5 Things You Didn't Know About The U.S. Navy

On March 27, 1794, President George Washington and Congress authorized the creation of the U.S. Navy to defend the American colonies from British attack. Here are 5 facts you probably did not know about America’s maritime branch of the military...

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The Navy Produced Six Future Presidents During World War II No president had ever served in the Navy until World War II, when it suddenly turned into a near prerequisite for reaching the White House. John F. Kennedy commanded a motor torpedo boat that was run over by a Japanese destroyer in the Solomon Islands; Lyndon B. Johnson was briefly stationed in New Zealand and Australia despite being a sitting member of Congress; Richard Nixon supervised air cargo operations; Gerald Ford served as an aircraft carrier’s assistant navigator and was nearly swept overboard in a typhoon; Jimmy Carter attended the Naval Academy (and became a submariner after the war); and George H.W. Bush flew 58 combat missions, including one in which he was shot down over the Pacific. In fact, from 1961 to 1993, the only non-Navy man to become president was Ronald Reagan. 

Debates Still Persist About The Birthplace Of The Navy Many have argued the Navy's birthplace. More specifically, both Beverly, Massachusetts, and Marblehead, Massachusetts — claim to be the Navy's real birthplace. Each town claims to be homeport of the schooner Hannah's the first armed sea vessel of the American Revolution, and founding boat of the U.S. Navy. Each argument has some clout: while Beverly outfitted the vessel, Marblehead filled it with crew members. Interestingly, other cities have also claimed to be the Navy's birthplace, including Philadelphia, PA, Providence, RI, and Whitehall, NY. The Navy takes no position on its place of origin.

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All Submariners Volunteer For Their Positions Being a submariner is not for the faint of heart. It requires both physical and physiological stamina, given the conditions of being submerged underwater for months at a time in a vessel with no windows or natural light. Further, submarines are notoriously lacking in space, with only about 33 feet of width to roam within and just 15 square feet of living space with no privacy. Plus, a nuclear reactor is on board, which is enough to make anyone squeamish. Considering this, all submariners are volunteers, and have passed rigorous psychological and physical tests. Claustrophobics need not apply

The Secretary Of The Navy Is In Charge Of Naming Ships Since 1819, the Secretary of the Navy has been in charge of naming Navy ships after the Chief of Naval Operations signs and recommends the list of names to the Secretary. Names are typically based on active and retired sailors' suggestions, those from naval history, and even members of the public. Navy ships that are named after people are christened by the oldest living female descendent of that person. Commissioned ships are prefixed with USS, which stands for United States Ship.

There Are No "Walls" Or "Bathrooms" The Navy has a unique vocabulary, particularly when it comes to describing ships. Rather than "walls," for instance, Navy ships have "bulkheads." The "head" is where toilets are located, the "mass deck" is where sailors eat, and the "rack" is where ship crew sleep.