It’s no secret that there’s plenty of people who’ve gone through war and have felt the effects of PTSD. This piece will take a back seat to the information of PTSD, and is for the people who have either been in the Navy and/or for people just interested in the history of the Navy.
The U.S. Navy was born on October 13, 1775, at the beginning of the American Revolution. The Continental Navy was comprised of “citizen sailors” who faced significant risk when engaged with the seasoned, highly-trained British Navy forces. During 1780 to 1783, the battles blazed on, but eventually, with the help of our French Allies, the stranglehold of the British blockades was broken. Once the Revolutionary War ended, the country’s leaders did not immediately recognize the need for a standing Navy, and it was disbanded.
In 1798 there were escalating tensions with former ally France, with conflicts occurring on the high seas. Concerns about how this conflict with France was handled, as well as threats from pirates, led to the passage of the Naval Act of 1794. The first six ships were commissioned to be built including the U.S.S. Constitution, or “Old Ironsides,” never defeated in battle. She is now in drydock in Boston where visitors can visit the historical vessel.
In the early 1800’s, North African Coastal states bordering the Mediterranean Sea were engaged in piracy. Then President Thomas Jefferson sent the Navy to beat back this threat to merchants and other ships, once against opening vital shipping lanes. In 1807 the tensions between Britain and the U.S. were increased when an American ship, the U.S.S. Chesapeake, was captured and boarded by the British Navy ostensibly searching for deserters. Justice was served when this very ship fought in the war of 1812, capturing the HMS Shannon.
The War of 1812 continued for three years, with the U.S. Navy ships were outnumbered by 50 to 1, but the young American Navy continued to be victorious in many important battles. In 1813, two strategic victories took place on Lake Erie and Lake Champlain, with the British forces surrendering control of Detroit and the Great Lakes.
Throughout the 1800’s, the Navy was involved in many other conflicts, fighting pirates in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, and forming blockades of Mexico in the Mexican-American War, aiding in the capture of what is now California. Other big advances were aided by the Navy, including opening trade with Japan.
The U.S. Navy was involved in many engagements during the Civil War, the first of which was the Battle of Gloucester Point, and the first use of the torpedo as a weapon. The end of the war was also the end of certain ships (timberclad). This war involved the largest naval blockade in history. After the Civil War came to an end, the Navy went into decline until later in the century, when the U.S.S. Maine exploded in Havana Harbor, the beginning of the Spanish-American War, with the decisive battle fought in 1898 when the U.S. destroyed the Spanish fleet in the Caribbean.
The 1900’s was the advent of the submarine, with the first sub, the U.S.S. Holland, commissioned in 1900. The Navy began a significant buildup, with 16 battleships added to what was called the “Great White Fleet.” The U.S. Navy Reserve was created in 1915. The U.S. Naval Act of 1916 was passed, with the goal of creating a Navy force larger than the British Royal Navy. In 1917, the first victory of WWI took place, with Navy vessels sinking a German U-Boat. The final battle was in 1918, once again with the sinking of a German U-Boat. In 1922, international treaties restricted the expansion of the Navy, requiring that the U.S. and the U.K. had navies of equal size. This century brings the advent of the radio, aircraft carriers and refueling at sea.
During WWII, before U.S. involvement, Naval Reservists were all on active duty. Pearl Harbor was the turning point, “the day that will live in infamy.” The U.S. Navy played a significant role throughout the war in the Pacific and the Atlantic. D-Day was the largest amphibious landing in history, which finally led to the surrender of the Germans, and on September 2, 1945, the final surrender of the Japanese.
There was heavy Navy involvement in the Korean War, most of which were from Navy planes launched from aircraft carriers. After the conflict ended, the Cold War began and an unprecedented buildup of military power on both sides, and the introduction of nuclear powered submarines. In 1972, the Vietnam War began, and once again, the U.S. Navy provided support mainly in the form of air missions launched from carriers.
The Navy was then engaged in intensive modernization, new technologies, and expansion of personnel, and various conflicts that continued through to the end of the century, including the Gulf War, the invasion of Iraq, and increased technological advances such as warning systems and satellite communications systems. Other conflicts included the Kosovo War.
The Navy participated in the invasion of Iraq, contributing to the rapid end of the reign of Saddam Hussein. The Navy consistently provided aid with its hospital ship, the USNS Mercy, including to South East Asia, as well as in New York after 9/11, after Hurricane Katrina to Haiti after the earthquakes and to the Philippines, providing much needed humanitarian relief across the globe.
Somalian pirates became a serious problem, and the Navy continues to maintain a presence off the coast of Africa to protect U.S. ships travelling through the area. In March, 2011, the Navy provided support to Japan after the tsunami.
In 2011, Navy SEALS engaged in a nighttime raid, leading to the death of Osama Bin Laden. The invasion of Afghanistan, during Operation Enduring Freedom once again used the elite Navy SEALS as the first groundtroops entering the area.
Belluck & Fox, located in New York, is a premier mesothelioma claim law firm serving members of the U.S. Navy and civilians working in Navy installations.