11 Things You Might Not Know About the U.S. Navy (2023)

Founded on October 13, 1775, by an order of the Continental Congress, the U.S. Navy is the largest navy in the world, and it is steeped in lore and tradition. Presidents, astronauts, artists, and athletes have worn its uniform, and untold thousands have lived by the words engraved on the Naval Academy chapel door: “Non sibi, sed patriae,” or: ”Not for self, but for country.” Here are eleven things you might not know about the Navy.

Beverly, Massachusetts, and Marblehead, Massachusetts, have long argued over which was the birthplace of the Navy. Each town claims to be homeport of the schooner Hannah, the first armed sea vessel of the American Revolution, and founding boat of the U.S. Navy. (It was so named for Hannah Glover, wife of General John Glover of the 21st Marblehead Regiment.) Marblehead provided the crew; Beverly outfitted the ship. (The men of Marblehead are notable for another action during the American Revolution—they rowed General George Washington across the Delaware River just before the Battle of Trenton.)

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Other cities vying for recognition as the birthplace of the Navy include Philadelphia, PA; Whitehall, NY; and Providence, RI. The Navy takes no position on its place of origin.

2. All submariners are volunteers.

Most attack submarines in the U.S. Navy are 33-feet wideand about the length of a football field. Ballistic missile submarines are the length of the Washington Monument. Submarines stay submerged for months at a time. There are no windows, there is no night and day, you have fifteen square feet of living space and no privacy—and there’s a nuclear reactor right behind you. They don’t just let anyone in a submarine. All submariners are volunteers, and have passed rigorous psychological and physical tests. Claustrophobics need not apply. Those serving on submarines are among the most highly trained personnel in the military.

In 1819, the United States Congress placed the Secretary of the Navy in charge of naming ships—a power he or she still enjoys. Generally, names are compiled by the Naval Historical Center based on the suggestions from the public, sailors, and retirees, and from naval history. The Chief of Naval Operations formally signs and recommends the list to the Secretary. Ships named for individuals are christened by “the eldest living female descendent” of that individual. Commissioned ships are prefixed with USS, which stands for United States Ship. Though the convention had been in use since the late eighteenth century, it was not standardized or formalized until 1907, by Teddy Roosevelt.

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4. The Navy SEAL Trident is sometimes called the “Budweiser.”

The trident worn on the uniforms of Navy SEALs is officially designated as the “Special Warfare Insignia,” but itis sometimes called the “Budweiser,” named in part for the Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) course, the grueling twenty-five week special warfare school. The trident also has an uncanny resemblance to the Anheuser-Busch logo.

The United States Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor program—previously called the United States Navy Fighter Weapons School, but more popularly, “TOPGUN”—was founded during the Vietnam War. The Navy was concerned by the poor performance of its air-to-air missile attacks against the North Vietnameseand ordered an evaluation of its combat aviation program. Inadequate crew training was decided to be at fault, and TOPGUN was established, where pilots would engage in realistic dogfight training against aircraft comparable to the enemy of the day. By the 1970s, Navy kill-to-loss rates went from 3.7:1 to 13:1—a testament to the profound and radical success of the program. It later became the basis of a Tom Cruise movie and, not to spoil anything, but don’t get too attached to Goose.

6. You’ve heard of a few people who know the words to Anchors Aweigh.

• Neil Armstrong flew armed reconnaissance as a Naval aviator during the Korean War. In 1951, he landed on Korean soil after his plane was hit by anti-aircraft fire and he had to eject. Eighteen years later, he landed on a more famous patch of ground.

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• There’s a good argument to be made that Robert Heinlein’s literary universe was influenced by his time at the United States Naval Academy, from which he graduated, and his time on the USS Lexington and USS Roper.

• Humphrey Bogart enlisted in the Navy in 1918 and served on the USS Leviathan and USS Santa Olivia.

• Before he was MC Hammer, he was AK3 Stanley Burrell (short for Petty Officer Third Class Aviation Storekeeper).


