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)
241 years ago today, October 13, 1775, the Continental Congress authorized a standing Navy. This force remained in being until 1 August 1785 when the last warship of the fleet, the 36-gun sailing frigate Alliance, was sold into merchant service, leaving a nine year gap until the U.S. Congress ordered a new Navy, that of the United States proper, into being with The Act to Provide a Naval Armament of March 27, 1794.
The Founding Fathers were not short of modern fighting ideas, only in the cash to accomplish them.
For instance in 1783, after learning of the first balloon ascent in Europe, Benjamin Franklin observed that for the price of three ships-of-the-line, a country could procure 5,000 hot air balloons, and use them to deposit 10,000 men into an enemy’s territory, wrecking havoc on any attempt at a coherent defense. Of course, at the time the Continental Navy mentioned above was on the way to full disbandment and the Army was likewise reduced to just 25 caretakers at Fort Pitt and 55 at West Point following the Treaty of Paris.
But of course we celebrate the October 13, 1775 date today as the Navy’s birth with the Sea Chanters Chorus singing the haunting Eternal Father, Strong to Save with narration by Musician 1st Class Michael Webb