United States Navy
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, most capable navy in the world, with the highest combined battle fleet tonnage. The U.S. Navy has the world's largest aircraft carrier fleet, with ten in service, two in the reserve fleet, and three new carriers under construction. The service has 328,194 personnel on active duty and 101,199 in the Navy Reserve. It has 272 deployable combat vessels and more than 3,700 aircraft in active service as of February 2016.
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. It 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 such areas as East Asia, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East. It is a blue-water navy with the ability to project force onto the littoral regions of the world, engage in forward areas during peacetime, and rapidly respond to regional crises, making it an active player in U.S. foreign and defense 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 a four-star admiral and the senior naval officer of the Department of the Navy. However, the CNO may not be the highest ranking naval officer in the armed forces if the Chairman or the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are Navy officers, who by law, outrank the CNO.
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
From the New Recruits Handbook:
The mission of the United States Navy is to protect and defend the right of the United States and our allies to move freely on the oceans and to protect our country against her enemies.
The United States Navy is a seaborne branch of the military of the United States. The Navy's three primary areas of responsibility:
- 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 control, power projection and nuclear deterrence, in addition to "sealift" duties.
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.
The Navy was rooted in the American seafaring tradition, which produced a large community of sailors, captains, and shipbuilders in the colonial era. In the early stages of the American Revolutionary War, Massachusetts had its own navy. The establishment of a national navy was an issue of debate among the members of the Second Continental 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. The US Navy recognizes 13 October 1775 as the date of its official establishment — the date of the resolution of the Continental Congress that purchased two vessels to be armed against British ships.
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 and at one point was reduced to two in active service. The Continental Navy was disbanded at war's end.
From reestablishment to the Civil War
The United States was without a navy for nearly a decade—a state of affairs that exposed its merchant ships to a series of attacks by 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 USRCS Cutters conducted operations against these pirates, the depredations far outstripped the abilities of the USRCS and Congress passed the Naval Act of 1794 which established a permanent standing navy. The Naval Act ordered the construction and manning of six frigates and, by October 1797; three years later, the first three were welcomed into service: USS United States, USS Constellation, and USS Constitution. In 1798–99 the Navy was involved in an undeclared Quasi-War with France.
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. The navy drove all significant British forces off Lake Erie and Lake Champlain and prevented them from becoming British controlled zones of conflict. The result was a major defeat for the British invasion of New York state, and the defeat of the military threat from the Indian allies of the British. Despite this, the U.S. Navy was unable to prevent the British from blockading American ports and landing troops on American soil. After the war, the U.S. Navy again focused its attention on protecting American shipping assets, sending squadrons to the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, South America, Africa, and the Pacific. 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 contributed by instituting blockades of Mexican ports, capturing or burning the Mexican fleet in the Gulf of California and capturing all major cities in Baja California peninsula—later returned. In 1846–1848 the navy successfully used the Pacific Squadron under Commodore (Rear Admiral) 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 navy 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. The United States Navy established itself as a player in American 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. 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. For two decades after the war, however, the U.S. Navy's fleet was neglected and became technologically obsolete.
A modernization program beginning in the 1880s when the first steel hulled warships stimulated the American steel industry, and "the new steel navy" was born. This rapid expansion of the U.S. Navy and its easy victory over the Spanish Navy in 1898 brought a new respect for American technical quality. Rapid building of at first pre-dreadnoughts, then dreadnoughts brought the U.S. in line with the navies of countries such as Britain and Germany. In 1907, most of the Navy's battleships, with several support vessels, dubbed the Great White Fleet, were showcased in a 14-month circumnavigation of the world. Ordered by President Theodore Roosevelt, it was a mission designed to demonstrate the Navy's capability to extend to the global theater. By 1911, the U.S. had begun building the super-dreadnoughts at a pace to eventually become competitive with Britain.