• Bob Barker’s time as a Navy fighter pilot means he's familiar with more means of transportation than just a new car!

The Naval Criminal Investigative Service is a federal law enforcement agency operating from 140 locations in the world. Special agents for the largely civilian organization are charged with criminal investigations (obviously), counterterrorism, and counter-intelligence. It was founded as the Office of Naval Intelligence, and at the time was responsible for gathering information on foreign vessels, passengers, bodies of water, and naval infrastructure. During World War I, its mission expanded to espionage and sabotage. Today, it’s a cash cow for CBS.

8. If not for the Navy, James T. Kirk would have been captain of the USS Yorktown.

In the original pitch for Star Trek, the ship we know as the USS Enterprise was called the USS Yorktown. Gene Roddenberry renamed it in part for the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier whose maiden voyage was in 1962. The seafaring Enterprise was (and remains) the longest vessel in the U.S. Navy. Roddenberry felt that the starship at the heart of his series would have had a similar standing as the aircraft carrier, and a new Enterprise was christened.

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The Navy has a rich lexicon established by millennia of naval tradition. Ships don’t have walls, they have bulkheads. The mess deck is where you eat food, the deck is where you walk. The head is where you’ll find a toilet. The rack is where you sleep. Birds take off from the bird farm or, rather, planes take off from an aircraft carrier.

10. SEAL Team Six has an outlaw past.

When Richard Marcinko founded SEAL Team Six (so named because there were only two other SEAL Teams, and he wanted the Soviets to think the number was much larger), he did so quickly and effectively. Because the unit was so cloaked in secrecy, the best decisions weren’t always made about spending and training. Marcinko, a combat hero and visionary, went on to found a unit called Red Cell (designed to test military units, tactics, and security) and would later spend time in federal prison for defrauding the government. The present name (that we know of) for SEAL Team Six is the Naval Special Warfare Development Group.

Even if you’ve never heard the name, you know his words, allegedly spoken at the Battle of Mobile Bay: “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!” (It’s unknown whether he spoke those exact words—different accounts give slight variations.) He was commissioned into the U.S. Navy at age nine. His adoptive father, Captain David Porter, probably had some hand in this. At age twelve, Farragut fought in the War of 1812. Though he was born in Tennessee, he remained steadfastly loyal to the Union during the Civil War, and after he seized the city of New Orleans, was promoted to Rear Admiral—a rank created specially for him by Congress. President Lincoln later promoted him to Vice Admiral (Farragut would later be a pallbearer at Lincoln’s funeral). Following the war, he was made the first Admiral of the Navy.

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What are 10 facts about the Navy? ›

13 Amazing Facts About The U.S. Navy
  • Navy SEALs have trained their brains to process fear differently. ...
  • All submariners are volunteers. ...
  • There are a lot of brave men and women fighting for the U.S. ...
  • The largest flying boat in existence was built for the Navy. ...
  • There are 140 NCIS locations scattered around the world.

What are some kid facts about the Navy? ›

People in the navy are called navians. The navy is mostly made up of warships. It may also have its own air force and soldiers. It may have special boats that can go underwater, called submarines, or another kind of special boat that is meant to carry airplanes, called aircraft carriers.

What are the Navy known for? ›

Our Mission. The Department of the Navy will recruit, train, equip, and organize to deliver combat ready Naval forces to win conflicts and wars while maintaining security and deterrence through sustained forward presence.

How old was the youngest Navy? ›

To join the Navy, you must: Be a U.S. citizen; or Legal Permanent Resident (Enlisted) Be between the ages of 17 and 41 for Enlisted programs. Age requirements for Officer programs vary.*

What is the U.S. Navy motto? ›

On seven seas we learn Navy's stern call: Faith, Courage, Service true, with Honor, Over Honor, Over All. There is no official motto for the U.S. Navy. "Non sibi sed patriae" (Not self but country) is often cited as the Navy's motto, however.

