Eyes of the Fleet

Eyes of the Fleet

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

US Navy Birthday 13 October 1775

Only the Navy can make its own birthday dull. 230 years - sort of-
The United States Navy traces its origins to the Continental Navy, which the Continental Congress established on 13 October 1775 by authorizing the procurement, fitting out, manning, and dispatch of two armed vessels to cruise in search of munitions ships supplying the British Army in America. The legislation also established a Naval Committee to supervise the work. All together, the Continental Navy numbered some fifty ships over the course of the war, with approximately twenty warships active at its maximum strength.

After the American War for Independence, Congress sold the surviving ships of the Continental Navy and released the seamen and officers. The Constitution of the United States, ratified in 1789, empowered Congress "to provide and maintain a navy." Acting on this authority, Congress ordered the construction and manning of six frigates in 1794, and the War Department administered naval affairs from that year until Congress established the Department of the Navy on 30 April 1798.
We can do better than that. Suppose we took a ship's name and follow it through history. Which one? How about the USS Wasp?

The first Wasp was a schooner of war- and to war she went!
Picture from here. Caption:
U.S.S. WASP Boarding H.M Brig FROLIC
Oil 27 x 53 in. Attributed to Thomas Birch, ca. 1815.
This painting is said to once have been the property of Captain James Biddle, U. S. N., Lieutenant of the U. S. S. WASP.
The tenth USS WASP (LHD-1) posts this history of its predecessors:
In naming LHD-1 "Wasp", the Navy honors nine previous ships, dating to the American Revolution, which have borne this illustrious name.

Previous U.S. Navy ships named Wasp include: a schooner (1775-1777), a sloop of war (1806-1813), another schooner (1810-1814), a tender sloop (1813-1814), a ship-rigged sloop of war (1814), an iron-hulled side wheel steamer (1865-1876), a steam yacht (1898-1921), and the most famous of the nine, two aircraft carriers, CV-7 (1940-1942) and CV-18 (1943-1972).

The eighth Wasp was a 14,700 ton, 741-foot aircraft carrier that earned two battle stars during World War II. Wasp's sterling performance evoked British Prime Minister Winston Churchill's famous quote, "Who said a Wasp couldn't sting twice?"

After shifting to the Pacific theater of operations, CV-7 participated in a number of major engagements before being sunk during the Battle of Guadalcanal on September 15, 1942.

Following the loss of CV-7, CV-18, already under construction at the time, became the ninth Wasp. The ship earned eight battle stars for it's World War II service in the Pacific. After 29 years of gallant naval service, CV-18 was decommissioned in 1972.

USS Wasp (CV-7): Caption:
USS Wasp (CV-7) burning and listing after she was torpedoed by the Japanese submarine I-19, on 15 September 1942, while operating in the Southwestern Pacific in support of forces on Guadalcanal. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.UPDATE: More here

USS Wasp (CV-18): Caption:
Carrier Operations off Japan, August 1945 — A Japanese aircraft is shot down just off the starboard bow of USS Wasp (CV-18), during operations off Honshu, Japan, 9 August 1945. Two Fletcher-class destroyers are in the foreground. Photographed from USS Bon Homme Richard (CV-31), the image includes two frames, showing the scene just before and after the crash. The original caption identifies the aircraft as a Grace (Aichi B7A2).

USS Wasp (LHD-1): And some facts:
The Wasp-class are the largest amphibious ships in the world. WASP class ships are the first to be specifically designed to accomidate the AV-8B Harrier jump jet and the LCAC hovercraft, along with the full range of Navy and Marine helicopters, conventional landing craft and amphibious assault vehicles to support a Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) of 2,000 Marines. The ships also carry some of the most sophisticated communications, command and control capabilities afloat, alongwith state of the art electronic systems and defensive weaponry.
USS Wasp (LHD-1) homepage. "First in the Fleet"

You bet!

One ship's name. 230 years. That's some Naval history.

Happy Birthday, Navy!

Thanks to Mudville Gazette's open post!

UPDATE: Some analysis of where the Navy might be headed here from Sea Power. Hat tip to NOSI

1 comment:

  1. Served on CVS 18 and was on the decommissioning party. Air traffic controller CATCC Division