World War I and interwar years
The U.S. Navy saw little action during World War I. It concentrated on mine laying operations against German U-Boats. Hesitation by the senior command meant that naval forces were not contributed until late 1917. Battleship Division Nine was dispatched to Britain and served as the Sixth Battle Squadron of the British Grand Fleet. Its presence allowed the British to decommission some older ships and reuse the crews on smaller vessels. Destroyers and U.S. Naval Air Force units contributed to the anti-submarine operations. The strength of the United States Navy grew under an ambitious ship building program associated with the Naval Act of 1916.
Naval construction, especially of battleships was limited by the Washington Naval Conference of 1921–22. The aircraft carriers USS Saratoga (CV-3) and USS Lexington (CV-2) were built on the hulls of partially built battle cruisers that had been canceled by the treaty. The New Deal used Public Works Administration funds to build warships, such as USS Yorktown (CV-5) and USS Enterprise (CV-6). By 1936, with the completion of USS Wasp (CV-7), the U.S. Navy possessed a carrier fleet of 165,000 tonnes displacement, although this figure was nominally recorded as 135,000 tonnes to comply with treaty limitations. Franklin Roosevelt, the number two official in the Navy Department during World War I, appreciated the Navy and gave it strong support. In return, senior leaders were eager for innovation and experimented with new technologies, such as magnetic torpedoes, and developed a strategy called War Plan Orange for victory in the Pacific in a hypothetical war with Japan that would eventually become reality.
World War II
The U.S. Navy grew into a formidable force in the years prior to World War II, with battleship production being restarted in 1937, commencing with USS North Carolina (BB-55). Though ultimately unsuccessful, Japan attempted to neutralize this strategic threat with the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. Following American entry into the war, the U.S. Navy grew tremendously as the United States was faced with a two-front war on the seas. It achieved notable acclaim in the Pacific Theater, where it was instrumental to the Allies' successful "island hopping" campaign. The U.S. Navy participated in many significant battles, including the Battle of the Coral Sea, the Battle of Midway, the Solomon Islands Campaign, the Battle of the Philippine Sea, the Battle of Leyte Gulf, and the Battle of Okinawa. By war's end in 1945, the United States Navy had added hundreds of new ships, including 18 aircraft carriers and 8 battleships, and had over 70% of the world's total numbers and total tonnage of naval vessels of 1,000 tons or greater. At its peak, the U.S. Navy was operating 6,768 ships on V-J Day in August 1945.
Doctrine had significantly shifted by the end of the war. The United States Navy had followed in the footsteps of the navies of Great Britain and Germany which favored concentrated groups of battleships as their main offensive naval weapons. The development of the aircraft carrier and its devastating utilization by the Japanese against the U.S. at Pearl Harbor, however, shifted U.S. thinking. The Pearl Harbor attack destroyed or took out of action a significant number of U.S. Navy battleships. This placed much of the burden of retaliating against the Japanese on the small number of aircraft carriers.
The potential for armed conflict with the Soviet Union during the Cold War pushed the U.S. Navy to continue its technological advancement by developing new weapons systems, ships, and aircraft. United States naval strategy changed to that of forward deployment in support of U.S. allies with an emphasis on carrier battle groups.
The navy was a major participant in the Vietnam War, blockaded Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and, through the use of ballistic missile submarines, became an important aspect of the United States' nuclear strategic deterrence policy. The United States Navy conducted various combat operations in the Persian Gulf against Iran in 1987 and 1988, most notably Operation Praying Mantis. The Navy was extensively involved in Operation Urgent Fury, Operation Desert Shield, Operation Desert Storm, Operation Deliberate Force, Operation Allied Force, Operation Desert Fox and Operation Southern Watch.
The U.S. Navy has also been involved in search and rescue/search and salvage operations, sometimes in conjunction with vessels of other countries as well as with U.S. Coast Guard ships. Two examples are the 1966 Palomares B-52 crash incident and search for the nuclear bombs, and Task Force 71 of the Seventh Fleet operation in search for Korean Air Lines Flight 007 shot down by the Soviets on 1 September 1983.
