Chapter Five
-Naval History-

Naval History is the story of the life of the Navy. Some of the Navy’s past influences today’s traditions and customs.

• Navy birthday is 13 Oct 1775 on that date the Second Continental Congress authorized the purchase of two vessels.

Ships of the Continental Navy

1. Ships-of-the-Line- These were the battleships of the sailing days. They carried 60 to over 100 various guns.
2. Frigates These were the cruisers of the 18th Century. Generally carried 28 to 44 guns.
3. Sloops-of War-These were small sailing warships. They carried 10 to 20 guns.
4. Privateers-were commissioned by the Continental Congress and by individual states to capture enemy merchant ships as prizes of war.

The USS Alfred was the first US Navy flagship.

John Paul Jones was one of the most daring commanders in the war against the British. As the skipper of the USS Ranger he left France on April 10. 1778 for raids against the British. After Capturing a number of ships he actually landed on British soil, raiding Whitehaven, England.
France became one of the first foreign powers to recognize the struggling government of the American Colonies when John Paul Jones sailed the USS Ranger into Quiberon Bay, France on Feb. 1778. The Ranger saluted the French Fleet anchored there. A nine gun salute was given in return. This marked the first time the stars and stripes were officially recognized.
In 1779, John Paul Jones took command of an old decaying merchant ship that was renamed the USS Bonhomme Richard (honoring Benjamin Franklin).
It carried 42 relatively light guns, some of which were in rather poor condition. On Sept. 23, 1779, Jones met the British warship Serapis(50 Guns)
After a furious battle the USS Bonhomme Richard was on fire and was taking on water. The skipper of the Serapis asked John Paul Jones if “he had struck his colors” (surrender). Jones replied, “I have not yet begun to fight!
Jones and his crew continued to fight until the Serapis was captured and defeated. The Bonhomme Richard burnt to the keel and sank.

• The Navy was disbanded when the last frigate, the USS Alliance, was sold in 1785.

• In 1794 Congress authorized the construction of six new frigates. One of these ships was the USS Constitution.

• US Warefare 1st submarine was the Turtle. It was designed by David Bushnell.

• The 2nd President John Adams established the Navy Department in 1798.

• The War of 1812 was brought on in part because the British were forcing the Americans to serve in the British Navy.

• On August 19, 1812 Captain Issac Hull aboard the USS Constitution defeated the British frigate Guerriere, and the USS Constitution earned its nickname “Old Ironside”. The USS Constitution is still in commission today and can be seen at the Boston Navy Yard.

• On Sept. 5, 1843, the first successful steamship the USS Princeton was launched.

• In the Civil War, the USS Hunley attacked the USS Housatonic, marking the first true submarine attack (they both went down)

• The Civil War saw the development of two famed ironclads: The USS Merrimack(renamed the CSS Virginia by the Confederacy) and the Union’s USS Monitor. The battle between these two ships was indecisive.

Alfred T. Mahan was one of the first instructors at the Naval War College. He influenced naval strategy. He defined sea power.

John Holland & Simon Lake were two inventors that made subs a reality.

• On Feb 15, 1898 the USS Maine was sunk while anchored in Cuba's Havana harbor which led to the Spanish American War.

Commodore George Dewey was instrumental in quickly ending the Spanish American War

• April 1900 the Navy accepted its first operational submarine, USS Holland

Naval Aviation

• On Dec 16 1907, the “Great White Fleet” left Hampton Roads, Virginia for a round-the-world cruise to show the flag and demonstrate the strength of the US Navy.

•In World War I destroyers were the main defense against German U-boats.

• The first aviator was Lt. T.G. Ellyson.

Aircraft Carriers

• The first aircraft carrier built from the keel up was the USS RANGER in 1934.

World War II

Dec 7, 1941 Japan attacked Pearl Harbor drawing the US into World War II.

• At the Battle of Coral Sea the two fleets never saw each other. The battles was fought entirely with aircraft launched from carriers.

• The turning point of the war in the Pacific came in the Battle of Midway.

Radar and Sonar came into use in World War II.

• The Battle of Leyte Gulf was the final deciding blow to the Japanese Navy.

Jets were first used in the Korean Conflict. The helicopters also came into being during this time.

• The first nuclear submarine was the USS Nautilus. It was first put to sea on Jan 17, 1955.

• The first nuclear powered surface warship was the guided missile cruiser USS Bainbridge launched on April 15, 1961.

• The first nuclear powered aircraft carrier was the USS Enterprise which was commissioned on Nov 25, 1961.

• On March 17, 1958 the US launched its first satellite. The Vanguard, a 3 ½ pound payload. It is now the oldest man-made satellite still in orbit. It is expected to remain aloft for 2000 years.

• Many naval officers participated in space exploration. On May 5, 1961 Commander Alan B. Shepard, Jr. made America’s first suborbital flight. The 15 minute shot in Freedom 7 went 116.5 miles into space.

• Former Navy pilot Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the moon on July 20, 1969.

• On November 14th, 1969 the all-Navy Apollo 12 crew lifted off from Kennedy Space Center on the second lunar exploration.

• The USS ALVIN was the Navy’s first deep diving vehicle. It was successfully tested at 6000-foot depths on July 20, 1965.

• On July 19, 1974 construction of the new Trident undersea nuclear weapons commenced. The Trident system consists of three principal elements:
1. a nuclear-powered fleet ballistic missile submarine. (SSBN)
2. a strategic weapons system (the missile)
3. an integrated logistics support system

• The first Trident submarine was the USS Ohio (SSBN-726). It was delivered to the Navy in 1981.

Women in the Navy

• In World War I women enlisted in the Navy on a large scale. By the end of WWI there were 11,275 women enlisted as Yeoman(F). They were all released from active duty by July 31, 1919.

• In World War II, Congress authorized the Women’s Reserve on July 30, 1942. On August 4, 1942, Mildred Helen McAfee was sworn in as Lieutenant Commander of the Women’s Reserve.

• During World War II, women (WAVES) were eligible for 34 Different ratings

• Review BMR Chapter 5 (14325)

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