United States Navy
The United States Navy is the branch of the United States armed forces responsible for naval operations. The U.S. Navy consists of more than 300 ships and over 4,000 operational aircraft. It has over a half million men and women on active or ready reserve duty.
The United States Navy traces its origins to the Continental Navy, which the Continental Congress established during the American Revolutionary War. The United States Constitution, ratified in 1789, empowered Congress "to provide and maintain a navy." Acting on this authority, Congress ordered the construction and manning of six frigates; one of the original six, the USS Constitution, familiarly known as "Old Ironsides," survives to this day.
The War Department administered naval affairs from that year until Congress established the Department of the Navy on April 30, 1798. The Navy became part of the Department of Defense upon its establishment in 1947.
- 1 History of the Navy
- 2 Naval culture
- 3 Organization
- 4 Personnel
- 5 Weapon Systems
- 6 Submarine warfare and nuclear deterrence
- 7 Major naval bases
- 8 Notable members of the U.S. Navy
- 9 Related articles
- 10 External links
Main article: History of the United States Navy
The Continental Navy was established by the Continental Congress on October 13, 1775, who authorized the procurement, fitting out, manning, and dispatch of two armed vessels to cruise in search of munitions ships supplying the British Army in America. The legislation also established a Naval Committee to supervise the work. All together, the Continental Navy numbered some fifty ships over the course of the American Revolutionary War, with approximately twenty warships active at its maximum strength.
After the American War for Independence, Congress sold the surviving ships of the Continental Navy and released the seamen and officers. In accordance with the Constitution, Congress ordered the construction and manning of six frigates on March 27, 1794 and in 1797 the first three frigates, USS United States, Constellation and Constitution went into service. The frigates became famous in the War of 1812, where they unexpectedly defeated the British Royal Navy on a number of occasions.
During the American Civil War, the Navy was an innovator in the use of ironclad warships, but after the war slipped into obsolescence. A modernization program beginning in the 1880s brought the U.S. into the first rank of the world's navies by the beginning of the 20th century.
The Navy saw relatively little action during World War I, but the primary goal of the attack on Pearl Harbor was to cripple the Navy in the Pacific Ocean. The action was strategically ineffective, however, and during the next three years of hard fighting, the U.S. Navy grew into the largest and most powerful navy the world had ever seen.
Navy sailors are trained in the core values of Honor, Courage, Commitment. Sailors cope with boredom on long cruises of six months to a year, and cherish their time in their home ports, as well as vacations at ports abroad.
The naval jack of the United States is a blue field with 50 white stars, identical to the canton of the ensign, both in appearance and size. A jack of similar design was first used in 1794, though with 13 stars arranged in a 3–2–3–2–3 pattern.
The jack is flown from the bow of the ship and the ensign from the stern when the ship is moored or anchored. When underway, the ensign is flown from the main mast.
Main article: Military slang
A distinct dialect of English has developed amongst sailors over the course of the last four centuries. Naval jargon is spoken by American sailors as a normal part of their daily speech.
There are three distinct components of Naval jargon:
- Words that are unique to sailing and have no use in standard English, such as yardarm, bow, and stern.
- Archaic English that remains common in naval jargon, such as "aye" (the common English word for "Yes" until the 16th century), "Fo'c'sle" (from Fore Castle), and Bo'sun (from "Boat Swain", swain being Middle English for a young man or a servant).
- Modern jargon, such as "Bird" to refer to missiles, or 1MC.
Some common naval jargon:
- Aye, aye: Yes (I understand and will obey)
- Bulkhead: Wall
- Deck: Floor
- FUBAR: Fouled up beyond all repair, F***ed up beyond all recognition
- Galley: Crews' mess, or dining area
- Geedunk: Candy, or a place that sells candy in a short form of Gedunk bar
- Gig line: The visual line formed by uniform zipper, belt buckle, and buttoned shirt seam
- Goat locker: Lounge or galley for the exclusive use of Chief Petty Officers
- Hatch: Door
- Head: Bathroom (The term comes from the days of sail, because wind would blow from the rear of the ship foreward the bathroom would be located at the front "Head" of the ship to carry the fowl smell of excrement away from the crew.)
- Knee-knockers: A passageway opening through a bulkhead. The lower lip of the opening sits at shin height
- Ladderwell: Stairs
- Mess Decks: Chow Hall or Eating Establishment onboard ship
- Overhead: Ceiling
- P-way: Short for passageway or a hall
- Pollywog: An individual who has not crossed the Equator, who must go through rituals, that sometimes cross the line to be hazing, to become a shellback. This practice can be traced back hundreds of years and is conducted in many countries Navies across the globe. See crossing the line.
