The United States Navy:   Then and Now

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1776 Navy of the United Colonies   In 1776 our Navy consisted of 90 officers and 3,000 enlisted personnel with only a few jobs above the ordinary seaman level. These included Boatswain's Mate, Quartermaster, Gunner's Mate, Master-at-Arms, Cook, Armorer, Sailmaker's Mate, Cooper, Cockswain, Carpenter's Yeoman, and Yeoman of the Gun Room. The Navy is smaller than a single Carrier in 2004.
1779 John Paul Jones John Paul (later he added Jones) was born in Scotland on July 6, 1747, and first went to sea at twelve as a cabin boy aboard a merchant ship bound for Virginia.  There, he joined his older brother William Paul in Fredericksburg. Following the colonies' declaration of independence from Great Britain, John Paul Jones was commissioned a senior lieutenant in the new Continental Navy. His achievements at sea during the war were spectacular. Jones distinguished himself in action in the Atlantic Ocean during 1776 and 1777 in command of the naval ships the Alfred, the Providence, and the Ranger, taking many British ships as prizes.   <S>
1794 Navy Disbanded

The beginnings of the U.S. Navy were marked by uncertainty and experimentation. After the colonies won their independence from Britain in 1783, the Continental Navy was disbanded, and all remaining ships were sold or broken up. Indeed, from that day until 1794, the fledgling republic had no naval force at all.   <link>  The Constitution of the United States, ratified in 1789, empowered Congress “to provide and maintain a Navy.”  In the year 1794 Congress first acted on that power, in response to international crises, by authorizing the procuring and manning of six frigates.  Three of those frigates, USS United States, USS Constellation, and the USS Constitution, were completed and launched in 1797.

1798 Navy Department

Ship's Bell

Naval personnel matters were originally handled by the Secretary of War until the establishment of the Navy Department on April 30th. Also, Paul Revere casts a bell weighing 242 pounds for the frigate Constitution, also known today by its nickname “Old Ironsides.” Before the advent of the chronometer, time at sea was measured by the trickle of sand through a half-hour glass.  One of the ship's boys had the duty of watching the glass and turning it when the sand had run out.  When he turned the glass, he struck the bell as a signal that he had performed this vital function. From this ringing of the bell as the glass was turned evolved the tradition of striking the bell once at the end of the first half hour of a four hour watch, twice after the first hour, etc., until eight bells marked the end of the four hour watch.  The process is repeated for succeeding watches.

1800 Undeclared War

Lessons Learned
 On 28 May 1798 Congress authorized the public vessels of the United States to capture armed French vessels hovering off the coast of the United States, initiating an undeclared Quasi-War with France. Although they were fighting the same enemy, the Royal Navy and the United States Navy did not cooperate operationally, nor did they share operational plans or come to mutual understandings about deployment of their forces. The war highlighted several weaknesses in the fledgling Navy, both in the shore establishment and in the operational forces.  Problems arose in procurement, provisioning, manning of ships, delegation of authority, and planning for an extensive campaign.  Squadron commanders learned that they required smaller ships to pursue enemy privateerws in shallow waters.  Many of the merchantmen converted into men-of-war proved to be poor sailers. During the first year of the war, Stoddert did not fully coordinate the rotation of vessels refitting in port with those on stations requiring relief.  By restricting the enlistments in the Navy to one year, Congress effectively limited the time that ships could remain deployed. The leadership qualities among Stoddert's senior officers varied widely, and politics and personal jealousies often stymied his attempts to assign them the the Navy's best advantage.  <S>
1804 Old Ironsides USS Constitution The USS Constitution (Ironsides) joined the Navy's Mediterranean squadron for the first time in September of 1803, and remained there until October 1807.  Her mission was to protect American shipping in the Mediterranean on which the Barbary corsairs were preying.  In August 1804, the American Navy massed enough ships to attack the heavily defended harbor of Tripoli.  American ships bombarded the harbor and engaged Tripolian vessels five times during 1804.  Her main mast is 220 feet, her speed about 13 knots, and she carried a crew of 450, including 55 Marines and 30 boys.  Picture shows Old Ironsides firing her starboard guns while underway in Massachusetts Bay on July 21, 1997.  That was the first time in 116 years the ship was underway under sail. Click picture, or for very large photo click <here>.
1812 First Ship's Library

The first ship’s library was placed aboard the warship USS Franklin in 1812 just before the Franklin sailed for a 3-year cruise of the Pacific.  Upon the return of the ship, the books remaining in the collection became the nucleus of the Seaman’s Library at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.  On 28 January 1828, Secretary Samuel Southard sent a circular letter to all Navy yard commandants consisting of a list of 37 books on mathematics, history, philosophy, and miscellaneous topics to be purchased and provided every ship as it was outfitted for service. USS Falmouth was the first ship to receive that library.  <S>

1813 Ship's Habitability

Crew berthing took up the majority of space forward from the wardroom to the foc'sle. Here the crew hung their hammocks and lived.   Located on deck were hatchways and ladders leading to the deck above and the hold below.   Separating berthing from the foc'sle was a stove, a large brick and metal hearth used to cook the food. A stove pipe led up from the stove through the main deck.  Forward of the stove was the foc'sle and more storage space. Usually the sail-locker, boswain's, steward's and carpenter's lockers were located here.  Animal pens could also be kept here during extended deployments. <Link>

1814 Joint OPS

The Battle of Plattsburg was in many ways, the most decisive engagement of the War of 1812.  The U.S forces at Plattsburg were commanded by Brigadier General Alexander Macomb. The Americans were badly outnumbered but had the support of the U.S. fleet under Thomas Macdonough. Realizing that the British had bigger ships and longer range guns, Macdonough anchored his squadron in Plattsburg Bay and waited for the British Navy to come to him.  <S>

1815 Navy Personnel

The Secretary of the Navy takes control of personnel matters; See 1861.