When a crisis confronts the nation, the first question often asked by policymakers is: 'What naval forces are available and how fast can they be on station?'
The United States Navy continues to be a major support to U.S. interests in the 21st century. Since the end of the Cold War, it has shifted its focus from preparations for large-scale war with the Soviet Union to special operations and strike missions in regional conflicts. The navy participated in Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and is a major participant in the ongoing War on Terror, largely in this capacity. Development continues on new ships and weapons, including the Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier and the Littoral combat ship. Because of its size, weapons technology, and ability to project force far from U.S. shores, the current U.S. Navy remains a potent asset for the United States.
In 2007, the U.S. Navy joined with the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Coast Guard to adopt a new maritime strategy called A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower that raises the notion of prevention of war to the same philosophical level as the conduct of war. The strategy was presented by the Chief of Naval Operations, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, and Commandant of the Coast Guard at the International Sea Power Symposium in Newport, RI on 17 October 2007. The strategy recognized the economic links of the global system and how any disruption due to regional crises—man-made or natural—can adversely impact the U.S. economy and quality of life. This new strategy charts a course for the Navy, Coast Guard, and Marine Corps to work collectively with each other and international partners to prevent these crises from occurring or reacting quickly should one occur to prevent negative impacts on the U.S.
In 2010, Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Gary Roughead, noted that demands on the Navy have grown as the fleet has shrunk and that in the face of declining budgets in the future, the U.S. Navy must rely even more on international partnerships.
In its 2013 budget request, the navy focused on retaining all eleven big deck carriers, at the expense of cutting numbers of smaller ships and delaying the SSBN replacement. By the next year the USN found itself unable to maintain eleven aircraft carriers in the face of the expiration of budget relief offered by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 and CNO Jonathan Greenert said that a ten ship carrier fleet would not be able to sustainably support military requirements. First Sea Lord George Zambellas said that the USN had switched from "outcome-led to resource-led" planning.
The U.S. Navy currently has a three-step plan to boost the fleets' firepower: in the near-term, develop the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile to create a surface-launched, over-the-horizon cruise missile with greater coverage than the 75 mi (121 km)-ranged Harpoon anti-ship missile to have the capability that was lost with the retirement of the Tomahawk Anti-Ship Missile; in the mid-term, replace defensive missile systems with laser weapon systems; and in the long-term, equip ships with electromagnetic railguns for over-the-horizon bombardment. Lasers like the Laser Weapon System in testing are currently for defense of ships and would allow missile compartments to be freed up for offensive system, while the laser could run as long as the ship has power. They may only be relegated to short-range defensive work, as they cannot fire over the horizon or out of line-of-sight. Railguns will be offensive and fire projectiles at Mach 7 out to 125 mi (201 km). They will serve as a complement to cruise missiles, as they have less range, components wear out fast, and currently only Zumwalt-class destroyers can generate enough electrical power for desired performance.
One significant change in U.S. policy-making that is having a major effect on naval planning is the Pivot to East Asia. In response this, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus has stated that 60 percent of the total U.S. fleet will be deployed to the Pacific by the year 2020.
The U.S. Navy falls under the administration of the Department of the Navy, under civilian leadership of the Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV). The most senior naval officer is the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), a four-star admiral who is immediately under and reports to the Secretary of the Navy. At the same time, the Chief of Naval Operations is one of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, which is the second-highest deliberatory body of the armed forces after the United States National Security Council, although it only plays an advisory role to the President and does not nominally form part of the chain of command. The Secretary of the Navy and Chief of Naval Operations are responsible for organizing, recruiting, training, and equipping the Navy so that it is ready for operation under the command of the unified combat command commanders.