- Port: Left side of the boat (when facing the bow)
- Rack: Bed
- Salty: Old and experienced
- Scuttlebutt: Drinking fountain or rumor (origionated from the rumors that would be spread onboard ship while gathered about the Water barrel.)
- Shellback: An individual who has crossed the Equator
- Starboard: Right side of the boat (when facing the bow)
- Swab: Mop
- Wardroom: Officers' mess, or dining room
The Navy is administered by the Department of the Navy, led by the Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV). The senior naval officer, the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), is the four-star admiral immediately under the Secretary of the Navy. The Secretary of the Navy and Chief of Naval Operations are responsible for organizing, recruiting, training, and equipping the Navy so the Navy is ready for operation under the command of the Unified Combatant Commanders. (Also see United States Armed Forces Organization.)
President | SECDEF | ------------------- | | SECNAV | | | CNO Unified Combatant Commanders | | -------------------- | | | | Shore establishment Operating Forces (including fleets)
- US 1st Fleet or the US Coast Guard - in times of war or national emergency.
- 2nd Fleet – Atlantic Ocean — Flagship USS Mount Whitney (LCC-20), Norfolk, Virginia
- 3rd Fleet – Eastern and Northern Pacific Ocean — Flagship USS Coronado (AGF-11), San Diego, California (In peacetime the Third Fleet has no ARG and the carriers in the area are on their way to the Seventh Fleet or conduct training cruises after an overhaul for example.)
- 5th Fleet – Middle East — Headquartered at Manama, Bahrain
- 6th Fleet – Mediterranean Sea — Flagship USS La Salle (AGF-3), Gaeta, Italy
- 7th Fleet – Western Pacific and Indian Ocean — Flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC-19), Yokosuka, Japan
Commissioned officers in the Navy have paygrades from O-1 to O-10. Officers with superior performance may be promoted. Officers between O-1 and O-3 are called junior officers, O-4 to O-6 are called senior officers, and O-7 to O-10 are called flag officers. See U.S. Navy officer rank insignia for a complete list of paygrades and corresponding ranks.
Commissioned officers belong to one of the following communities:
- Unrestricted line: Surface Warfare, Aviation Warfare, Submarine Warfare, Special Warfare, Special Operations
- Restricted line: Engineering Duty, Meteorology and Oceanography, Aerospace Engineering Duty, Aerospace Maintenance Duty, Public Affairs, Cryptology, Intelligence, Fleet Support
- Staff Corps: Supply Corps, Medical Corps, Medical Service Corps, Dental Corps, Nurse Corps, Chaplain Corps, Civil Engineering Corps, Judge Advocate General Corps
Commissioned officers originate from the United States Naval Academy, Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC), Officer Candidate School (OCS), direct commission, and other commissioning programs.
Enlisted members of the Navy have paygrades from E-1 to E-9. Enlisted members with superior performance may be advanced in paygrade. Two notably significant advancements are Seaman to Petty Officer Third Class (E-3 to E-4) and Petty Officer First Class to Chief Petty Officer (E-6 to E-7). Advancement to Chief Petty Officer is especially significant, marked by a special initiation ceremony. See U.S. Navy enlisted rate insignia for a complete list of the paygrades.
Enlisted members of paygrades E-4 and above are said to be "rated" and have a rating, or an occupational specialty. There is a wide variety of more than 50 ratings such as Boatswain's Mate, Quartermaster, Engineman, Damage Controllman, Electronics Technician, Air Traffic Controller, Fire-Control Technician, Gunner's Mate, Sonar Technician, Construction Mechanics, Hospital Corpsman, Yeoman, Disbursing Clerk, Culinary Specialist, Photographer's Mate, Musician, Master-at-Arms, and Cryptologic Technician.
All new active-duty enlisted members receive basic training ("boot camp") at the Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes, Illinois. Those who have a contract for a specific rating continue onto "A" schools for training in the rating. Those who don't have a specific rating go into the fleet to learn on the job and later strike for a rating.
Service members in the Navy learn new skills and qualify for more responsibilities as they progress in their naval careers. A very important qualification is the warfare qualification. Service members may qualify for warfare in their fields, including Aviation Warfare, Special Warfare, Surface Warfare, and Submarine Warfare.
To denote qualifications received in the United States Navy, a number of badges and insignia are issued to service members upon completion of approved Personal Qualification Standards (PQS) which are tasks and exams required for qualification in a given field.
