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United States Navy

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The United States Navy is the branch of the United States armed forces responsible for naval operations.

Table of contents

Creation of the US Navy

The United States Navy traces its origins to the Continental Navy, which the Continental Congress established on October 13, 1775 by authorizing 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 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. The Constitution of the United States, ratified in 1789, empowered Congress "to provide and maintain a navy." Acting on this authority, Congress ordered the construction and manning of six frigates on March 27, 1794 and in 1797 the first three frigates, USS United States, USS Constellation and USS Constitution went into service.

The War Department administered naval affairs from that year until Congress established the Department of the Navy on April 30, 1798.

History of the US Navy

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The US navy in World War II

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Development of modern US Navy power

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Submarine warfare and the US submarine nuclear deterrent

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Ships of the US Navy

The names of combat ships of the US Navy all start with USS, meaning 'United States Ship'. Non-combat, civilian-manned vessels of the US Navy have names that begin with USNS, standing for 'United States Navy Ship'.

The US Navy uses a letter based Hull classification symbol to designate a vessel's type.

Modern large ships use nuclear reactors for power. See United States Naval reactor for information on classification schemes and the history of nuclear powered vessels.

Notable Ships

(See List of ships of the United States Navy for a more complete listing.)

Aircraft carriers are the major strategic arm of the Navy. They put US air power within reach of most land-based military power.

Submarines are the other major strategic arm of the Navy as they can be used directly to control naval and shipping activity by other powers as well as serving as missile-launching platforms.






Early Vessels

  • 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 Husitania with its spar-mounted torpedo, but was sunk during or soon after the same battle, with all hands on board.

Weapons Systems

Naval Aircraft

Notable members of the US Navy

See Also

Naval Bases

  • Guantanamo Bay - small section on the south coast of Cuba is being leased by the United States and is used as a naval base.

External Links

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