United States Navy
|United States Navy|
|Founded||27 March 1794|
(as current service)
13 October 1775
|Size||349,593 active duty personnel (As of 2021[update])|
|Equipment||List of equipment of the United States Navy|
The United States Navy (USN) is the
The United States Navy traces its origins to the
The United States Navy is part of the Department of the Navy, alongside the United States 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.
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.
The U.S. Navy is a seaborne branch of the
- 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, naval combatand 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:
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.—Marquis de Lafayette
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
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. 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. 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 and at one point was reduced to two in active service. 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.
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.
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
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. 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. 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. After 1840 several secretaries of the navy were southerners who advocated for strengthening southern naval defenses, expanding the fleet, and making naval technological improvements.
Naval power played a significant role during the
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.
World War I and interwar years
Naval construction, especially of battleships, was limited by the
World War II
The U.S. Navy grew into a formidable force in the years prior to
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. The development of the aircraft carrier and its devastating use 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. During World War II some 4,000,000 Americans served in the United States Navy.
Cold War and 1990s
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.
The navy was a major participant in the
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.
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?'— AdmiralCarlisle A. H. Trost
The U.S. Navy continues to be a major support to U.S. interests in the 21st century. Since the end of the
In 2007, the U.S. Navy joined with the
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.
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.
One significant change in U.S. policymaking that is having a major effect on naval planning is the
The U.S. Navy falls under the administration of the Department of the Navy, under civilian leadership of the Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV). The most senior naval officer is the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), a four-star admiral who is immediately under and reports to the Secretary of the Navy. At the same time, the Chief of Naval Operations is a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, which is the second-highest deliberative body of the armed forces after the United States National Security Council, although it plays only an advisory role to the President and does not nominally form part of the chain of command. The Secretary of the Navy and Chief of Naval Operations are responsible for organizing, recruiting, training, and equipping the Navy so that it is ready for operation under the commanders of the unified combatant commands.
There are nine components in the operating forces of the U.S. Navy: the
The United States Navy has seven active numbered fleets – Second, Third, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Tenth Fleets are each led by a vice admiral, and the Fourth Fleet is led by a rear admiral. These seven fleets are further grouped under Fleet Forces Command (the former Atlantic Fleet), Pacific Fleet, Naval Forces Europe-Africa, and Naval Forces Central Command, whose commander also doubles as Commander Fifth Fleet; the first three commands being led by four-star admirals. The United States First Fleet existed after World War II from 1947, but it was redesignated the Third Fleet in early 1973. The United States Second Fleet was deactivated in September 2011 but reestablished in August 2018 amid heightened tensions with Russia. It is headquartered in Norfolk, Virginia, with responsibility over the East Coast and North Atlantic. In early 2008, the Navy reactivated the United States Fourth Fleet to control operations in the area controlled by Southern Command, which consists of US assets in and around Central and South America. Other number fleets were activated during World War II and later deactivated, renumbered, or merged.
Shore establishments exist to support the mission of the fleet through the use of facilities on land. Among the commands of the shore establishment, as of April 2011[update], are the
Relationships with other service branches
United States Marine Corps
In 1834, the United States Marine Corps came under the Department of the Navy. Historically, the Navy has had a unique relationship with the USMC, partly because they both specialize in seaborne operations. Together the Navy and Marine Corps form the Department of the Navy and report to the Secretary of the Navy. However, the Marine Corps is a distinct, separate service branch with its own uniformed service chief – the Commandant of the Marine Corps, a four-star general.
The Marine Corps depends on the Navy for medical support (dentists,
In the operational environment, as an expeditionary force specializing in amphibious operations, Marines often embark on Navy ships to conduct operations from beyond territorial waters. Marine units deploying as part of a Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) operate under the command of the existing Marine chain of command. Although Marine units routinely operate from amphibious assault ships, the relationship has evolved over the years much as the Commander of the Carrier Air Group/Wing (CAG) does not work for the carrier commanding officer, but coordinates with the ship's CO and staff. Some Marine aviation squadrons, usually fixed-wing assigned to carrier air wings train and operate alongside Navy squadrons; they fly similar missions and often fly sorties together under the cognizance of the CAG. Aviation is where the Navy and Marines share the most common ground since aircrews are guided in their use of aircraft by standard procedures outlined in a series of publications known as NATOPS manuals.
United States Coast Guard