Today we are on to the U.S. Navy, the third branch in our Armed Forces Week series. In 1775, the Continental Congress established the Continental Navy, a fleet of armed ships commissioned to fight British ships during the Revolutionary War. The Navy was disbanded after the Revolutionary War, but re-established by Congress through the Naval Act of 1794.

Reflecting its original mission to stop piracy and protect trade, the Navy strives 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 operates aircraft carriers, assault ships, submarines, destroyers and other powerful warships.

Here are some interesting facts about the U.S. Navy:

  • Ray Mabus is the 75th United States Secretary of the Navy and leads America’s Navy and Marine Corps. Secretary Mabus is responsible for an annual budget in excess of $170 billion and leadership of almost 900,000 people.
  • The U.S. Navy has 327,099 active duty servicemen, 108,820 ready reserves, 272 deployable battleships and more than 3700 aircraft.
  • The National Museum of the U.S. Navy was established in 1961 and opened to the public in 1963. Located in Washington, DC it is one of 14 Navy museums throughout the country. It is the only one that presents an overview of U.S. naval history. Permanent and temporary exhibitions commemorate the Navy’s wartime heroes and battles as well as its peacetime contributions in exploration, diplomacy, navigation and humanitarian service.
  • Did you know that in the Navy a ship’s toliet is referred to as “the head”? The use of the term dates to as early as 1708. “Head” in a nautical sense referring to the bow or fore part of a ship dates to 1485. The ship’s toilet was typically placed at the head of the ship near the base of the bowsprit, where splashing water served to naturally clean the toilet area.
  • On March 3, 1819 an act of Congress formally placed the responsibility for assigning names to the Navy’s ships in the hands of the Secretary of the Navy, a prerogative which he still exercises.
  • In 1907 President Theodore Roosevelt issued an Executive order that established the convention for naming ships that we use today. “In order that there shall be uniformity in the matter of designating naval vessels, it is hereby directed that the official designation of vessels of war, and other vessels of the Navy of the United States, shall be the name of such vessel, preceded by the words, United States Ship, or the letters U.S.S., and by no other words or letters.”
  • Three popular Navy dishes from 1958 include Baking Powder Biscuits, Creamed Sliced Dried Beef and Navy Bean Soup.
  • The U.S. Navy played an important role in the NASA space program. Not only were some astronauts naval officers, but the Navy also supplied ships and helicopter squadrons used in the recovery of astronauts and equipment, and UDT frogmen who were the first to reach capsules after splashdown.
  • TheSEAL Team Six. DEVGRU and its Army counterpart, Delta Force, are the United States military’s primary counter-terrorism units. Although DEVGRU was created as a maritime counter-terrorism unit, it has become a multi-functional special operations unit with several roles that include high-risk personnel/hostage extractions and other specialized missions.
  • The Naval Academy prepares young men and women to become professional officers of competence, character, and compassion in the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. Naval Academy students are midshipmen on active duty in the U.S. Navy. The scenic Naval Academy campus, known as the Yard, is located in historic Annapolis, Md., where the Severn River flows into the Chesapeake Bay. With its combination of early 20th-century and modern buildings, the Naval Academy is a blend of tradition and state-of-the-art technology that exemplifies today’s Navy and Marine Corps.
  • The United States Navy has two mottos, one official and one unofficial. The official is “Semper Fortis,” and the unofficial “Non Sibi Sed Patriae.” The first means “ever strong,” the second “not for self but for country.”

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