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Oct. 13 1775 Continental Congress orders construction of a naval fleet

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Happy 243rd Birthday to the U.S. Navy!

The U.S. Navy turns 243 years-old tomorrow. On October 13, 1775, the Continental Congress commissioned two ships, each with eighty sailors, “for intercepting such transports as may be laden with warlike stores and other supplies for our enemies.” The foe at the time was Great Britain, whose navy ruled the seas. By the end of the Revolutionary War, the Continental Navy had grown to about fifty ships. In 1789, the U.S. Constitution guaranteed the navy’s future by granting Congress the power “To provide and maintain a navy.”

George Washington once said that “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.” Those words are even more appropriate in the twenty-first century when U.S. interests span the globe. To serve and protect those interests the U.S. Navy today has 286 deployable ships, more than 3,700 operational aircraft, 328,267 active duty personnel, 98,748 reserve personnel, and more than 210,000 civilian employees.

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