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The United States Navy (USN) is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the 

seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest and most capable navy in the world,[5][6][7] with the 

highest combined battle fleet tonnage.[8][9] The U.S. Navy has the world's largest aircraft carrier fleet, with eleven in service, and 

two new carriers under construction. With 319,421 personnel on active duty and 99,616 in the Ready Reserve, the Navy is the 

third largest of the service branches. It has 282 deployable combat vessels and more than 3,700 operational aircraft as of 

March 2018.[2][10]

The U.S. Navy traces its origins to the Continental Navy, which was established during the American Revolutionary War and was 

effectively disbanded as a separate entity shortly thereafter. The U.S. Navy played a major role in the American Civil War by 

blockading the Confederacy and seizing control of its rivers. It played the central role in the World War II defeat of Imperial 

Japan. The 21st century U.S. Navy maintains a sizable global presence, deploying in strength in such areas as the 

Western Pacific, the Mediterranean, and the Indian Ocean. It is a blue-water navy with the ability to project force onto the littoral 

regions of the world, engage in forward deployments during peacetime and rapidly respond to regional crises, making it a 

frequent actor in U.S. foreign and military policy.

The Navy is administratively managed by the Department of the Navy, which is headed by the civilian Secretary of the Navy

The Department of the Navy is itself a division of the Department of Defense, which is headed by the Secretary of Defense

The Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) is the most senior naval officer serving in the Department of the Navy.[11]


The mission of the Navy is to maintain, train and equip combat-ready Naval forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression and maintaining freedom of the seas.

— Mission statement of the United States Navy[12]

The U.S. Navy is a seaborne branch of the military of the United States. The Navy's three primary areas of responsibility:[13]

  • The preparation of naval forces necessary for the effective prosecution of war.

  • The maintenance of naval aviation, including land-based naval aviation, air transport essential for naval operations, and all air weapons and air techniques involved in the operations and activities of the Navy.

  • The development of aircraft, weapons, tactics, technique, organization, and equipment of naval combat and service elements.

U.S. Navy training manuals state that the mission of the U.S. Armed Forces is "to prepare and conduct prompt and sustained 

combat operations in support of the national interest. "As part of that establishment, the U.S. Navy's functions comprise sea 

controlpower projection and nuclear deterrence, in addition to "sealift" duties.[14]


Main article: History of the United States Navy


It follows then as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious.

— George Washington[15]

The Navy was rooted in the colonial seafaring tradition, which produced a large community of sailors, captains, and 

shipbuilders.[16] In the early stages of the American Revolutionary WarMassachusetts had its own Massachusetts Naval Militia

The rationale for establishing a national navy was debated in the SecondContinental Congress. Supporters argued that a navy 

would protect shipping, defend the coast, and make it easier to seek out support from foreign countries. Detractors countered 

that challenging the British Royal Navy, then the world's preeminent naval power, was a foolish undertaking. Commander in 

Chief George Washington resolved the debate when he commissioned the ocean-going schooner USS Hannah to interdict 

British merchant ships, and reported the captures to the Congress. On 13 October 1775, the Continental Congress authorized 

the purchase of two vessels to be armed for a cruise against British merchant ships; this resolution created the Continental 

Navy and is considered the first establishment of the U.S. Navy.[17] The Continental Navy achieved mixed results; it was 

successful in a number of engagements and raided many British merchant vessels, but it lost twenty-four of its vessels[18] and 

at one point was reduced to two in active service.[19] In August 1785, after the Revolutionary War had drawn to a 

close, Congress had sold Alliance, the last ship remaining in the Continental Navy due to a lack of funds to maintain the ship or 

support a navy.[20][21]

In 1972, the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, authorized the Navy to celebrate its birthday on 13 October to 

honor the establishment of the Continental Navy in 1775.[22][17]

From re-establishment to the Civil War

The United States was without a navy for nearly a decade, a state of affairs that exposed U.S. maritime merchant ships to a 

series of attacks by the Barbary pirates. The sole armed maritime presence between 1790 and the launching of the U.S. Navy's 

first warships in 1797 was the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service (USRCS), the primary predecessor of the U.S. Coast Guard

Although the USRCS conducted operations against the pirates, their depredations far outstripped its abilities and Congress 

passed the Naval Act of 1794 that established a permanent standing navy on 27 March 1794.[23] The Naval Act ordered the 

construction and manning of six frigates and, by October 1797,[18] the first three were brought into service: USS United 

StatesUSS Constellation, and USS Constitution. Due to his strong posture on having a strong standing Navy during this 

period, John Adams is "often called the father of the American Navy".[24] In 1798–99 the Navy was involved in an 

undeclared Quasi-War with France.[25] From 1801 to 1805, in the First Barbary War, the U.S. Navy defended U.S. ships from 

the Barbary pirates, blockaded the Barbary ports and executed attacks against the Barbary' fleets.

The U.S. Navy saw substantial action in the War of 1812, where it was victorious in eleven single-ship duels with the Royal Navy. 

It drove all significant British forces off Lake Erie and Lake Champlain and prevented them from becoming British-controlled 

zones. The result was a major defeat for the British invasion of New York state, and the defeat of the military threat from the 

Native American allies of the British. Despite this, the U.S. Navy was unable to prevent the British from blockading its ports and 

landing troops.[26] Aut after the War of 1812 ended in 1815, the U.S. Navy primarily focused its attention on protecting American 

shipping assets, sending squadrons to the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, where it participated in the Second Barbary War that 

ended piracy in the region, South America, Africa, and the Pacific.[18] From 1819 to the outbreak of the Civil War, the Africa 

Squadron operated to suppress the slave trade, seizing 36 slave ships, although its contribution was smaller than that of the 

much larger British Royal Navy.

During the Mexican–American War the U.S. Navy blockaded Mexican ports, capturing or burning the Mexican fleet in the Gulf of 

California and capturing all major cities in Baja California peninsula. In 1846–1848 the Navy successfully used the Pacific 

Squadron under Commodore Robert Stockton and its marines and blue-jackets to facilitate the capture of California with large 

scale land operations coordinated with the local militia organized in the California Battalion. The Navy conducted the U.S. 

military's first large-scale amphibious joint operation by successfully landing 12,000 army troops with their equipment in one day 

at Veracruz, Mexico. When larger guns were needed to bombard Veracruz, Navy volunteers landed large guns and manned 

them in the successful bombardment and capture of the city. This successful landing and capture of Veracruz opened the way 

for the capture of Mexico City and the end of the war.[26] The U.S. Navy established itself as a player in United States foreign 

policy through the actions of Commodore Matthew Perry in Japan, which resulted in the Convention of Kanagawa in 1854.

Naval power played a significant role during the American Civil War, in which the Union had a distinct advantage over 

the Confederacy on the seas.[26] A Union blockade on all major ports shut down exports and the coastal trade, but blockade 

runners (mostly owned and operated by British companies) provided a thin lifeline. The Brown-water navy's control of the river 

systems made internal travel difficult for Confederates and easy for the Union. The war saw ironclad warships in combat for the 

first time at the Battle of Hampton Roads in 1862, which pitted USS Monitor against CSS Virginia.[27] For two decades after the 

war, however, the U.S. Navy's fleet was neglected and became technologically obsolete