishment of the Continental Navy in 1775.[25][20]

From re-establishment to the Civil War

The United States was without a navy for nearly a decade, a state of affairs that exposed U.S. maritime merchant ships to a series of attacks by the Barbary pirates. The sole armed maritime presence between 1790 and the launching of the U.S. Navy's first warships in 1797 was the U.S. Revenue-Marine, the primary predecessor of the U.S. Coast Guard. Although the USRCS (United States Revenue Cutter Service) conducted operations against the pirates, the pirates' depredations far outstripped its abilities and Congress passed the Naval Act of 1794 that established a permanent standing navy on 27 March 1794.[26] The Naval Act ordered the construction and manning of six frigates and, by October 1797,[21] the first three were brought into service: USS United States, USS Constellation, and USS Constitution. Due to his strong posture on having a strong standing Navy during this period, John Adams is "often called the father of the American Navy".[27] In 1798–99 the Navy was involved in an undeclared Quasi-War with France.[28] From 1801 to 1805, in the First Barbary War, the U.S. Navy defended U.S. ships from the Barbary pirates, blockaded the Barbary ports and executed attacks against the Barbary' fleets.

The U.S. Navy saw substantial action in the War of 1812, where it was victorious in eleven single-ship duels with the Royal Navy. It proved victorious in the Battle of Lake Erie and prevented the region from becoming a threat to American operations in the area. The result was a major victory for the U.S. Army at the Niagara Frontier of the war, and the defeat of the Native American allies of the British at the Battle of the Thames. Despite this, the U.S. Navy could not prevent the British from blockading its ports and landing troops.[29] But after the War of 1812 ended in 1815, the U.S. Navy primarily focused its attention on protecting American shipping assets, sending squadrons to the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, where it participated in the Second Barbary War that ended piracy in the region, South America, Africa, and the Pacific.[21] From 1819 to the outbreak of the Civil War, the Africa Squadron operated to suppress the slave trade, seizing 36 slave ships, although its contribution was smaller than that of the much larger British Royal Navy.

During the Mexican–American War the U.S. Navy blockaded Mexican ports, capturing or burning the Mexican fleet in the Gulf of California and capturing all major cities in Baja California peninsula. In 1846–1848 the Navy successfully used the Pacific Squadron under Commodore Robert Stockton and its marines and blue-jackets to facilitate the capture of California with large-scale land operations coordinated with the local militia organized in the California Battalion. The Navy conducted the U.S. military's first large-scale amphibious joint operation by successfully landing 12,000 army troops with their equipment in one day at Veracruz, Mexico. When larger guns were needed to bombard Veracruz, Navy volunteers landed large guns and manned them in the successful bombardment and capture of the city. This successful landing and capture of Veracruz opened the way for the capture of Mexico City and the end of the war.[29] The U.S. Navy established itself as a player in United States foreign policy through the actions of Commodore Matthew Perry in Japan, which resulted in the Convention of Kanagawa in 1854.

A carte de visite of a U.S. Navy lieutenant during the Civil War

Naval power played a significant role during the American Civil War, in which the Union had a distinct advantage over the Confederacy on the seas.[29] A Union blockade on all major ports shut down exports and the coastal trade, but blockade runners provided a thin lifeline. The Brown-water navy components of the U.S. navy control of the river systems made internal travel difficult for Confederates and easy for the Union. The war saw ironclad warships in combat for the first time at the Battle of Hampton Roads in 1862, which pitted USS Monitor against CSS Virginia.[30] For two decades after the war, however, the U.S. Navy's fleet was neglected and became technologically obsolete.[31]

20th century

The Great White Fleet demonstrating U.S. naval power in 1907; it was proof that the U.S. Navy had blue-water capability.

Our ships are our natural bulwarks.