1817 Uniforms

Ship's Tailor

Prior to 1817, files of the Navy Department show no regulations providing for enlisted men's uniforms. But it is noted that in January 1813, upon the arrival of Commodore Decatur at New York with the frigates United States and Macedonia the crew was dressed in blue jackets buttoned loosely over waistcoats, blue bell-bottomed trousers and glazed canvas hats with stiff brims decked with streamers and ribbons. The first regulations covering enlisted men's clothes that can be found appears in the regulations of the Navy issued by Benjamin W. Crowninshiel in September 1817. These regulations provided for both the enlisted man's summer and winter dress.  This regulation is often quoted as being the reason for Sailors' bell- bottomed trousers, that is, they were made so as to facilitate pulling the bottom up over the thigh. As a result of the introduction of uniforms there became the need for a tailor, so, the rating Ship's Tailor was established in 1869 and changed to Tailor in 1885, and finally Ship's Serviceman was established in 1943.   <link>

1832 Navy Rations

On January 27th, the Secretary of the Navy writes that the "navy ration may be altered without increase of expense, and so as to increase the comforts of the seaman and advance the good of the service, by striking out the suet, forming part of the present ration, and reducing the quantity of rice and spirit one-half, and the quantity of bread one-seventh, and substituting tea, sugar, and pickles which will cost about as much...." <link>  On larger ships and on short passages, live beasts were carried for fresh meat, but on long voyages oxen, like men, could get scurvy too, or at any rate thin down to uselessness, and sheep took poorly to the sea life.  In good weather hens prospered and about the only animal to prosper at sea was the goat, and the goats prospered always.   Best Navy Bean Soup: <Then>   <1962>   <Today>

1842 Navy Bureaus established

On August 31st, a Congressional Act establishes five Navy bureaus: (a) Yards and Docks, (b) Construction, Equipment, and Repair, (c) Ordnance and Hydrography, (d) Provisions and Clothing, and (e) Medicine and Surgery.

1843 Steam

Princeton becomes the Navy's first screw-driven steam-powered warship. New ratings include Coal Heaver and Fireman in 1842; Machinist in 1866; Boilermaker in 1869; Engineer's Force Seaman in 1871; Engineer's Yeoman in 1874; Engineer's Blacksmith in 1880; Oiler and Watertender in 1884, and Plumber and Fitter in 1893.  Few today can imagine the total dependency on the tides and wind for these crews, and the great seamanship skills mastered by these sailors.

1845 Naval Academy

Through the efforts of the Secretary of the Navy George Bancroft, the Naval School was established without Congressional funding, at a 10-acre Army post named Fort Severn in Annapolis, Maryland, on October 10th, with a class of 50 midshipmen and seven professors. The curriculum included mathematics and navigation, gunnery and steam, chemistry, English, natural philosophy, and French.  In 1850 the Naval School became the United States Naval Academy. A new curriculum went into effect requiring midshipmen to study at the Academy for four years and to train aboard ships each summer.  The Naval Academy first accepted women as midshipmen in 1976.

1851 Flogging

When President Millard Filmore signs the 1851 Naval appropriations bill on 28 September 1850, flogging as a form of punishment in the U.S. Navy is legally abolished. <Photo>  Picture shows Commodore Uriah Phillips Levy (1792-1862), a Navy officer whose many accomplishments included successful advocacy of the elimination of flogging as a punishment in the Naval Service.  He became a U.S. Navy officer in October 1812, and was a prisoner of war during the latter part of the War of 1812, but his career thereafter was active and fruitful. He is also noted for his ownership and preservation of Thomas Jefferson's home Monticello. Commodore Levy died in New York City on 22 March 1862.

1861 Office of Detail

Bureau of Equipment and Recruiting
USS PawneeThe Office of Detail was created for the detailing of officers and the appointment and instruction of volunteer officers, as well as the purchase of ships and related matters were transferred.
Also, the Bureau of Equipment and Recruiting was concurrently established to handle enlisted recruiting and service record maintenance. Picture is USS Pawnee (1860-1884). An “Old Salt” is standing by the ship's 100-pounder Parrott rifle, with the starboard battery of nine-inch Dahlgren shell guns visible beyond. Note awnings spread overhead, and crewmen sitting on the deck amidships. Click on the picture for a larger view.
1862 Commodore and Admiral

USS Monitor
USS Monitor The ranks of Commodore and Admiral were established.  However, Commodore would be abolished in 1899, whereupon all Bureau Chiefs of that rank were upgraded to Rear Admiral.  Also, on March 9th, 1862, when the crew of the USS Monitor rotated the turrent and fired at the CSS Virginia in Hampton Roads, every naval craft in the world became immediately obsolete.  On December 31, 1862, while being towed off the coast of North Carolina, in the Graveyard of the Atlantic, a gale force storm ended her life. The infamous USS Monitor sank taking 16 of her crew to the bottom and into history.  The photo shows the crew of the U.S.S. Monitor relaxing.  Click on the picture to notice the sailor reading, and others playing a game on the deck.

