The United States Navy was formed in 1775 to fight the British in the Revolutionary War, with just two vessels in use and 13 approved for production. Today, the Navy has hundreds of ships and more than a half million total personnel at the ready.
The 2020 budget request by the Pentagon for the U.S. Navy is $205.6 billion. The department application is reportedly the most considerable service request for any federal department for the fiscal year. This year, the Pentagon requested $3.5 billion for infrastructure, $20.4 for research and development, $52.1 for personnel, $68.5 for operation and maintenance and $61.1 for procurement. Funding for the U.S. Marine Corps, which is part of the U.S. Navy, is also included in this budget.
When oversight of the Navy was placed with the Secretary of Defense under the National Security Act of 1947, the Secretary of Defense became the single supervisor for all of the armed forces. The Department of the Navy also oversees the Marines and assumes operational control of the Coast Guard from Homeland Security during wartime. They are responsible for transporting Marines to war, as well as launching air and sea attacks from miles away. In times of peace, the presence of the Navy helps keep American and global shipping interests safe.
The official blog of the U.S. Navy reported in March that, of the $68.5 billion budget request for operation and maintenance, “$57.8 billion would be used specifically for the Navy, including ship operations ($19.1 billion) and air operations ($11.7 billion).” The Navy is currently in the process of integrating its new Virginia-class group of nuclear attack submarines into the fleet, with the first of these subs delivered in 2017 and slated to be in operation until the 2060s.
There are several specialized groups within the Navy, from the Blue Angels, a group of 16 aerobatic fighter pilots, to the Navy Seals, who are responsible for stealth operations around the globe.
Regardless of the present numbering in the Navy, their recruitment and overall force continue to meet and exceed expectations.
Read on to find out more about the U.S. Navy by the numbers.
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As of June 2019, the Navy reported 332,507 active personnel—that's about half the population of Vermont. Making up the Navy’s general workforce are 273,832 enlisted sailors spread across dozens of jobs; 54,263 officers with college degrees in diverse fields; and 4,412 midshipmen (a junior-rank naval cadet in training).
Superintendent Vice Adm. Walter “Ted” Carter told the 1,052 graduating midshipmen in May that, “by almost every measure,” they were the top graduating class of the United States Naval Academy, the Capital Gazette reported. The class attained a record graduation rate of 89.9% and boasts a record 81 graduates already enrolled in graduate school.
In April, CNBC reported the Pentagon's request of $34.7 billion this year was “the largest request in more than 20 years for shipbuilding, to grow and modernize the Navy's fleet.” Three vehicles the Pentagon is pushing for are a trio of Virginia-class submarines worth $10.2 billion. The Virginia class, one of three Navy submarine types including the Los Angeles and Seawolf, is a cutting-edge vessel designed to remain operational its whole life, reports the U.S. Navy.
Ten nuclear-powered aircraft carriers make up the Nimitz class, which began with the ship USS Nimitz in 1975 and ended with the aircraft carrier USS George HW Bush (CVN 77) in 2009. The most massive warships ever constructed, the Nimitz class requires more than 6,000 personnel to service. These aircraft carriers are named after a former U.S. president and important Naval figures, with the first named after U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz.
While there are 289 deployable ships at the ready, only 170 Navy ships are actively deployed. Ships fall under three categories while on a mission: battle force submarines, ships underway, and ships for local ops and training. The U.S. Navy Institute May 2019 Fleet and Maritime Tracker watches all U.S. Navy ships, which are presently stationed around the world, specifically in the Gulfs of Alaska, Oman, and Aden.
Of the 2,341 U.S. military personnel killed in the December 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, almost half served on the USS Arizona. There were 37 sets of brothers on the USS Arizona when the Japanese bombed it, prompting the Navy to release a bulletin warning family members away from serving on the same ship together.
The highest rank in the U.S. Navy is a five-star fleet admiral, a rank which hasn't been used since World War II and is reserved for wartime purposes only—but there are 10 other titles to conquer after becoming a commissioned officer. Junior officers, from an O-1 classified ensign to an O-4 lieutenant commander, can make up to $92,000 per year, while an O-5 or O-6 senior officer can earn upwards of $135,000. Michelle Howard was the first woman to achieve a ranking of O-10 Four-Star Fleet Admiral.
The 21-gun salute, a famous U.S. military custom, comes from the Navy: ships volley fired with soldiers on shore to confirm peace. “Land batteries, having a greater supply of gunpowder, were able to fire three guns for every shot fired afloat, hence the salute by shore batteries was 21 guns,” reports the U.S. Army Center of Military History. Furthermore, Naval laws only allow 21-gun salutes nominated by the Secretary of the Navy for specific ships or stations they govern as the leader.
There were seven methods of past torture for sailors, including confinement with only bread and water, which was finally outlawed in 2019, according to reporting from the New York Times. Other methods included mast-heading, sending a sailor to sit at the head of the ship alone; caning, hitting the sailor in the head with a walking stick; birching, hitting sailors with bunches of birch sticks; flogging, whipping sailors with cat ‘o nine tails while tied to the mast; keelhauling, dragging a sailor underneath a ship; and hanging. Suprisingly, there are no actual records of forcing prisoners to walk the plank.
