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This Day in History - 10.13.2011

The Day the U.S Navy was Born

By Tom Fastert

On this day in history, October 13th, 1775, the United States Navy was born. According to a military source, the Continental Congress voted to equip two sailing vessels with ten carriage guns, swivel guns, and crews of 80 men to “intercept transports carrying munitions and stores” to the British army stationed in America. Because of this legislation, the United States Navy was formed (Birth).

This was a major development for the United States because in October of 1775, the British dominated and “threatened to stop the colonies’ trade and to wreak destruction on seaside developments” (Birth). Because of this threat, a few colonies equipped boats to patrol the seas, yet they were hardly a match for the powerful Royal Navy. Knowing the revolutionaries had to compete on the high seas, men like John Adams pushed for a united American fleet. Adams and his colleagues believed a unified navy was needed to protect coastal communities and their colonial trade, to “retaliate against British raiders”, and to provide the U.S. the arms “needed for resistance” (Birth). Still, Congress was reluctant to go forward with the proposed navy.

It wasn’t until U.S. intelligence located on-coming British vessels that Congress approved what is known today as the United States Navy. In response to the intelligence, Congress formed a committee that discussed a plan of action for the on-coming ships. The committee recommended the creation of American naval fleets, yet Congress was still uncertain—due largely to questions of finance and oversight (there was still no formal government at the time, making organization extremely difficult). But once George Washington informed Congress that he had all ready taken control of a few vessels in an attempt to intercept the British ships, Congress passed the legislation and the Navy was born (Birth).