1875 $10.50

In 1875, boys entered the Navy as second class. For their time, they received the sum of $10.50 per month plus one day’s ration. The Navy guaranteed its boys the elements of an education and taught them how to be sailors. Before they graduated into the Navy, these lads had to know the principal parts of a ship, the names and uses of all the sails, spars, and riggings.

1883 Electrician Rate
but not on the

USS Vandalia

USS Vandalia The Electrician rate is established when the Trenton becomes the first electrical ship.   It had a 13.2 KW generator for lighting only.   To the right is a picture of the officers who served on the USS Vandalia (1876-1889). Ship's officers on the gun deck, just forward of the port side quarterdeck ladder, at the New York Navy Yard in the summer of 1886, while Vandalia was preparing for service on the Pacific Station.  Her Commanding Officer, Captain Henry L. Howison, is standing at left.  Note tropical uniforms, with white pith helmets. Click on the picture for a larger version.
1884 Naval War College The College was established by Navy Department General Order No. 325 of 6 October 1884 primarily through the efforts of Rear Admiral Stephen B. Luce, USN, who served as its first president.  A leader in the movement to modernize the Navy, Luce was responsible for several significant developments in education and training.  His most enduring single contribution is the Naval War College which he described as "a place of original research on all questions relating to war and to statesmanship connected with war, or the prevention of war."   <S>

1885 Work
It was 1885 before the system of “job families” of the type in use today was devised for enlisted personnel. The next year a scale of pay grades extending from Third Class Seaman to First Class Petty Officer was adopted. Enlisted personnel were grouped into three general classes according to the type of work done; seaman, special, and artificer. The relatively few ratings of the day included Engineer Force Petty Officer, Ship's Corporal or Master at Arms (at that time the only petty officer with chief status), Schoolmaster, Sailmaker's Mate, and Apothecary.

1888 Submarines

Old John King
Taken aboard the Mohican in 1888 The U.S. Navy's involvement with the submarine dates from 1888 when the Bureau of Construction and Repair (BUC&R) sponsored a design competition that brought John Holland a naval contract to build the experimental Plunger.  As the new century dawned, prominent American naval leaders like Admiral George Dewey called the submarine a real threat to international surface forces, leading the Navy to acquire its first submarine in 1900.
Photo was taken this year aboard the USS Mohican by the Assistant Surgeon.  Click on the picture to read detailed accounts of each person.  For example, about Old John King, “Boatswain McKenna reminded me of two escapades of John King which were very amusing and very characteristic of him.”
1890 First Army-Navy Football Game

Anchors Aweigh
First Army Navy football game Navy's 1890 team, the first to play Army, lined up for a postgame portrait at West Point.   Because it was so well drilled, Navy trounced the cadets by a score of 24-0.  There are other great college rivalries but nothing compares with the one that exists between the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, and the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland.   Also, in November of 1906, LT Charles A. Zimmermann (“Zimmy” as the cadets fondly called him), was approached by First Class midshipman Alfred Hart Miles with a request to create a march “with a swing" to it for the football team. The two men reportedly worked out the tune in the Academy Chapel at the organ, and played at Army-Navy game at the end of the month (Navy won!). It became the official march for the 1907 graduating class. The march we commonly hear today called Anchors Aweigh, was offically adopted by the U.S. Navy in 1926.
1893 Chief Petty Officer

USS Indiana
USS Iowa On April 1st the new CPO grade encompassed nine ratings: Master-at-arms, Boatswain's mate, Quartermaster, Gunner's mate, Machinist, Carpenter's mate, Yeoman, Apothecary, and Band masters. Also USS Indiana (BB-1) is launched, the first true battleship in the U.S. Navy.   Picture shows the the Navy's fourth battleship, USS Iowa (BB 4), in 1898 with her crew.  Click picture and note ship's bell below the pilothouse.   Another view of the Iowa can be found <here>.
1895 Training School

The day's routine at the Training School is as follows; 5 A. M., Reveille; 5.10, Shower bath; 5.30, Served with Hot Cocoa; 5.45, Dormitories swept and cleaned; 7.15, Receives dry clothes and undergoes body inspection; 8.00, Breakfast; 8.30, entire building is cleaned and men prepare for "Quarters"; 9.30 Morning "Quarters"; 9.45, Drill Call; 10.30, Recreation; 10.45, Drill Call; 11.30, Recreation and 12.00N., Dinner. For the afternoon: 12.30 Recreation; 1.30, Drill Call; 2.15, Recreation; 2.30, Drill Call; 3.15, Recreation; 4.00, Afternoon "Quarters"; 4.15, Recreation; 5.00, Supper; 5.30, Recreation and review of days studies; 8.45, Sling Hammocks and 9.00 P. M. "Taps" (Wiedemann, 1902).