A full list of Navy Qualification Badges is displayed on the article: Military badges of the United States
The names of commissioned ships of the U.S. Navy all start with USS, meaning 'United States Ship'. Non-commissioned, civilian-manned vessels of the U.S. Navy have names that begin with USNS, standing for 'United States Navy Ship'. A letter based hull classification symbol is used to designate a vessel's type. The names of ships are selected by the Secretary of the Navy. The names are that of the states, cities, towns, important persons, famous battles, fish, and ideals. Usually, different types of ships have names originated from different types of sources.
See List of ships of the United States Navy for a more complete listing of ships past and present.
Aircraft carriers are the major strategic arm of the Navy. They put U.S. air power within reach of most land-based military power. The US Navy has as many aircraft carriers as the rest of the world combined, and its carriers are much larger and more powerful than those of the rest of the world. Following below is a list of all carriers (and their homeports) on active duty or under construction as of January 21, 2004. For a list of all carriers see List of aircraft carriers of the United States Navy and List of escort aircraft carriers of the United States Navy.
- Kitty Hawk class (1 ship)
- USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) — Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan
- USS Enterprise (CVN-65) — Norfolk, Virginia
- USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67) — Mayport Naval Station, Florida
- Nimitz class (9 ships, 1 under construction)
- USS Nimitz (CVN-68) — San Diego, California
- USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) — Norfolk, Virginia
- USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) — Bremerton, Washington
- USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) — Norfolk, Virginia
- USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) — Everett, Washington
- USS George Washington (CVN-73) — Norfolk, Virginia
- USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) — Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego, California
- USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) — Norfolk, Virginia
- USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) — Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego, California
- George H. W. Bush (CVN-77) — Under Construction
Amphibious assault ships
Amphibious assault ships carry Marines and is the platform for Marines aircraft. They project power as aircraft carriers do.
- Wasp class (7 ships)
- Tarawa class (5 ships)
There are two major types of submarines, ballistic and attack. Ballistic submarines have the single strategic mission of nuclear deterrence by being hidden launching platforms for nuclear ICBMs. Attack submarines have tactical missions including controlling naval and shipping activity, serving as cruise missile-launching platforms, and intelligence gathering.
- Ohio class (18 in commission) — ballistic submarines, 4 to be converted into guided missile submarines
- Virginia class (1 in commission, 3 under construction) — attack submarines
- Seawolf class (2 in commission, 1 under construction) — attack submarines
- Los Angeles Class (51 in commission) — attack submarines
Some other submarines, past and present.
- USS Argonaut — two submarines
- USS Tang — two submarines
- USS Nautilus — first nuclear submarine (1955)
- USS Greeneville
- USS Thresher — sunk in an accident in 1963
- USS Scorpion — lost in an accident in 1968
- USS Ohio — first boat in the Ohio class, launched 1979
- USS George Washington — first fleet ballistic missile submarine
- USS Memphis
- USS Glenard P. Lipscomb
- USS City of Corpus Christi
- Benjamin Franklin class
- USS Tecumseh
- USS Tullibee
- USS Triton
- USS Halibut
- Sturgeon class
The current guided missile cruisers are versatile with capability for air warfare, surface warfare and undersea warfare.
Some other cruisers, past and present.
- USS Ticonderoga (first in the Ticonderoga class of cruisers), decommissioned in September 2004.
- USS Indianapolis — heavy cruiser, sunk by Japanese submarine
Greyhounds of the Sea. The destroyer evolved from the need of navies to counter a new ship which made a devastating debut in the Chilean Civil War of 1891 and in the Sino-Japanese War of 1894. This was the swift, small torpedo boat that could dash in close to the larger ships, loose their torpedoes and dash away. The world's navies recognized the need for a counter weapon and so the torpedo boat destroyer—later just "destroyer"—was born. From the first U.S. destroyer commissioned in 1902 to the famous ships of World War II to the Spruance class destroyer to the Arleigh Burke class, the U.S. Navy's destroyers have been evolving. And that evolution continues into the 21st century with the coming of the DD(X). (Credit: US Navy Introduction to Destroyers)
- Arleigh Burke class (41 in commission) — first ship class with comprehensive design for stealth technology.
- Spruance class (7 in commission) — this class is being phasing out.
Some other destroyers, past and present.
- USS Reuben James — first US ship sunk in WWII
- USS Cole — badly damaged by an attack in Aden, Yemen
- USS Somers
- USS Winston S. Churchill
- USS Stribling
- USS Arleigh Burke (first ship in the Arleigh Burke class of destroyers)
- Oliver Hazard Perry class (30 ships in commission)
Some other frigates, past and present.
- USS Stark — 36 died when ship was hit by Iraqi air-launched missiles in 1987
- USS Reuben James — launched February 8, 1985
- USS Samuel B. Roberts — survived hitting a mine on 14 April 1988, is still in commission as of 2004.
