A 13 October 1775 resolution of the Continental Congress established what is now the United States Navy with “a swift sailing vessel, to carry ten carriage guns, and a proportionable number of swivels, with eighty men, be fitted, with all possible despatch, for a cruise of three months….” After the American War of Independence, the U.S. Constitution empowered the new Congress “to provide and maintain a navy.” Acting on this authority, Congress established the Department of the Navy on 30 April 1798.
In 1972, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt authorized official recognition of 13 October as the birthday of the U.S. Navy. Since then, each CNO has encouraged a Navy-wide celebration of this occasion “to enhance a greater appreciation of our Navy heritage, and to provide a positive influence toward pride and professionalism in the naval service.”
NORWEGIAN SEA (Nov. 22, 2019) The U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Gridley (DDG 101) fires its Mark 45 5-inch gun during a live-fire exercise. Gridley is underway on a scheduled deployment as the flagship of Standing NATO Maritime Group One to conduct maritime operations and provide a continuous maritime capability for NATO in the Northern Atlantic. (U.S. Navy photo by Master-At-Arms 1st Class Joseph Broyles)
Since World War 2, the United States Navy has owned the oceans and will likely continue to do so for the near future. Although the Navy has thousands of missiles, modern jet attack aircraft, nuclear powered submarines, and advanced torpedoes, most surface combatants still carry a big gun up front as a hood ornament.
Ever since 1363, when cannon fired from a ship at sea killed a Danish king on another; naval ships have carried large caliber guns. The United States only became a world power in 1898 after the proper application of the US Navy’s big guns on its battleships and cruisers against Spanish fleets in the Caribbean and Pacific during the Spanish American War. The First World War started after a naval arms race over building large-gunned battleships increased tensions to a point of no return. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor at the start of World War 2, they did so to target Battleship Row, to take America’s big guns out of the fight.
Although the number of battleships at sea has dropped to zero from then to now, the US Navy is one of the few forces in the world that still has cruisers and destroyers. Moreover, all of these ships still carry 5-inch (127mm) Mk 45 naval rifles. Moreover, these guns are far from obsolete.
Read the rest in my column at Firearms Talk.com