1897 Clothing

Navy Trousers Regulations governing the uniform of commissioned officers, warrant officers, and enlisted men of the Navy of the Unites States is published.  Of dark navy-­blue cloth; to fit snugly over the hip and clown the thigh to two (2) inches above the knee, from which point downward to be cut bell-shaped and full enough to be pulled over the thigh; one seam on each leg on the inside; wide turn-up hem at the bottom. Waist­band to be two (2) inches wide in front and one and one-half (1 1/2) inches wide at the back, fastened in front by two (2) buttons, the lower one serving also as the center button for the flap; to have a gusset at center of back, two (2) inches wide at top (when open) and four and one-half (4 1/2) inches deep-that is, three (3) inches below the band-with six (6) eyelet holes on each side, two (2) of which shall be in each end of waistband, etc.  Click image for a larger view.

1898 SECNAV Report

The Secretary of the Navy reported to the President, among other things that, “The number of enlisted men allowed by law prior to the outbreak of hostilities was 12,500. On August 15, when the enlisted force reached its maximum, there were 24,123 men in service. This great increase was made necessary by the addition of 128 ships to the Navy.” <link>

1899 Homing Pigeons

U.S. Navy's Manual for the Care and Training of Homing Pigeons was published.  This manual required that a flying book be kept on each pigeon and recorded such information as number of flights, length, and rate of miles per hour. According to a Bureau of Navigation enlisted code book of 1919, pigeon trainers (or Pigeoneers as they were known) were a part of the Quartermaster rating and were identified as Quartermaster (Pigeon), Q.M.(P).

1900 Sailmaker & Schoolmaster gone

First Submarine
 Holland Sailmaker and Schoolmaster rates are disestablished, and Electrician is created.   Also, overcoming competition from fellow American inventor, Simon Lake, John Holland sold his newest model, Holland VI, to the Navy for $150,000.  This 64-ton submarine, commissioned as USS Holland, or SS 1, Oct. 12th, was equipped with an Otto-type gasoline engine for surface running and electric motors for submerged operations.   Picture shows submarine builder, Holland delivering Holland VI to the Navy on April 11th.   Consider this: those who follow will witnessed the birth of the air conditioner, calculator, computer, copier, digital camera, fax machine, laser, microwave oven, radar, satellite surveillance, shipboard communications, smart weapons, smoke detector, sonar, stereo equipment, telephone answering equipment, television, VCR, and countless other technology inventions unimagined at this time.
1902 Bluejacket's

Cook Book
In 1891, ENS A.P. Niblack was recognized by the U.S. Naval Institute for writing the outstanding essay of the year on The Enlistment, Training and Organization of Crews for our New Ships. In it, he laments at the time that there was no uniformity of drills and routines, between ships.  A solution to this problem, he wrote, was hand-books on different drills, accessible to officers and men alike, and a series of short and condensed text books outlining the duties of petty officers, and what they should be required to know to qualify in the ratings they hold. Rising to the rank of rear admiral during World War I, Niblack would remain an advocate of sailors his entire career.  But it was a contemporary of his, LT Ridley McLean, who just over a decade later, brought Niblack’s vision to paper with the first issue of The Bluejacket’s Manual in 1902, when 3,000 copies were printed. In 1913, Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels made the manual a permanent part of the Navy’s educational experience when he issued General Order 63, requiring every non-rated sailor to get two hours of instruction in the basics during their first two years in the Navy. Responsibility for updating the Manual belonged to the Navy’s Bureau of Navigation, the predecessor to the Bureau of Personnel; now the Navy Personnel Command.  
1906 Navy Radio Station

On May 12th a chief petty officer and two sailors drove a horse-drawn wagon to the downtown San Diego pier and loaded up a Massie 5-kw. transmitter/receiver, the state-of-the-art in communications. This was the new age of “wireless radiotelegraphy,” which the Navy would eventually shorten simply to “radio.” <link>

1909 Oil

In January the USS Cheyenne (formally USS Wyoming) is the first large ship to use oil.  Her tests along the California coast were also successful.  In 1912 the Navy's first two oil-burning capital ships USS Nevada (BB-36) and Oklahoma (BB-37) were laid down.  As oil became the primary fuel in use in the Navy the rating of Coal Passer was no longer needed and it was changed to Fireman in 1917.

1910 Naval Training Station

Newport 1910One recruit wrote, “Our first outfit, in addition to the customary whites, underwear, towels, etc., included a plug of Navy Regulation tobacco, a corncob pipe, a tooth brush--with no dentifrice--and two bars of salt-water soap for the manifold purpose of the shower, washing clothes, and scrubbing decks.”  Picture on the right shows “B” Barracks at Naval Training Station, Newport, the Navy's prominent training station at the time. Recruits from Tennessee, Kentucky, etc. arrived at New York and then rode a commercial ship (no commercial planes) to Newport, RI.