Who has the #1 Navy? ›

Navy Ranking
#CountryNumber of Warships
1People's Republic of China730
3North Korea519
4United States of America484
78 more rows

How old is the oldest Navy? ›

Oct. 13, 1775 is the official birthdate of the Navy, but the United States began its naval actions on June 12 of that year. On that day, in order to fight off the British, the Rhode Island assembly commissioned the Rhode Island Navy which served as America's first navy.

Why is it called Navy? ›

First attested in English in the early 14th century, the word "navy" came via Old French navie, "fleet of ships", from the Latin navigium, "a vessel, a ship, bark, boat", from navis, "ship". The word "naval" came from Latin navalis, "pertaining to ship"; cf.

Why does the navy have 2 birthdays? ›

The Navy League of New York proposed that the official observance be on 27 October in honor of President Theodore Roosevelt, who had been born on that day. In 1972 Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt authorized recognition of 13 October as the Navy's birthday.

What is navy in simple words? ›

: a group of ships : fleet. : a nation's ships of war and of logistic support. 3. often capitalized : the complete naval establishment of a nation including yards, stations, ships, and personnel.

What is the navy facts system? ›

FACTS is a DOD automated Air Clearance System. Shippers moving Navy funded freight are required to use FACTS to clear shipments into the Defense Transportation System (DTS). This system provides access to CRIF. To request access, contact Navy311.

What are the 4 core attributes of the Navy? ›

If we abide by these attributes, our values should be clearly evident in our actions.
  • Integrity. Our behaviors as individuals and as an organization align with our values as a profession. ...
  • Accountability. We are a mission-focused force. ...
  • Initiative. ...
  • Toughness.

How long do sailors stay at sea? ›

Navy deployment

Ship- or sub-based deployments typically last six or seven months, though occasionally they will go longer. The time at sea may be broken up by port calls, where the ship pulls into a town and the sailors are permitted to go ashore and enjoy some time off.

How far can Navy ships see? ›

RADAR ENABLES ships to detect planes out to 100 miles and surface vessels to 28,000 yds, and to distinguish between friendly and enemy craft.

How long is Navy boot camp? ›

While it's called Boot Camp, it's really a huge campus that includes both classroom and lots of hands-on training. The training is rigorous and demanding. And once you finish, it's something to be proud of. Here's what to expect throughout the 7- to 9-week schedule.

What is the oldest Navy job? ›

And that's because of Boatswain's Mates. They're the oldest rate in the Navy, and the lifeblood of the fleet. It's a job that revolves around the integrity of the ship. From the anchor, to the decks, to the pilothouse, these Sailors work hard to keep the crew mission-ready.

What's the weight limit for the Navy? ›

Navy Weight And Height Requirement

To be an applicant for the Navy, you must be between 57-80 inches tall. The weight standards are about your height and gender. For example, if you're 60 inches tall and a male, you must be 141lb maximum. If you're 70 inches and a female, you cannot weigh more than 177lb.

What is the Navy battle cry? ›

Hooyah is the battle cry used in the United States Navy and the United States Coast Guard to build morale and signify verbal acknowledgment.

What is a Navy person called? ›

What Are Navy Soldiers Called? A sailor is a member of the United States Navy. Sailor=sea=Navy.

What is the Navy version of Hooah? ›

Oorah is a battle cry common in the United States Marine Corps since the mid-20th century. It is comparable to hooah in the US Army and hooyah in the US Navy and US Coast Guard. It is most commonly used to respond to a verbal greeting or as an expression of enthusiasm.

What is the lowest ranked Navy? ›

Seaman recruit (SR) is the lowest enlisted rank in the Navy, just below seaman apprentice.

What is the largest Navy base in the US? ›

Naval Station Norfolk is the world's largest naval station, supporting 75 ships and 134 aircraft alongside 14 piers and 11 aircraft hangars. The base houses the largest concentration of U.S. Navy forces. Air Operations conducts an average of 275 flights per day or one every six minutes.

