The Navy’s Birthday falls on October 13th and celebrates it’s establishment in 1775.
At the start of the Revolutionary War, the United States didn’t have a full-time navy. In fact, the defense of America’s coastlines was mainly left up to the Navy of Massachusetts. However, the Continental Congress decided that establishing a national navy was worth investigating and congressmen began to take sides on both sides of the issue. Proponents of establishing a navy felt that a national navy would do a better job of protecting shipping and defending the coast. Opponents felt that it would be impossible to erect a navy that could compete with the British Royal Navy. The matter was eventually decided when George Washington decided to commission the schooner, the USS Hannah on October 13th, 1775.
While the Continental Navy was occasionally successful at intercepting and raiding British merchant vessels, it also lost as many of its own ships as it captured of the enemies. By the end of the war, the Continental Navy was disbanded.
However, not having a standing navy left the United States open to attacks by Barbary pirates. While the U.S did have the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service (USRCS) during the 1790s, they were not sufficient to defend the coast against these pirates. Fortunately, The Naval Act was established in October of 1797 and this would become the navy as we know it today. By 1800, three ships had been commissioned and pressed into service. These three ships were the USS Constitution, USS United States and the USS Constellation.
The Navy’s Birthday was established as an official holiday when Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt authorized the recognition of October 13th as the official birthday of the United States Navy in 1972. It was designed as an internal holiday for current naval members, former naval members and dependents of both active service and retired members.
Happy Birthday to the US Navy!
NCUSA Commandant 2018