1911 Great Lakes Training Center

Opening Day After six years of construction, Great Lakes opens on July 1st.  It consisted of 39 buildings with a capacity of 1,500 men. During World War I, the training center was expanded to 775 buildings with a capacity of almost 50,000 trainees.  More than 125,000 men received their training here during World War I.  During World War II, approximately one million bluejackets were trained at Great Lakes, about one out of every three in the wartime fleet, and twice the number at any other installation. During WWII, boot camp training was segregated; with a few notable exceptions. The picture shows Opening Day Ceremonies.  Also, Waves have been stationed at Great Lakes since the Navy volunteer women's organization was established in 1942.  A Wave recruit training school was located here from 1948 to 1951. <link>
1912 Navy Air

USS Birmingham
First Carrier Flight Five more planes were added to the Navy's air force, and one of these was the Navy's first flying boat, C-1, a 75 horsepower job with a chain-driven propeller. The total number of planes in the Navy now equal seven.
Photo shows the first airplane takeoff from a warship on November 14, 1910. Eugene B. Ely takes his Curtiss pusher airplane off from the deck of USS Birmingham (Scout Cruiser # 2), in Hampton Roads, Virginia, during the afternoon of 14 November 1910. USS Roe (Destroyer # 24), serving as plane guard, is visible in the background. Click picture for a larger view.

1914 Cup of Joe

Josephus Daniels was appointed Secretary of the Navy by President Woodrow Wilson.  Among his Naval reforms were inaugurating the practice of making 100 fleet sailors eligible for the Naval Academy, the introduction of women into the service, and on July 1, 1914, he issued general order 99, which rescinded Article 827, the officers' wine mess.  Rumor has it that from that time on, the strongest drink aboard Navy ships was coffee, and over the years, a cup of coffee became known as "a cup of Joe."  <S>

1915 CNO


The Chief of Naval Operations is established and eventually assumes jurisdiction of the Hydrographic Office and aviation appropriations. The Bureau of Aeronautics will be established in 1921. Also, NASA (then NACA) is created with the Navy's help.  The enabling legislation for the NACA slipped through almost unnoticed as a rider attached to the Naval Appropriation Bill, on 3 March 1915. It was a traditional example of American political compromise.  Their first year budget was $5,000.  Their budget in 2003 will be about $15 billion.

1917 Dog Tags

Loretta Walsh
Yeomanettes The first tags were oval, of Monel metal (a patented corrosion-resistant alloy of nickel and copper, with small amounts of iron and manganese), 1.25 inches wide and 1.5 inches long.  Also, Loretta Walsh becomes the first female Yeoman in the Navy. On March 17, 1917, Loretta Perfectus Walsh enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve, becoming the first active-duty Navy woman, and the first woman to serve in any of the armed forces in a non-nurse occupation.  By the end of World War I, more than 11,250 yeoman females were serving in the U.S. Navy.   Picture shows women in the U.S. Navy assigned to supply duties. At the time the women were referred to as "yeomanettes" although the official designation was Yeoman (F).

1918 Equal Pay When the armistice was signed on Nov. 11, 1918, there were 11,275 yeomanettes in the Naval service, with some 300 "Marinettes" in the Marine Corps. During this period, assignments included recruiting, bond duties, general clerical work, production in ammunition factories, designing camouflage, drafting, translation and radio. While most were stationed in Washington D.C., some were stationed in France, Guam and Hawaii. Men and women at that time earned $28.75 per month, the beginning of equal pay.

1919 Navy Cross Navy Cross becomes the Naval services third-highest award.
1922 All Hands

The first issue of All Hands, then called the “Bureau of Navigation News Bulletin,” was published on August 30th. Their comprehensive online archive can be found <here>

1933 USS Ranger

Commissioning of the USS Ranger; the first true aircraft carrier.

1936 USS Clark's Indoctrination USS Clark The USS Clark, an 1805-ton Porter class destroyer built at Quincy, Massachusetts, was commissioned in May 1936 and was designed to serve as a flagship of a squadron or division of smaller destroyers.  CDR. Hewlett Thebaud, her commanding officer, wrote a "Memorandum for all Officers," that served as his shakedown indoctrination policy.  It was published in the February 12, 1938 issue of the Bureau of Navigation Bulletin (later called All Hands) because of its "obvious value and general application to all ships."

1940 Bureau of Ships The Bureau of Construction and Repair and the Bureau of Engineering are consolidated into BuShips.
1941 Navy Filing Manual

USS Barb

The first edition of the United States Navy Filing Manual was approved by the Secretary of the Navy July 5, 1923, and ordered put into use by all naval activities.  The purpose of the Navy Filing Manual, Fourth Edition, 1941, was to provide a uniform, efficient, and time saving method for recording, filing and finding correspondence. The manual describes how Navy records were stored and retrieved from during World War II and beyond. Although the catagories evolved over time with various editions of the manual and updates, the essential elements of this system remained in use from 1925 until the 1960s. Also, the keel is laid for the USS Barb (SS-220), and no one could have imagined its WW II record of sinking the greatest tonnage of any American submarine, or that their crew were the only Americans to land on Japanese soil.  It would recieve the Presidental Unit Citation, a Navy Unit Commendation, and eight Battle Stars.  "When questioned after the war, Japanese Admirals and Generals alike placed losses to U.S. submariens first in the factors leading to the fall of the Empire" (O'Kane, 1977).