What is the best trained Navy in the world? ›

The US Navy holds the distinction of the most powerful and capable navy in the world. The star of the US fleet –The stealthy and technologically advanced destroyers. These are the largest destroyers ever built, primarily deployed for land attack.

Why do the Navy hold hands? ›

Part of everyday Naval life, a salute is always made with the palm facing in. Why? Because sailors' hands were generally covered in tar from sails and rigging, and it was deemed unsightly to show an officer or member of the Royal Family a dirty palm.

What is the Navy's birthday? ›

Happy Birthday to the United States Navy

In an effort to curb British Sea Control, the Continental Congress established the Continental Navy, which later, on October 13, 1775, became the United States Navy.

Who was the youngest man to join Navy? ›

Graham was sworn into the Navy on Aug. 15, 1942, at 12 years old, making him the youngest person to enlist during World War II. After training, he was sent to serve in the Pacific as a gunner aboard the USS South Dakota.

Why does the Navy say aye aye? ›

Phrase. (idiomatic, nautical) The correct and seamanlike reply, onboard a Royal Navy (or US Navy) ship, on receipt of an order from someone of senior rank or authority. It means "I understand the command and hasten to comply with the order."

What is the color code for Navy? ›

The navy blue hex code is #000080. Because of its roots, the color is easily associated with the military.

What does salty mean in the Navy? ›

Salty Dog is a nickname for an ornery Sailor or a U.S. Marine who has spent much of his life aboard a ship at sea. A Salty Dog is also called old salt or true grit.

Why does Navy have a star? ›

This symbol consists of a gold star within a circle that commemorates his or her honorable service. The gold star is also surrounded by sprigs of oak that represent the branches of the Armed Forces.

Can 2 people in the Navy date? ›

US NAVY REGULATIONS 1165: Prohibits personal relationships between officers and enlisted personnel that are unduly familiar and do not respect the differences in grade or rank. Such relationships are prejudicial to good order and discipline and violative of service tradition.

How many kids can you have to join the Navy? ›

Policy Update (May 23, 2022): The Navy begins a two year pilot program which allows for active duty single parent applicants with a maximum of two dependents to be processed for enlistment.

What is a group of Navy sailors called? ›

A group of sailors is called a crew. A crew works collectively aboard a ship and is responsible for handling equipment and other functions aboard a ship.

What does chit mean in the Navy? ›

CHIT. One tradition carried on in the Navy is the use of the "chit." It is a carry over from the days when Hindu traders used slips of paper called "citthi" for money, so they wouldn't have to carry heavy bags of gold and silver. British sailors shortened the word to chit and applied it to their mess vouchers.

Why do sailors line the deck? ›

Manning the rail is a method of saluting (or rendering honors) used by naval vessels. The custom evolved from that of "manning the yards", which dates from the days of sail.

What are the three P's in Navy? ›

— The assistant deputy chief of naval operations for Manpower, Education and Training said preparation, positioning and a positive attitude - the three Ps - can empower individuals to succeed.

What are the Navy's 5 system commands? ›

The current Navy systems commands are:
  • Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA)
  • Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR)
  • Naval Information Warfare Systems Command (NAVWAR) (formerly SPAWAR),
  • Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command (NAVFAC)
  • Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP)
  • Marine Corps Systems Command (MCSC)

What are the 6 capabilities of the Navy? ›

To effectively operate in the maritime domain, the Navy continuously hones its six core capabilities: forward presence, deterrence, sea control, power projection, maritime security, and humanitarian assistance/disaster relief response (HA/DR). US naval forces are forward deployed around the clock.

What does 4 stars mean in the Navy? ›

In the Navy the top rank is “Admiral” (four star) followed by Vice Admiral (three star), and Rear Admiral (two star). In the Navy the rank of Fleet Admiral is rarely given.

