The United States Navy (USN) is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is currently the largest, most powerful navy in the world, with the highest combined battle fleet tonnage. The U.S. Navy has the world's largest aircraft carrier fleet, with ten in service, two in the reserve fleet,and three new class carriers under construction. The service has 328,186 personnel on active duty and 110,882 in the Navy Reserve. It has 272 deployable combat vessels and more than 3,700 aircraft in active service as of September 2015.
The U.S. Navy traces its origins to the Continental Navy, which was established during the American Revolutionary War and was essentially disbanded as a separate entity shortly thereafter. It played a major role in the American Civil War by blockading the Confederacy and seizing control of its rivers. It played the central role in the World War II defeat of Japan. The 21st century U.S. Navy maintains a sizable global presence, deploying in such areas as East Asia, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East. It is a blue-water navy with the ability to project force onto the littoral regions of the world, engage in forward areas during peacetime, and rapidly respond to regional crises, making it an active player in U.S. foreign and defense policy.
The Navy is administratively managed by the Department of the Navy, which is headed by the civilian Secretary of the Navy. The Department of the Navy is itself a division of the Department of Defense, which is headed by the Secretary of Defense. The Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) is a four-star admiral and the senior naval officer of the Department of the Navy. However, the CNO may not be the highest ranking naval officer in the armed forces if the Chairman or the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are Navy officers, who by law, outrank the CNO.
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.
— Mission statement of the United States Navy
From the New Recruits Handbook:
The mission of the United States Navy is to protect and defend the right of the United States and our allies to move freely on the oceans and to protect our country against her enemies.
The United States Navy is a seaborne branch of the military of the United States. The Navy's three primary areas of responsibility:
The preparation of naval forces necessary for the effective prosecution of war
The maintenance of naval aviation, including land-based naval aviation, air transport essential for naval operations and all air weapons and air techniques involved in the operations and activities of the Navy
The development of aircraft, weapons, tactics, technique, organization, and equipment of naval combat and service elements.
U.S. Navy training manuals state that the mission of the U.S. Armed Forces is "to prepare and conduct prompt and sustained combat operations in support of the national interest. "As part of that establishment, the U.S. Navy's functions comprise sea control, power projection and nuclear deterrence, in addition to "sealift" duties.
Main article: History of the United States Navy
It follows then as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious.
— George Washington
The Navy was rooted in the American seafaring tradition, which produced a large community of sailors, captains and shipbuilders in the colonial era. In the early stages of the American Revolutionary War, Massachusetts had its own navy. The establishment of a national navy was an issue of debate among the members of the Second Continental Congress. Supporters argued that a navy would protect shipping, defend the coast, and make it easier to seek out support from foreign countries. Detractors countered that challenging the British Royal Navy, then the world's preeminent naval power, was a foolish undertaking. Commander in Chief George Washington resolved the debate when he commissioned seven ocean-going cruisers, starting with the schooner USS Hannah, to interdict British supply ships, and reported the captures to the Congress.
The Continental Navy achieved mixed results; it was successful in a number of engagements and raided many British merchant vessels, but it lost 24 of its vessels and at one point was reduced to two in active service. The Continental Navy was disbanded at war's end.