Here’s to 242 years of service.

Michelle Darrisaw
October 12, 2017

On October 13, the United States Navy celebrates a remarkable 242 years of history. Although its roots date all the way back to the American Revolution, the rich history and tradition carried on by the U.S. Navy bears the exact same semblance today.

The origin of the Continental Navy, as it was known back then, started in late 1775. Unfair taxation practices and unbalanced representation in Parliament hindered American coastal trade, which caused the original 13 colonies to rebel against Britain and their superiority at sea. With support from George Washington, the Continental Congress established a naval force on October 13, 1775, to seize British transports and supplies off the coast of Maryland. The bold effort was implemented in hopes of neutralizing Britain’s power.

As a result, the birth of America’s Navy began with 80 men aboard two sailing vessels that were carrying carriage guns. Today, thousands of ships and aircraft visiting far-reaching ports of call make the U.S. Navy one of the largest of any navy fleet in the world.

In honor of its birthday and contributions to our nation, here are five fun facts and accomplishments that have defined the U.S. Navy for more than two centuries.

1. The Navy was actually formed twice.

The Continental Navy was originally formed on October 13, 1775, just after the start of the Revolutionary War. However, it was demobilized after the war in 1785, which means that the nation didn’t have a navy for almost 10 years. Without any defense at sea, the country was vulnerable to pirates, so the Naval Act of 1794 was enacted. As a result, the navy was restored and officially renamed to the U.S. Navy.

2. The first aircraft wasn’t used until 1911.

The U.S. Navy bought its first airplane, the Curtiss A-1 Triad in 1911.

3. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world.

In terms of labor force, our country’s navy boasts the best sailors and officers at sea. With more than 324,000 active duty service members and an impressive fleet of battle force ships, aircraft carriers, submarines, and cruisers, the Navy has a profound global reach.

4. Six U.S. presidents served in the Navy.

Every president from 1961 to 1993 has bragging rights of being a Navy veteran during World War II, including John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and George H.W. Bush.

5. The name "SEALs" has nothing to do with marine mammals.

Navy SEALs are members of a Naval Special Warfare unit that are highly trained for war and to evade enemies at sea, on land, and in the air. The term "SEAL" actually stands for "Sea, Air, and Land."

As we celebrate the 242nd birthday of the U.S. Navy, we want to say thank you to all the brave men and women who have served.