The United States Navy marks its 248th birthday this year. Born in Philadelphia, on October 13, 1775, the Navy has a history that spans more than two centuries. From its humble beginnings as the Continental Navy to its present-day status as a global powerhouse, the U.S. Navy has played a pivotal role in providing jobs and safeguarding American interests worldwide.
The birth of the U.S. Navy was a direct response to the growing demands of the American Revolutionary War. General George Washington’s urging led the Second Continental Congress to create the Continental Navy in Philadelphia. In the heart of this historic city, the Congress commissioned the first Navy officers, including John Barry, recognized as the Father of the U.S. Navy, and John Paul Jones, who would go on to achieve fame by raiding the coasts of Britain itself.
On the banks of the Delaware River in Philadelphia, the Navy commissioned its very first ship, the USS Alfred. It was on this ship that John Paul Jones hoisted the original American national flag, the Grand Union Flag. Later, Francis Hopkinson, a New Jersey signer of the Declaration of Independence, designed the first Navy flag, which eventually evolved into the iconic Stars and Stripes.
Philadelphia played a crucial role in shaping the Navy’s early years. In Philadelphia’s Tun Tavern, John Adams penned the Navy’s organizing document, the Articles of War. From the Delaware River, the Navy’s first flotilla set sail, escorting the Marines on their inaugural amphibious operation to seize guns and gunpowder from the British in the Bahamas. The city remained the heart of the Navy’s operations throughout most of the American Revolution until the war concluded and the Continental Navy was dissolved.
The U.S. Navy was reborn in Philadelphia after the adoption of the U.S. Constitution. A few years after Philadelphia became the nation’s capital, Congress convened in Congress Hall and passed the Navy Act of 1794, establishing the Department of the Navy. Here, President Washington nominated the first Secretary of the Navy, and Congress authorized the construction of the famed six frigates, which were designed in Philadelphia. The first of these frigates, the USS United States, was launched on the Delaware and became the first U.S. Navy ship.
The Navy’s origins in Independence Hall predate the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, and it has served the nation for over two centuries, playing a vital role in shaping American history.
On October 13, 1972, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt authorized the official recognition of October 13 as the U.S. Navy’s birthday. Since then, each Chief of Naval Operations has encouraged a Navy-wide celebration of this occasion to foster a deeper appreciation of our Navy’s heritage and promote pride and professionalism within the naval service.
Looking Ahead to the 250th Anniversary
As the U.S. Navy commemorates its 248th birthday, it also looks forward to its 250th anniversary in 2025. The celebrations are set to be grand, with Homecoming 250 inviting numerous Navy, historic, and replica ships to join the greatest gathering of Navy history ever. Navy Secretary Del Toro recently used the 248th-anniversary celebration to announce, outside of Independence Hall, that the Navy’s newest amphibious landing dock ship would be named the USS Philadelphia. This underscores the enduring connection between Philadelphia and the Navy, and it will be a proud moment for the city when the USS Philadelphia takes to the seas.
As the U.S. Navy celebrates its 248th birthday and anticipates its 250th anniversary in 2025, it is vital to acknowledge the invaluable role that the U.S. Navy plays in the manufacturing landscape in Southeastern Pennsylvania. DVIRC looks forward to continuing to foster navy-industry partnerships in Southeastern Pennsylvania, facilitating connections, and developing skilled workers for the Navy’s shipbuilding and technological advancements.
These collaborations exemplify a commitment to innovation and excellence. DVIRC eagerly anticipates hosting more events like the Liberty Tech Bridge pitch day and actively supporting ongoing programs we partner with vital organizations including NavalX, the Office of Naval Research, Naval Surface Warfare Center Philadelphia Division (NSWCPD), Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific (NIWC-PAC) Cyber Engineering and Integration Division (located in Philadelphia, PA), and Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division Lakehurst (NAWCAD-LKE).
Together, as we celebrate the U.S. Navy’s legacy and prepare for its future, these partnerships and collaborations pave the way for a stronger, more secure, and innovative naval force that will continue to protect and serve the nation for generations to come.