What are the Navy's six system commands? ›

There are six system commands within the Navy:
  • Navy Air Systems Command (NAVAIR)
  • Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA)
  • Naval Warfare Systems Command (NAVWAR)
  • Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC)
  • Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP)
  • Marine Corps Systems Command (MARCOR)

What are the Navy's signature behaviors? ›

Our Navy Core Values - Honor, Courage, and Commitment have been the bedrock for our way of life and the foundation of Integrated American naval power. They serve as a reminder to each of us that our sacred oath to country and our shipmates is not taken lightly.

How much sleep do Navy sailors get? ›

How Much Do Service Members Sleep? On average, 60% of service members. View Source sleep fewer than six hours per night. Those who have been previously or are currently deployed sleep even less, at fewer than five hours per night.

Who gets deployed first in war? ›

The Marine Corps is often first on the ground in combat situations.

How are sailors punished at sea? ›

Seamen could be 'tarred and feathered', tied to a rope, swung overboard and ducked or 'keel-hauled', dragged round the underneath of the ship. Flogging was the most common, with the whole crew often made to watch. A rope's end was used, or the infamous 'cat o' nine tails'.

How many miles can a Navy ship travel in a day? ›

The Carrier

With a speed of approximately 700 nautical miles per day and bases on both the east coast of the United States and in Hawaii, aircraft carriers can arrive anywhere in the world in less than two weeks.

Do sailors ever see combat? ›

In fact, fewer than 15 percent of enlisted personnel ever see combat or are assigned a combat role. How can one tell the difference between those who served in combat and who didn't? In 1969, the Department of the Navy established one of its most recognized awards: the Combat Action Ribbon.

Do you get to travel a lot in the Navy? ›

America's Navy offers several travel and recreational opportunities, as well as generous vacation time. In the Navy, you'll have the chance to travel, even when not embarked on a ship. With 30 paid vacation days each year, you can use this time to relax, visit your family or venture to new places.

What does the Navy do for fun? ›


Many tournaments and leagues are offered on a year-round basis for anything from softball to flag football, basketball to volleyball, soccer to tennis, racquetball to running, and much more. The Navy stresses the importance of fitness every day to its members.

What is the Navy facts system? ›

FACTS is a DOD automated Air Clearance System. Shippers moving Navy funded freight are required to use FACTS to clear shipments into the Defense Transportation System (DTS). This system provides access to CRIF. To request access, contact Navy311.

What is the Navy's main job? ›

The mission of the Navy is to maintain, train and equip combat-ready naval forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression and maintaining freedom of the seas. This mission requires skilled sailors who maintain and operate the most sophisticated technologies supporting the world's best Navy.

Do Navy sailors swim in the ocean? ›

“Swim call” is a rare treat that can sometimes be experienced on deployments out at sea. The military tradition allows Sailors to take a breather and enjoy the open ocean as their own private swimming pool.

What are Navy soldiers called? ›

People in a navy are called sailors.

Why does the Navy have 2 birthdays? ›

The Navy League of New York proposed that the official observance be on 27 October in honor of President Theodore Roosevelt, who had been born on that day. In 1972 Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt authorized recognition of 13 October as the Navy's birthday.

Who is the youngest person to join the Navy? ›

Graham was sworn into the Navy on Aug. 15, 1942, at 12 years old, making him the youngest person to enlist during World War II. After training, he was sent to serve in the Pacific as a gunner aboard the USS South Dakota.

What are the Navy's core values? ›

As in our past, we are dedicated to the Core Values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment to build the foundation of trust and leadership upon which our strength is based and victory is achieved.

What is the toughest job in the Navy? ›

Navy Special Warfare

Pre-screening, selection and then training to become a Navy SEAL are among the most comprehensive and difficult in the military. The washout rate at the Navy's Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training course is also high.

What is the hardest Navy school? ›

The naval nuclear program is widely acknowledged as having the most demanding academic program in the U.S. military.

What is the lowest job in the Navy? ›

Seaman (Undesignated)

When a sailor does not qualify for a Navy rating right away, they are considered undesignated and titled simply as a Navy Seaman. After recruit training, enlistees take a three-week course on the basic theories of shipboard operations and evolutions.


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