October 13 – The U.S. Navy's Birthday

Posted on October 13, 2015

It's a bit tough to say when some beginnings are...

For example, can you have a United States Navy before you have a United States?

Apparently, you can! The official birthday of the U.S. Navy is October 13, 1775 – even though the Declaration of Independence wasn't until July, 1776, and the nation didn't win its Revolutionary War against Britain until its victory in Yorktown in October, 1781. Even then, the war didn't officially end – and the United States become recognized as a sovereign nation – until September, 1783.

It was the Continental Congress of the 13 colonies that first established a small navy on this date in 1775. This Continental navy wasn't created to fight the British navy for control of the Atlantic Ocean! After all, the Royal Navy was the most powerful navy in the world.

However, the Continental navy was designed to work with “privateers” – which are armed ships owned by individual people, not by the government, that are authorized for use in war – to attack and raid British supply ships. It was a smart tactic – the Continental navy and privateers would wait and watch for a transport on its way to resupply British forces, and then they would dart in and attack. Whenever they saw Royal Navy men-of-war – the battle ships – they would wriggle away and avoid fights if possible.

The start-up Continental navy was made up of rather small ships that they had purchased, converted, or built. Here are the major types of ships used by that first navy:





Honestly, I'm not sure of the difference between the various ships – number of masts, number of sails, speed and agility all probably factor in, somehow – but if you're interested, you could look up the definition of each of the ships.

Nowadays, of course, the U.S. Navy has a lot of much larger, more powerful ships. Some of the ships are more like small cities than like, say, a sloop or a frigate! Again, I'm not positive of the exact difference between, say, cruisers and destroyers, but you could find out what defines each of these kinds of ships.

Here are some of the most important types of modern naval ships:

aircraft carriers:

amphibious assault ships:

amphibious transport docks:

dock landing ships:



littoral combat ships:

patrol ships:

mine countermeasures ships:

P.S. Guess who has the world's most powerful navy now?

If you answered “the U.S. of A.,” you're right!

Also on this date:

Astronomy Day

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