Happy 239th Birthday, U.S. Navy

On October 13, 1775, the Continental Congress authorized the purchase and use of two armed ships to search out and destroy munition ships supplying weapons to the British Army in the rebellious colonies of North America. From these humble beginnings, the U.S. Navy traces its history and traditions.

During the American Revolution, Congress authorized over 50 ships to be part of the Continental Navy and, at its height, the Navy had 20 ships active. The Navy’s most enduring hero, Captain John Paul Jones served and fought his most famous battles during the rebellion. The cruises of the Ranger and the Battle of Flamborough Head where the USS Bonhomme Richard captured the HMS Serapis established an enduring tradition of not giving up to overwhelming odds.

After the end of the rebellion, the Navy was disbanded and ships were sold. The Constitution of the newly formed United States, ratified in 1789, authorized the creation of a Navy for the new republic. President George Washington signed the Naval Act of 1794 which created a permanent, standing Navy with the authorization for the building of six frigates. These six frigates formed the basis of the United States Navy for the next 20 years as we fought against the Barbary Pirates, a quasi-war with France, and a second war with Great Britain.

USS Constitution on her 200th anniversary.
USS Constitution on her 200th anniversary.

Those six frigates created an enduring legacy and one, the USS Constitution, still exists and is still in commission with the Navy. Four of the frigates, the Constitution, President, Chesapeake and United States, were basically ships of the line. Larger and more heavily armed than any contemporary frigates, they were the ultimate expression of American naval power at the time. The Congress and Constellation were smaller, lighter frigates of 36-guns. No less critical to the development of the Navy, they were overshadowed by their bigger sisters.

Heroes and legends of the U.S. Navy were created during this era. Perry, Preble, Decatur, Hull, Bainbridge and others are still remembered and memorialized with warships carrying their names. Their battles shook the world as they showed that the British Navy was not invincible. In equal, ship-to-ship actions, they captured or destroyed ship after ship. Their success eventually convinced the British to order their ship captains to avoid an equal fight.

Their actions and words shaped and guided the direction the Navy was to take. The honor in serving and the sacrifice to keep this country strong and free has become a standing tradition in our Navy. The Navy has not always been successful and defeats have entered our history alongside victories, but when the United States needs to show the rest of the world her power and authority, the Navy gets sent in.

Carrier operations in the Persian Gulf, humanitarian missions in the Western Pacific, the delivery of Marines to hot spots around the globe. The Navy is our first and best choice when diplomacy has failed or lives are at stake.

Happy Birthday, here is to another 239 successful and strong years.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

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Matt Towns

Matt is a former military journalist who spent 10 years in the US Navy. He served in various posts during his career, including a couple of deployments on the USS Valley Forge (CG-50). After leaving the Navy, he worked in management for a number of years before opening his own businesses. He ran those businesses until 2012 when he chose to leave the retail industry and return to writing. Matt currently works as a freelance writer, contributing to the US Patriot blog and other websites about political affairs, military activities and sailing.
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