October 13 is the official date that marks the birthday of the U.S. Navy and there is a rich history behind this date – it traces right back to the beginnings of the American Revolution! Lin Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton aside, the Continental Congress established a large naval force on this day in 1775 with the hopes that a smaller fleet could offset the British sea power. The navy birthday is an important date, and should be recognized as such. Attacking British commerce ships was considered a rebellion at this time, and yet the vote for a U.S. Continental Navy was put into place.
Notable Naval Accomplishments
Given the thousands of ships and aircraft that service the U.S. Navy, it’s important to understand that the U.S. Navy had some very important firsts in its time. Their accomplishments are many and span two centuries and more. Some of these include:
- The U.S. Navy had the first commissioned designs for submarines.
- The first ever use of modern battleships started with the USS Michigan. America had battleships in situ long before the 1908 South Carolina class dreadnought, but the USS Michigan was a whole new design.
- The U.S. Navy had the first use of the Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat. This was introduced in 1992 and they were originally meant for lifeboats!
Did you know that the Continental Navy was disbanded at the end of the Revolutionary War? You wouldn’t think so given its prevalence today, but in 1794, 19 years after it was first founded, the Naval Act was passed. President George Washington signed it into law and this authorized the construction of six new frigates. These were to be the first ships in what we now know today is the modern U.S. Navy. For four years after the Naval Act was passed, all affairs relating to naval ships and movements were the responsibility of the Department of War, with the U.S. Navy fighting in the Barbary Wars, the War of 1812 and the Quasi-War. After these three, the U.S. Navy was at peace until 1846 in the war between Mexico and America, though they also fought piracy and slave trade.
The U.S. Naval Academy was founded in 1845 just before the Civil War began. The U.S. Navy fought the Confederate States Navy and most of the ships were laid up after this – just in case they’d be needed in the future. And they were! The U.S. Navy went on to fight in the Spanish-American War, World War I and World War II. After this, they fought in the Cold War, Korean War, Vietnam War and the first Persian Gulf War. In 1915, the Navy Reserve was officially established and the US Naval Reserve Force was founded in 1916. This was redesignated in 2005 as the US Navy Reserve and it is still being called upon in the world today.
With thousands of ships and aircraft that serve worldwide, the U.S. Navy is known as a force to be reckoned with. It’s the world’s undisputed Naval Superpower and it’s all because George Washington chose to put forth a Naval Force to win against the British.