A modernization program beginning in the 1880s when the first steel-hulled warships stimulated the American steel industry, and "the new steel navy" was born.[32] This rapid expansion of the U.S. Navy and its easy victory over the Spanish Navy in 1898 brought a new respect for American technical quality. Rapid building of at first pre-dreadnoughts, then dreadnoughts brought the U.S. in line with the navies of countries such as Britain and Germany. In 1907, most of the Navy's battleships, with several support vessels, dubbed the Great White Fleet, were showcased in a 14-month circumnavigation world. Ordered by President Theodore Roosevelt, it was a mission designed to demonstrate the Navy's capability to extend to the global theater.[21] By 1911, the U.S. had begun building the super-dreadnoughts at a pace to eventually become competitive with Britain.[33] The 1911 also saw the first naval aircraft with the navy[34] which would lead to the informal establishment of United States Naval Flying Corps to protect shore bases. It was not until 1921 US naval aviation truly commenced.

Columbia, personification of the United States, wearing a warship bearing the words "World Power" as her "Easter bonnet" on the cover of Puck, 6 April 1901

World War I and interwar years

During World War I, the U.S. Navy spent much of its resources protecting and shipping hundreds of thousands of soldiers and marines of the American Expeditionary Force and war supplies across the Atlantic in U-boat infested waters with the Cruiser and Transport Force. It also concentrated on laying the North Sea Mine Barrage. Hesitation by the senior command meant that naval forces were not contributed until late 1917. Battleship Division Nine was dispatched to Britain and served as the Sixth Battle Squadron of the British Grand Fleet. Its presence allowed the British to decommission some older ships and reuse the crews on smaller vessels. Destroyers and U.S. Naval Air Force units like the Northern Bombing Group contributed to the anti-submarine operations. The strength of the United States Navy grew under an ambitious ship building program associated with the Naval Act of 1916.

Naval construction, especially of battleships, was limited by the Washington Naval Conference of 1921–22. The aircraft carriers USS Saratoga (CV-3) and USS Lexington (CV-2) were built on the hulls of partially built battle cruisers that had been canceled by the treaty. The New Deal used Public Works Administration funds to build warships, such as USS Yorktown (CV-5) and USS Enterprise (CV-6). By 1936, with the completion of USS Wasp (CV-7), the U.S. Navy possessed a carrier fleet of 165,000 tonnes displacement, although this figure was nominally recorded as 135,000 tonnes to comply with treaty limitations. Franklin Roosevelt, the number two official in the Navy Department during World War I, appreciated the Navy and gave it strong support. In return, senior leaders were eager for innovation and experimented with new technologies, such as magnetic torpedoes, and developed a strategy called War Plan Orange for victory in the Pacific in a hypothetical war with Japan that would eventually become reality.[35]

World War II

Battleship USS Idaho shelling Okinawa on 1 April 1945.

The U.S. Navy grew into a formidable force in the years prior to World War II, with battleship production being restarted in 1937, commencing with USS North Carolina (BB-55). Though ultimately unsuccessful, Japan tried to neutralize this strategic threat with the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. Following American entry into the war, the U.S. Navy grew tremendously as the United States was faced with a two-front war on the seas. It achieved notable acclaim in the Pacific Theater, where it was instrumental to the Allies' successful "island hopping" campaign.[22] The U.S. Navy participated in many significant battles, including the Battle of the Coral Sea, the Battle of Midway, the Solomon Islands Campaign, the Battle of the Philippine Sea, the Battle of Leyte Gulf, and the Battle of Okinawa. By 1943, the navy's size was larger than the combined fleets of all the other combatant nations in World War II.[36] By war's end in 1945, the U.S. Navy had added hundreds of new ships, including 18 aircraft carriers and 8 battleships, and had over 70% of the world's total numbers and total tonnage of naval vessels of 1,000 tons or greater.[37][38] At its peak, the U.S. Navy was operating 6,768 ships on V-J Day in August 1945.[39]

Doctrine had significantly shifted by the end of the war. The U.S. Navy had followed in the footsteps of the navies of Great Britain and Germany which favored concentrated groups of battleships as their main offensive naval weapons.[40] The development of the aircraft carrier and its devastating utilization by the Japanese against the U.S. at Pearl Harbor, however, shifted U.S. thinking. The Pearl Harbor attack destroyed or took out of action a significant number of U.S. Navy battleships. This placed much of the burden of retaliating against the Japanese on the small number of aircraft carriers.[41] During World War II some 4,000,000 Americans served in the United States Navy.[42]