1942 Bureau of Personnel



BuPers established.  Prior to October 1st, the Bureau of Navigation performed BuPers tasks. Also, the Navy Inspector General’s (IG) office was established May 18th after the burning of the USS Lafayette, whereas the Army IG established by General Washington in 1778. Also, The Under Secretary of the Navy, founded the Office of General Council on September 10, 1941 due to the rapid increase in the volume and complexity of ships and aircraft being purchased at the beginning of World War II.  On December 13, 1942, Under Secretary Forrestal decentralized Navy contracting and authorized it to be performed by the various Navy Bureaus most familiar with Navy requirements, individual contractors, and the procurement process. Since then, Navy contracts have been awarded by Navy Commands and offices throughout the world, with advice from counsel assigned to them.



Battle of Midway


 Battle of Midway In January, the Chief of Naval Personnel authorized an Education Service Section within BuPers to administer the year-old Information and Education program.   Also, during the battle of Midway, this photo shows the USS Yorktown (CV-5), shortly after she was hit by three Japanese bombs on 4 June 1942.  Dense smoke is from fires in her uptakes, caused by a bomb that punctured them and knocked out her boilers. Note arresting gear cables and forward palisade elements on the flight deck.  Click on the picture for a larger view.   Also, the Navy creates Naval Combat Demolition Units (NCDUs). These units were manned by hand picked sailors and Marine Raiders who were in peak physical condition, showed outstanding courage and demonstrated unique resourcefulness. Later the Scout and Raider units of the Atlantic and the NCDUs of the Pacific were consolidated into one outfit, the Underwater Demolition Teams (UDTs) affectionately known as "Frogmen."
1944 Operation Overlord:
Normandy Invasion

Crew of LCT 780 Operation Overlord, the invasion of Normandy, is considered the decisive battle of the war in Western Europe.  Before this battle the German Army firmly occupied France and the Low Countries, the Nazi government still had access to the raw materials and industrial capacity of Western Europe, and local resistance to Nazi rule was disorganized and not very effective.  After the successful invasion of France and the expansion of the initial beachheads, the Allied armies moved over to the offensive.  Overlord proved a psychological and physical blow to German military fortunes from which they would never recover.   Picture shows the officers and crew of LCT 780 (Landing Craft Tank).  Click picture for a larger view.

1945 U.S. Government Manual

Iwo Jima

Ice Cream Ship
Iwo Jima The United States Government Manual, the official handbook of the Federal Government, was published by the Division of Public Inquiries of the Special Services Bureau of the Office of War Information. The Manual contains sections dealing with every agency of the Government in the legislative, executive, and judicial branches. This first edition provides a detailed description of the United States Navy organization, including its 16 Naval Districts (no #2), and two river commands.  Also, Iwo Jima means "Sulfur Island," an apt description of eight square miles of volcanic, treeless scrub.  Dominated by 546-foot Mount Suribachi, the island became the site of one of the bloodiest battles in World War II.  Its strategic importance lay in its location halfway between Japan and the airfields of the B-29 Super Fortresses located on the Mariana Islands. Click <here> to hear a radio reporter describe the invasion from a destroyer a few hundred yards off shore, and then click the picture.  Also, the "war's most unusual ship was commissioned in 1945 at a cost of around one million dollars. It was the US Navy's 'Ice Cream Barge' the world's first floating ice cream parlor.  It's sole responsibility was to produce ice cream for US sailors in the Pacific region. The barge crew pumped out around 1,500 gallons every hour!"
1946 Blue Angels At the end of World War II, Adm. Chester W. Nimitz, the Chief of Naval Operations, ordered the formation of a flight demonstration team to keep the public interested in Naval Aviation. The Blue Angels performed their first flight demonstration less than a year later in June 1946 at their home base, Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville, Florida.  Flying the Grumman F6F Hellcat, they were led by Lt. Cmdr. Roy "Butch" Voris.  <S>  Two impressive, large, and rare Blue Angel's today photos can be seen here  and  here.
1948 Hospital Corpsman


Originally called Loblolly Boys in Navy records on the 1798 muster roll of USS Constitution. As the requirements of this job expanded, in 1839, the Navy established the Surgeon's Steward Rating, which in turn became Apothecary in 1866. Navy regulations of 1870 refer to the rating as Bayman (possibly sick-bay-man), and in 1898 it became Hospital Steward, in turn becoming Pharmacist's Mate in 1917.   Also, On July 26, President Harry S. Truman signed Executive Order 9981 establishing the President's Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Services, committing the government to integrating the segregated military.  Also, on 1 April, the United States Navy's first operational Helicopter Squadrons were established to provide "utility" services to ships of both the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets. Helicopter Utility Squadron One (HU-1) and Helicopter Utility Squadron Two (HU-2) both known as the "Fleet Angels," were formed at NAS Lakehurst, New Jersey.  These were the Navy's first helicopter Squadrons.
1951 UCMJ The Uniform Code of Military Justice precludes “Rocks and Shoals.”
1955 LCDR Morris On March 31, LCDR Morris retires from the Navy with 47 years and 5 months service. Only Fleet Admirals William D. Leahy, Ernest J. King, and Chester W. Nimitz- always considered on active duty- exceeded his tenure. LCDR Morris was the last active member of the Great White Fleet. George Morris, born in 1889, served under Presidents Theodore Roosevelt to Dwight Eisenhower, a full quarter of the nation's history. The first entry in his personnel jacket, was the training ship USS Constellation. She was the Navy's last fully sail-powered warship.
1958 E-8 (Senior Chief)
& E-9 (Master Chief) Created
On June 1st, eligibility for promotion to the senior chief level was restricted to chiefs (permanent appointment) with a minimum of four years in grade and a total of ten years of service. For elevation from E-7, or chief, to E-9, a minimum of six years service as a chief petty officer with a total of 13 years service was required.
1959 Bureau of Naval Weapons (BuWeps)