Battleships are the best armored ships with the largest firepower from large-caliber guns. Until becoming obsolete in World War II because of aircraft carriers, they dominated naval battles. The US Navy had decommissioned all of its battle ships. At least two TLAM capable platforms remain in "Inactive" Reserve status.
- USS Arizona — Pennsylvania class, sunk at Pearl Harbor
- USS Wisconsin — Iowa class, anchored as a public exhibit at the Nauticus National Maritime Center in Norfolk, Virginia
- USS Missouri — Iowa class, the last US battleship built
- USS Texas — New York class, flagship of D-Day, sister ship to USS New York
- The Pegasus class of hydrofoils.
- USS Liberty — intelligence vessel badly damaged during the USS Liberty incident
- USS Peleliu — amphibious assault ship
- USS Pueblo — intelligence vessel captured by North Korea.
- USS Constitution — "Old Ironsides," oldest commissioned warship afloat
- USS Monitor — first US ironclad warship, also first rotating turret
- USS Merrimac — a wooden warship rebuilt by the Confederates as the ironclad CSS Virginia
- CSS Hunley — First submarine successfully used in combat. Built by the Confederates near the end of the Civil War. Sank the USS Housatonic with its spar-mounted torpedo, but was sunk during or soon after the same battle, with all hands on board.
- A-4 Skyhawk
- AV-8B Harrier II
- C-2 Greyhound
- E-2C Hawkeye
- E-6B Mercury
- EA-6B Prowler
- ES-3 Shadow
- FH-1 Phantom
- F-14 Tomcat
- F/A-18 Hornet
- F/A-18E/F Super Hornet
- EA-18G Growler
- F-35 Joint Strike Fighter
- H-3 Sea King
- CH-46 Sea Knight
- CH-53 Sea Stallion
- SH-2 Seasprite
- SH-60 Sea Hawk
- P-3C Orion see also Multimission Maritime Aircraft
- S-3B Viking
- V-22 Osprey
- T-6A Texan II
- T-45 Goshawk
- Aerial Common Sensor (no designation yet)
Missiles, Guns, Equipment
- Trident missile
- Poseidon missile
- Tomahawk missile
- Polaris missile
- Naval Space Surveillance System
Submarine warfare and nuclear deterrence
The submarine has a long history in the USN. It began in the late 19th century, with the building of the SS-1, the USS Holland. The boat was in service for 10 years and was a developmental and trials vessel for many systems on other early submarines.
The submarine really came of age in World War I. The USN did not have a large part in this war, with its action mainly being confined to escorting convoys later in the war and sending a division of battleships to reinforce the British Grand Fleet. However, there were those in the USN submarine service who saw what the Germans had done with their U-boats and took careful note.
Doctrine in the inter-war years emphasised the submarine as a scout for the battle fleet, and also extreme caution in command. Both these axioms were shown to be wrong very quickly after the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. The submarine skippers of the fleet boats of World War II waged a very effective campaign against Japanese merchant vessels, doing to Japan what Germany failed to do to the United Kingdom. They were aggressive in their prosecution of their task, and operated far from the fleet.
In addition to their commerce raiding role, submarines also proved valuable in air-sea rescue. There was many an American aircraft carrier pilot who owed his life to the valour of USN submarine crews, including future U.S. President, George H. W. Bush.
After WWII, things continued along much the same path until the early 1950s. Then a revolution, that was to forever change the nature of the submarine arm occurred. That revolution was the USS Nautilus.
The Nautilus was the first nuclear-powered submarine. Up until that point, submarines had really been, at their most basic level, torpedo boats that happened to be able to go underwater. They had been tied to the surface by the need to charge their batteries using diesel engines relatively often. The nuclear power plant of the Nautilus meant that the boat could stay underwater for literally months at a time, the only limit in the end being the amount of food that the boat could carry.
Another revolution in submarine warfare came with USS George Washington. Nuclear powered, like the Nautilus, the George Washington added strategic ballistic missiles to the mix. Earlier submarines had carried strategic missiles, but the boats had been diesel powered, and the missiles required the boat to surface in order to fire. The missiles were also cruise missiles, which were vulnerable to the defences of the day in a way that ballistic missiles were not.
The George Washington's missiles could be fired whilst the boat was submerged, meaning that it was far less likely to be detected before firing. The nuclear power of the boat also meant that, like the Nautilus, the George Washington's patrol length was only limited by the amount of food the boat could carry. Ballistic missile submarines, carrying Polaris missiles, eventually superseded all other strategic nuclear systems in the USN. Deterrent patrols continue to this day, although now with the Ohio class boats and Trident missiles.