You do not have to be in the Navy or Marines to work for the U.S. Armed Forces, as 274,854 Americans are not. As a matter of fact, the Secretary of the Navy encourages civilians to consider employment with them on the department website, citing jobs as varied as zoologist and pipefitter. The DoD presents the Distinguished Civilian Service Award at a Pentagon ceremony for any non-militant department member who displays excellent value to the military branch.
There are three U.S. Navy aircraft carriers underway, including the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) Atlantic; USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) - sixth fleet; and the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) West Pacific. The U.S. Naval Institute reported in May that the USS Abraham Lincoln accelerated its transit through the Red Sea due to alleged Iran military threats against the U.S.
Getting troops from the sea to the ground is the job of the Navy's eight Wasp class amphibious assault carriers. Currently three, the USS Wasp (LHD 1), USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) and USS Boxer (LHD 4), are actively deployed and capable of delivering up to 1,700 troops for transport to shore. The USS America is the first of the America class of amphibious vehicles to be in service, with up to 11 being commissioned to replace the Wasp's predecessor, the Tarzawa class.
The Naval Construction Force (NCF) was formed in 1942, officially designating United States Naval Construction Battalions, also called Seabees, as the builders for all Naval and Marine infrastructure during World War II. What started out as building advance bases in war zones became much more as Seabees assisted with building the Hoover Dam as well as a number of New York skyscrapers and national roadways.
A major overhaul of U.S. government military and intelligence agencies happened this year, placing the Navy, Army, and Airforce officially under the rule of the Secretary of Defense. Unifying the separate military services under the Department of Defense created the National Military Establishment in 1947. The same year, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was formed to better protect the national security of the U.S.
Every submariner who helps guides large Navy vessels in the deep dark ocean is a volunteer. But not anyone can apply: all volunteers must meet physical and psychological requirements before attending the Naval Submarine School in Connecticut. “Only after passing a tough final exam that requires them to operate most of the ship's systems do they receive the coveted dolphin insignia of the qualified submarine,” reports the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.
The U.S. Navy Sea, Air, and Land Forces (SEALs) are the primary special operations force for the military branch, created in 1962 by President Kennedy as the maritime counterpart to the Green Berets. SEALs are trained in small units (from just one or two men up to 16 in a platoon). Only 1% of Navy personnel are active-duty SEALs.
The U.S. Navy Blue Angels, established in 1946, is the demonstrating aerobatic squadron that performs nationwide every year with funding from the Department of Defense. Made up of only 16 members, “each year the team typically selects three tactical (fighter or fighter/attack) jet pilots, two support officers and one Marine Corps C-130 pilot to relieve departing members,” reports the U.S. Navy Blue Angels. The Blue Angels have performed for almost 500 million fans since their first 1946 flight.
The Navy Midshipmen football team, which first played in 1879, has been Notre Dame's top rival for at least 91 years. The U.S. Navy in 2017 overturned its decision permitting cadets to be drafted into the NFL directly after graduation and now requires them to serve active duty before a draft.
Women today serve in every rank of the U.S. Navy (from seaman to admiral) and perform all jobs ranging from naval aviator to deep-sea diver. Women began taking on these roles in 1942, when Congress created a women's branch of the U.S. Naval Reserve with the United States Naval Reserve, better known as the WAVES (“Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service”). The first four-star female admiral in the U.S. Navy, Michelle Howard, retired in 2017.
Six U.S. presidents served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. They include John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and George H.W. Bush. Additionally, Lyndon B. Johnson was a sitting member of Congress when he briefly served in New Zealand and Australia after the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. He would later become president after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
There are 191 civilian-run, Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) locations throughout the world, covering 41 countries. Unlike the CBS show of the same name, the service has 2,000 personnel, half of which are special federal agents. The NCIS' head reports directly to the Secretary of the Navy.
The Navy was reportedly outnumbered by 40-1 with only 16 ships in the War of 1812 against Great Britain. The Royal Navy had 140,000 hired seamen, among them 31,000 marines; meanwhile, the young U.S. Navy had just 5,000 seamen and 1,000 marines.
The Martin JMS-3 Mars was a series of seven flying boats built in 1938 for the Navy to carry cargo and personnel and patrol the oceans on long-range missions during World War II. With a 200-foot wingspan, the Mars series could carry up to 133 soldiers. The planes were decommissioned in 1956 and found new life in Canada as fire-fighting water bombers.
At least four states—including Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Maine—claim to be the birthplace of the U.S. Navy, but only one is. The Naval History and Heritage Commission states Continental Congress's resolution in 1775 for construction of two armed vessels took place in Philadelphia.
In an effort to keep the British from seizing ports and stopping trade to the colonies, the Continental Congress voted on Oct. 13, 1775, to outfit a pair of sailing ships with guns, thus forming the Continental Navy. It was disbanded shortly after the Revolutionary War, but was reinstated by President George Washington in 1794 to protect American ships from pirates off the African coast. The USS Constitution, one of the original six frigates commissioned by the Naval Armament Act of 1794, is still floating and serves as a museum.