Navy Flag
Navy Flag On September 1st, the Bureau of Ordinance and the Bureau of Aeronautics were consolidated into the Bureau of Naval Weapons resulting in six Navy Bureaus, the others being: Medicine and Surgery, Naval Personnel, Ships, Supplies and Accounts, and Yards and Docks.  Also, the picture on the right is the Navy Flag, adopted this year.  Unlike the national ensign, commission pennant, union jack, and admiral's broad pennant, which fly from gaff, mast, or staff on board naval vessels, the flag of the United States Navy is reserved for display purposes and is carried by an honor guard on ceremonial occasions.
1962 NTDS
at Sea
NTDSNavy Tactical Data System goes to sea and “19 out of every 20 officers in the U.S. Navy greeted the new seagoing command and control system and its digital computers with a mixture of apprehension, distrust, and even rage” (Boslaugh, 1999). It was used to control battleship radar and weapons systems in real-time A Navy DS wrote, “The fleet had no assembler/compiler, so we had to do our programming by sitting on a tall stool so we could manually enter each instruction into the A register. Each instruction was manually stepped into memory. If nothing else, you learned efficient coding. We wrote some maintenance routines, and a few games. I think every DS wrote a patch for War or Spaceship.” See also <link> <link>.
1964 Sonar Technician

Soundman - Pay grades 2c and 3c was established in 1942; pay grades C and 1c established in 1943. Sonarman was established in 1943; title changed to Sonar Technician July 1964.  A brief sonar ping can be heard <here>.  Today's sonar operators are responsible for the operations and maintenance of the most advanced Undersea Warfare combat system in the U.S. Navy the AN/SQQ-89(V)4 sonar suite. The System is Composed of the AN/SQS-53C Active Sonar; AN/SQR-19 Tactical Towed Array Sonar (TACTAS); AN/SQQ-28 Sonobouy Processor and the MK116 mod 7 Under Water Fire Control System. <CA Division>

1966 SYSCOMs

With the creation of the Naval Material Command (NAVMAT) in 1966, came the establishment of the six Systems Commands, replacing the four Material Bureaus. BUSHIPS was split into the Naval Ship Systems Command (NAVSHIPS) and the Naval Electronic Systems Command (NAVELEX), while the Naval Ordnance Systems Command (NAVORD) and the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) were created from BUWEPS, with aviation ordnance functions allocated to NAVAIR.

1970 Z-grams

Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt Jr. led the United States Navy through some of its darkest days since Pearl Harbor. At age 44 he became the youngest officer ever promoted to rear admiral, and at 49 he was the youngest four-star admiral in U.S. history. He commanded the sea service during the tumultuous 1968-'70 years of the Vietnam War, and served as CNO from 1970-74, during which his famous ``Z-grams'' jolted the Navy with a series of fundamental changes that would chart a new course for a professional, technologically advanced seagoing force.  Some of the Z-grams were 57: <Elimination of Demeaning or Abrasive Regulations>, and  68: <Civilian Clothes Aboard Ships>

1971 Historical Center

USS Little Rock
USS Little Rock The Naval Historical Center was established in 1971 to encompass the Naval History Division of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations and the Naval Historical Display Center.   Also, picture on the right shows the USS Little Rock (CLG-4) view of the foredeck as the ship was steaming in the Suez Canal. On June 5th, 1975, after having been closed since the June 1967 war between Egypt and Israel, the Suez Canal was formally reopened for business. USS Little Rock, flagship of the U.S. Sixth Fleet, represented the United States at the ceremonies, which were held at Port Said. According to the 1976 Naval Review, she was the “only foreign warship in the official flotilla that sailed down the canal to Ismalia” on this occasion. Click picture for a larger view.
1974 Navy Training: Total Career Approach

The Chief of Naval Personnel has designated the avionics ratings (AE, AT, AQ AX) as the “lead horse” in a pilot program for the development of an occupational rating training system which will identify and satisfy training requirements through a total career approach. It is based on the 1970 NOTAP (Navy Occupational Task Analysis Program) and the more recent OFIT (Occupational Field Implimentation Teams).


The foundation for Human System Integration (HSI) begins this year.  The Army’s first study on what to do about the disappointing performance and unaffordable manpower costs of new weapons systems and equipment was conducted by retired Generals Walter T. Kerwin and George S. Blanchard.  In examining the Army’s concerns about the mobilization, readiness and sustainability of new systems, the report concluded that it was primarily a lack of consideration of the human in the system that was causing the problem.  Human performance assessments either were not done or were too late to influence weapons design.  Supporting the Kerwin and Blanchard findings, the General Accounting Office (GAO) published reports in 1981 and 1985 attributing 50 percent of equipment failures to human error.  GAO, too, stressed the need for integrating into the acquisition process human disciplines, such as, in particular, manpower, personnel and weapons design.