Given the lack of large scale conventional naval warfare since 1945, with the USN's role being primarily that of power projection, the submarine service did not fire weapons in anger for very many years. The development of a new generation of cruise missiles changed that. The BGM-109 Tomahawk missile was developed to give naval vessels a long range land attack capability. Other than direct shore bombardment, and strikes by aircraft flying off carriers, the ability of naval vessels to influence warfare on land was limited.
Now, instead of being limited to firing shells less than 20 miles inland from guns, any naval vessel fitted with the Tomahawk could hit targets up to 1,000 miles inland. The mainstay of the Tomahawk equipped vessels in the early days of the missile's deployment were the Iowa class battleships, and the submarine fleet. The Tomahawk was first used in combat on 17 January 1991, on the opening night of Operation Desert Storm. On that day, for the first time since the surrender of Japan in 1945, an American submarine fired in anger when Tomahawks were launched by US boats in the eastern Mediterranean.
Since then, the Tomahawk has become a staple of American campaigns. It has seen use in no less than three separate wars. It has also been exported to the United Kingdom, which has also fitted it to submarines. The Tomahawk has seen a change in the design of attack submarines. At first it was fired through torpedo tubes, but more recent US boats have been fitted with vertical launch systems to enable them to carry more of the weapons.
In the early 21st century, the USN submarine fleet is made up entirely of nuclear powered vessels. It is the most powerful of its type in the world. However, there are those who worry that there are not enough boats in the fleet. As with other branches of the US military the budget cuts of the late 1980s and the early 1990s, as the Cold War ended, followed up by the War on Terrorism, have left little or no slack in the system. This point is illustrated by the fact that in 2003, for the first time since 1945, a US submarine made two back-to-back war patrols.
- Norfolk, Virginia — The largest Naval base in the world, situated in southeastern Virginia. This is the main port on the Eastern Seaboard.
- Pearl Harbor, Hawaii — A deep water naval base and headquarters of the Pacific Fleet
- San Diego, California — A large complex of Navy bases, and the primary port for ships on the West Coast of the United States
- Naval Base Kitsap, Washington — Home base for Ohio Class nuclear missile submarines in the Pacific Ocean
- Naval Station Mayport, Florida
- Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada
- Guantanamo Bay — A small section on the south coast of Cuba is leased by the United States and used as a naval base.
- Neil Armstrong — astronaut, first man on the moon
- George H. W. Bush — former U.S. President, youngest Naval Aviator in World War II, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency
- Jimmy Carter — former U.S. President, Cold War submariner and Peace Prize laureate
- Vern Clark — current Chief of Naval Operations
- George Dewey — Hero of the Battle of Manila Bay in Spanish-American War
- David Farragut — American Civil War Admiral
- Wilson Flagg — retired Admiral, killed in Sept 11 attack
- Gerald Ford — former President of the United States served aboard carrier during World War II
- Lyndon B. Johnson — President of the United States worked as a bomb observer with the Army during World War II.
- John Paul Jones — commander during the American Revolutionary War
- John F. Kennedy — former U.S. President, decorated PT Boat commander in World War II
- John Kerry — current junior United States Senator from Massachusetts and 2004 Democratic presidential candidate, decorated swift boat commander during the Vietnam War
- Richard Marcinko, author, founder and commander of SEAL Team Six
- Richard M. Nixon — former U.S. President, supply officer in World War II
- Matthew Perry — Commodore who forced the opening of Japan
- Hyman G. Rickover — Admiral, "Father of the Nuclear Navy"
- Jesse Ventura — actor, professional wrestler, Governor of Minnesota
- John Young — Naval Aviator and Gemini, Apollo, and Space Shuttle astronaut
- Continental Navy
- Electronics Technician rating
- Seabees, US Navy Construction Battalions, hence CBs
- Navy SEAL, special forces
- Fleet Week
- Ship-Submarine recycling program
- U.S. Navy officer rank insignia
- U.S. Navy enlisted rate insignia
- Awards and decorations of the United States military
- Military badges of the United States
- United States armed forces
- United States Secretary of the Navy
- Comparative military ranks
- List of United States Navy bases
- List of active Navy ships, sorted by homeport
- List of units of the United States Navy
- Official U.S. Navy Website
- Naval Open Source Intelligence (NOSI) — a digital library of world naval operational news, curated from open source intelligence, and intended to serve as a source of continuing education on naval and military affairs
- US Navy in WW II — a web site devoted to the US navy in the Pacific theater during World War II