Today is the US Navy's 236th Birthday. Find a Navy service member, Navy Vet, Navy Family (especially the children), and thank them for their service and sacrifices -- past, present, and future. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined.
The U.S. Navy also has the world's largest carrier fleet, with 11 in service, one under construction (two planned), and one in reserve. The service had 328,516 personnel on active duty and 101,689 in the Navy Reserve in January 2011. It operates 286 ships in active service and more than 3,700 aircraft. The Navy traces its origins to the Continental Navy, which was established during the American Revolutionary War and was essentially disbanded as a separate entity shortly thereafter. The United States Constitution provided the legal basis for a military force by giving Congress the power "to provide and maintain a navy." (more here)
Interestingly (though hardly surprising), it was relentless attacks by Muslim countries on US ships that was the catalyst to establish the US Navy:
In the Mediterranean, the corsairs of the Barbary states began to prey on U.S. merchant ships, no longer protected by the Royal Navy. Ships and cargoes were captured, and U.S. seamen were ransomed or sold into slavery. Although the number of ships and seamen actually lost were few, the psychological effect on Americans was marked. Among the possible responses that the United States debated were paying the Barbary states [jizya] to spare U.S. commerce from attacks and building a small navy to protect trade.
The debate over naval policy was both economic and philosophical. Many Americans, among them Thomas Jefferson, later minister to the French court from 1785 to 1789, favored a naval response. Jefferson wrote in the fall of 1784: "We ought to begin a naval power, if we mean to carry on our commerce. Can we begin it on a more honorable occasion, or with a weaker foe?" (more here.)
The US Navy fought the first foreign war against the jihad in North Africa (the first and second Barbary wars).
Depredations against U.S. shipping by Barbary Coast pirates in the Mediterranean Sea spurred Congress to employ this power by passing the Naval Act of 1794 ordering the construction and manning of six frigates. These ships were used to end most pirate activity off the Barbary Coast. In the 20th century American blue-water navy capability was demonstrated by the 1907–1909 world tour of the Great White Fleet.
NORFOLK (Oct. 12, 2011) Cmdr. Drew Ehlers, commanding officer of the guided-missile destroyer USS Cole (DDG 67), and Sailors assigned to Cole salute after the presentation of a wreath at the USS Cole Memorial during a ceremony at Naval Station Norfolk. The Norfolk-based ship was damaged by a suicide bombing Oct. 12, 2000 while refueling in the Port of Aden in Yemen, killing 17 and wounding 39 Sailors. Cole returned to the fleet in 2002 and has deployed four times since the attack. (U.S. Navy photo by Ensign Elizabeth Williams/Released)
From Commander, Naval Surface Force Atlantic Public Affairs
NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- Seventeen Sailors killed aboard guided-missile destroyer USS Cole (DDG 67) when it was attacked by terrorists in the Yemeni port of Aden 11 years ago on this date were honored in a ceremony Oct. 12, 2011.
The ceremony was held on board Naval Station Norfolk at the Cole Memorial site along the shores of the Elizabeth River. Present and former Cole crew members, family and friends were invited to reflect and memorialize their shipmates and loved ones during the ceremony which included a wreath-laying and reading the names of those who sacrificed their lives. Each individual's name was read, followed by a bell-ringing and a moment of silence.
"Today USS Cole is not a museum; she is not a memorial. She is a living, breathing, fighting warship, and she is so because those Sailors refused to give up the ship," said Cmdr. Drew Ehlers, Cole's current commanding officer. "Over the last year and a half it has been my great honor to command the USS Cole, and I am humbled in the knowledge that I share a history with those 'hero Sailors' of October, 2000."
Surviving members of that Cole crew have become a tight-knit group with family members of the Cole "hero Sailors." They convene each year to console one another.
"It hurts so bad that I lost my son, and there is a lot of pain and tears in that, but I have to come to represent him," commented Dianne McDaniels whose son Seaman James R. McDaniels lost his life in the attack. "It makes me feel good to come to this ceremony because there are others who know what I'm going through."
"The fellowship is good, but it is a sad time for family, friends and shipmates," added Master Chief Sonar Technician (SW) Paul Abney, who was trapped in the chiefs mess at the time of the attack.
"They are all in our hearts and close to us. We will also remember our heroes: the Marines, the HMS Marlborough, the USS Donald Cook, the shipyard workers, and all those who came over and helped us after the attack. They're all our heroes."
At the Cole Memorial site, 17 low-level markers stand for the youthfulness of the Sailors, whose lives were cut short. Three tall, granite monoliths, each bearing brass plaques, stand for the three colors of the American flag. A set of brown markers encircling the memorial symbolize the darkness and despair that overcame the ship. In addition, 28 black pine trees were planted to represent the 17 Sailors and the 11 children they left behind.
The memorial was funded by contributions from thousands of private individuals and businesses to the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, which gifted the memorial to the Navy. Its design originated as a vision of USS Cole crew members, who then teamed with Navy architects and the Society to finalize the project.
Some gave all, some still are, NEVER forget!