Main article: List of units of the United States Navy
There are nine components in the operating forces of the U.S. Navy: the United States Fleet Forces Command (formerly United States Atlantic Fleet), United States Pacific Fleet, United States Naval Forces Central Command, United States Naval Forces Europe, Naval Network Warfare Command, Navy Reserve, United States Naval Special Warfare Command, Operational Test and Evaluation Force, and Military Sealift Command. Fleet Forces Command controls a number of unique capabilities, including Military Sealift Command, Naval Expeditionary Combat Command, and Navy Cyber Forces.
The United States Navy has six active numbered fleets – Third, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh Fleet and Tenth Fleets are each led by a vice admiral, and the Fourth Fleet is led by a rear admiral. These six fleets are further grouped under Fleet Forces Command (the former Atlantic Fleet), Pacific Fleet, Naval Forces Europe-Africa, and Naval Forces Central Command, whose commander also doubles as Commander Fifth Fleet; the first three commands being led by four-star admirals. The United States First Fleet existed after the Second World War from 1947, but it was redesignated the Third Fleet in early 1973. In early 2008, the navy reactivated the United States Fourth Fleet to control operations in the area controlled by Southern Command, which consists of US assets in and around Central and South America.
Shore establishments exist to support the mission of the fleet through the use of facilities on land. Among the commands of the shore establishment, as of April 2011, are the Naval Education and Training Command, the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command, the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, the Naval Facilities Engineering Command, the Naval Supply Systems Command, the Naval Air Systems Command, the Naval Sea Systems Command, the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, the Bureau of Naval Personnel, the United States Naval Academy, the Naval Safety Center, the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center, and the United States Naval Observatory. Official Navy websites list the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations and the chief of naval operations as part of the shore establishment, but these two entities effectively sit superior to the other organizations, playing a coordinating role.
Relationships with other service branches
United States Marine Corps
In 1834, the United States Marine Corps came under the Department of the Navy. Historically, the Navy has had a unique relationship with the USMC, partly because they both specialize in seaborne operations. Together the Navy and Marine Corps form the Department of the Navy and report to the Secretary of the Navy. However, the Marine Corps is a distinct, separate service branch with its own uniformed service chief – the Commandant of the Marine Corps, a four-star general.
The Marine Corps depends on the Navy for medical support (dentists, doctors, nurses, medical technicians known as corpsmen) and religious support (chaplains). Thus Navy officers and enlisted sailors fulfill these roles. When attached to Marine Corps units deployed to an operational environment they generally wear Marine camouflage uniforms, but otherwise they wear Navy dress uniforms unless they opt to conform to Marine Corps grooming standards.
In the operational environment, as an expeditionary force specializing in amphibious operations, Marines often embark on Navy ships to conduct operations from beyond territorial waters. Marine units deploying as part of a Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) operate under the command of the existing Marine chain of command. Although Marine units routinely operate from amphibious assault ships, the relationship has evolved over the years much as the Commander of the Carrier Air Group/Wing (CAG) does not work for the carrier commanding officer, but coordinates with the ship's CO and staff. Some Marine aviation squadrons, usually fixed-wing assigned to carrier air wings train and operate alongside Navy squadrons; they fly similar missions and often fly sorties together under the cognizance of the CAG. Aviation is where the Navy and Marines share the most common ground, since aircrews are guided in their use of aircraft by standard procedures outlined in series of publications known as NATOPS manuals.
United States Coast Guard
The United States Coast Guard, in its peacetime role with the Department of Homeland Security, fulfills its law enforcement and rescue role in the maritime environment. It provides Law Enforcement Detachments (LEDETs) to Navy vessels, where they perform arrests and other law enforcement duties during naval boarding and interdiction missions. In times of war, the Coast Guard operates as a service in the Navy. At other times, Coast Guard port security units are sent overseas to guard the security of ports and other assets. The Coast Guard also jointly staffs the Navy's naval coastal warfare groups and squadrons (the latter of which were known as harbor defense commands until late-2004), which oversee defense efforts in foreign littoral combat and inshore areas.