The United States Navy History: Mission to Protect
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The United States Navy History: Mission to Protect

The Continental Navy was established in 1775 to serve during the Revolutionary War. However, after the Peace of Paris in 1783, the ships were sold. It was not until 1794 that Congress voted to build six frigates to fight the Barbary pirates. In 1797 the United States Navy was launched.
                US Navy history

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The Continental Navy was established in 1775 to serve during the Revolutionary War. However, after the Peace of Paris in 1783, the ships were sold. It was not until 1794 that Congress voted to build six frigates to fight the Barbary pirates. In 1797 the United States Navy was launched. The following year the office of Secretary of the Navy was created. The role the Navy played in the War of 1812 enabled it to establish itself as an important part of the nation's defense forces.

Meanwhile, the new navy had acquired its first steam-driven warship, the U.S.N. Fulton. By the end of the Civil War, this navy was the largest and most powerful force in the world. When the Spanish-American War erupted, the navy easily wiped out the ten Spanish battleships that opposed it.

This victory occurred about ten years after Alfred Thayer Mahan had published two books on the influence of sea power. He was a naval officer who had served in the Civil War and later lectured on naval history and strategy at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. Mahan pointed out that success in international politics and economics depended on naval power. This was because the nation that controlled the seas became the dominant country in time of war and peace. As a result, many countries built up their sea power.

President Theodore Roosevelt and other national leaders became convinced that a strong navy was essential. Following up on the recent victorious war with Spain, in 1907 the president sent four destroyers and sixteen battleships on a fourteen-month world cruise, aiming to impress other nations with America's sea power. The ships were painted white to add to the impressiveness of the occasion. They became known as The Great White Fleet.

Mighty battleships dominated the seas until after World War I. However, wartime operations of the airplane caused a profound change in the Navy during the 1920s. Back in 1910 Eugene Ely had made the first flight from a ship, the cruiser Birmingham. The following year the Navy purchased its first airplane. In 1914, the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida, was established, and the original aircraft carrier, Langley, set sail in 1922. Thereafter, the aircraft carrier was to take the place of the warship with its mighty guns, and the carrier's superiority was soon to be proven. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the Navy had several huge flattops, but fortunately none were lost in that initial attack.

Seven months later, following one American defeat after another, the Battle of Midway was fought from June 3 to June 6, proving one of the most decisive engagements of World War II. In this conflict, American planes sank four Japanese aircraft carriers and crippled the enemy's navy. This ended the invasion threat. The enemy began its long retreat toward its homeland. Oddly enough, although two large naval fleets were pitted against each other, no ships engaged in battle; fighter planes and bombers from aircraft carriers did all the fighting.

Since the end of World War II, the Navy has undergone tremendous change. Its submarines have become among the nation's most important defensive weapons carriers. Furthermore, the advent of hydrogen bombs, development of nuclear power, and the vulnerability of ships to attack by aircraft or guided missiles has transformed the Navy into one of the most exciting of the armed services.

The Navy's main mission is to protect the United States. It is a sea-based, forward-deployed force that serves as a major deterrent to foreign aggression. With its massive aircraft carriers and arsenal of combat aircraft, the Navy in effect provides mobile military bases to hot spots around the world.

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