Cold War

USS George Washington (SSBN-598), a ballistic missile submarine

The potential for armed conflict with the Soviet Union during the Cold War pushed the U.S. Navy to continue its technological advancement by developing new weapons systems, ships, and aircraft. U.S. naval strategy changed to that of forward deployment in support of U.S. allies with an emphasis on carrier battle groups.[43]

The navy was a major participant in the Vietnam War, blockaded Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and, through the use of ballistic missile submarines, became an important aspect of the United States' nuclear strategic deterrence policy. The U.S. Navy conducted various combat operations in the Persian Gulf against Iran in 1987 and 1988, most notably Operation Praying Mantis. The Navy was extensively involved in Operation Urgent Fury, Operation Desert Shield, Operation Desert Storm, Operation Deliberate Force, Operation Allied Force, Operation Desert Fox and Operation Southern Watch.

The U.S. Navy has also been involved in search and rescue/search and salvage operations, sometimes in conjunction with vessels of other countries as well as with U.S. Coast Guard ships. Two examples are the 1966 Palomares B-52 crash incident and the subsequent search for missing hydrogen bombs, and Task Force 71 of the Seventh Fleet's operation in search for Korean Air Lines Flight 007, shot down by the Soviets on 1 September 1983.

21st century

When a crisis confronts the nation, the first question often asked by policymakers is: 'What naval forces are available and how fast can they be on station?'

U.S. Navy officers aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln monitor defense systems during early 2010s maritime security operations exercises

The U.S. Navy continues to be a major support to U.S. interests in the 21st century. Since the end of the Cold War, it has shifted its focus from preparations for large-scale war with the Soviet Union to special operations and strike missions in regional conflicts.[45] The navy participated in Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and is a major participant in the ongoing War on Terror, largely in this capacity. Development continues on new ships and weapons, including the Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier and the Littoral combat ship. Because of its size, weapons technology, and ability to project force far from U.S. shores, the current U.S. Navy remains an asset for the United States. Moreover, it is the principal means through which the U.S. maintains international global order, namely by safeguarding global trade and protecting allied nations.[46]

In 2007, the U.S. Navy joined with the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Coast Guard to adopt a new maritime strategy called A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower that raises the notion of prevention of war to the same philosophical level as the conduct of war. The strategy was presented by the Chief of Naval Operations, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, and Commandant of the Coast Guard at the International Sea Power Symposium in Newport, RI on 17 October 2007.[47]

U.S. Navy patrol boat near Kuwait Naval Base in 2009

The strategy recognized the economic links of the global system and how any disruption due to regional crises (man-made or natural) can adversely impact the U.S. economy and quality of life. This new strategy charts a course for the Navy, Coast Guard, and Marine Corps to work collectively with each other and international partners to prevent these crises from occurring or reacting quickly should one occur to prevent negative impacts on the U.S.

In 2010, Admiral Gary Roughead, Chief of Naval Operations, noted that demands on the Navy have grown as the fleet has shrunk and that in the face of declining budgets in the future, the U.S. Navy must rely even more on international partnerships.[48]

The amphibious assault ship USS America, launched in 2012.

In its 2013 budget request, the navy focused on retaining all eleven big deck carriers, at the expense of cutting numbers of smaller ships and delaying the SSBN replacement.[49] By the next year the USN found itself unable to maintain eleven aircraft carriers in the face of the expiration of budget relief offered by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 and CNO Jonathan Greenert said that a ten ship carrier fleet would not be able to sustainably support military requirements.[50] The British First Sea Lord George Zambellas said that[51] the USN had switched from "outcome-led to resource-led" planning.[52]

One significant change in U.S. policymaking that is having a major effect on naval planning is the Pivot to East Asia. In response, the Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus stated in 2015 that 60 percent of the total U.S. fleet will be deployed to the Pacific by 2020.[53] The Navy's most recent 30-year shipbuilding plan, published in 2016, calls for a future fleet of 350 ships in order to meet the challenges of an increasingly competitive international environment.[51] A provision of the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act called for expanding the naval fleet to 355 ships "as soon as practicable", but did not establish additional funding nor a timeline.[54]

United States Navy History articles: 126