1982 Last of the Original Bureaus

On 1 Oct 1982, BUMED, the last of the original Navy bureaus, was “restructured” the Naval Medical Command. Even though BUMED, established through the 1842 congressional act, remained on the books, as did the title Chief, BUMED, for all practical purposes, the old Bureau of Medicine and Surgery ceased to exist.

1986 Goldwater-Nichols

Les Aspen, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee says that the Goldwater-Nichols DoD Reorganization Act “is probably the greatest sea change in the history of the American military since the Continental Congress created the Continental Army in 1775” (Locher, 1996).

1987 Lone Sailor The Lone Sailor statue represents all people who ever served, are serving now, or who will serve in the U.S. Navy.  The Lone Sailor is a composite of the U.S. Navy "bluejacket," past, present and future. The bronze used in the casting included artifacts from eight Naval ships, including fragments from the post-revolutionary ships U.S.S. Constitution and Constellation; the Civil War-era U.S.S. Hartford; the battleship U.S.S. Maine; the iron-hulled steamer/sailing ship U.S.S. Ranger; the World War II-era cruiser U.S.S. Biloxi; the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Hancock, and the nuclear-powered submarine U.S.S. Seawolf. <S>  An eight inch replica of the Lone Sailor w/Seabag & Cleat can be purchased <here>.

1988 JOTS In January, ships deploying to the Persian Gulf were some of the first in the Navy to receive a little-known piece of equipment called JOTS, which was the first attempt by the Navy to provide situational awareness over-the-horizon. The state-of-the-art for computers was Zenith 248’s with monochrome screens, 20 MB Hard drives, and 5 1/4 floppy disks. For the first time, message traffic could be composed, reviewed, released and transmitted by one person in a matter of minutes (vice hours) with the combination of the computer, a FACIT tape punch and a Radioman (RM) who had the technical knowledge to make it all work.
1998 Battle Force E-Mail

Battle Force E-Mail 66 (BFEM 66) is added to the list of data transfer capabilities and has encouraged our allies to invest in this relatively inexpensive system. When fully fielded, this equipment will allow each of our ships to transmit data via High Frequency (HF) radios connected to PCs, providing redundancy to other more robust systems, and facilitating data transfer with coalition ships having more limited communications capabilities.  Few if any, could have imagined that a brief decade or so from now we would be so dependent on keyboards and screens attached to the “big brain.”

2000 Covenant Leadership   Admiral Vern Clark, future CNO, says, "Remember these two words: Covenant leadership."  What I believe more than anything else, Clark said, is that we make commitments to one another. Leaders promise and commit things to subordinates, and subordinates promise and commit things to the bosses. In our case, our people promise to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.  They commit to serve.  Service, Clark said, is a concept dear to his heart.  Also, in 2004 the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy will say, "Every Navy leader, at every level, must take an active role in growing & developing other Sailors. No matter what your rank or job may be, you have an opportunity to lead. This week I'd like to talk with you about 'covenant leadership'... a topic the CNO feels is important to all of us."  Thus, covenant leadership is the bedrock of HSI.
2001 Navy Enterprise
The USS George Washington tested the first Navy Enterprise Portal, beginning in December through May 2002, validating designs for afloat portal architecture.  Portal equipment was operational on SIPRnet and NIPRnet, with over 50 applications available to 3,000 users during the pilot test.
2002 IT-21



Ships deploying to the 5th Fleet AOR, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) are outfitted with the Global Command and Control System--Maritime (GCCS-M) a fourth or fifth generation of JOTS and in addition, receive Internet Protocol (IP) traffic (SIPR/NIPR) over commercial and military satellites. The state-of-the-art for computers is the IT-21 Integrated Shipboard Network System (ISNS), a networked LAN, with workstations that have flat-panel LCD 32-bit color screens, 20 (or larger) Gigabyte Hard Drives, and CD ROMs. Also, the new SYSCOM, Naval Network Warfare Command’s mission is to act as the Navy’s central operational authority for space, network management and information operations in support of naval and joint forces afloat and ashore; to operate a secure and interoperable naval network that will enable effects-based operations and innovation.

2003 HSI

On June 27, the CNO speaks at the Human Systems Integration (HSI) Symposium. Admiral Clark said that the Navy had "two asymmetric advantages - incredible technology and incredible people." And he told the crowd that they ".were at the intersection of those two things.".   Also, “The war was won by chat.” This quote during an HSI interview on October 1, 2003 succinctly describes how Operation Iraqi Freedom, and the conduct of all future wars, has been changed by digital technology.
2004 CWO5

The new rank of Chief Warrant Officer Five was authorized in October 2002 and began with the fiscal year 2004 selection cycle.  Implementing this new rank ensures the Navy will retain superior technical leadership for a full 30-year career. (Stilipec, 2004).

Practically all of the comment in this table is either a direct quote or a close paraphrase from the resources identified on this website.



The objective of this U.S. Navy: Then and Now site is to demonstrate that human systems are the central component in the Navy, and that policy, technology, education and training, etc. must be designed with a human systems integration focus.  For example, consider the impressive advances in C2, ISR, platform capability, and weapons technology in this Navy timeline (see 1900 above), and then contrast that with human capabilities which have remained relatively stable over time.  Thus, many advances in technology have increased, not decreased mental demands of workers, while the human system has remained relatively stable. Our emotional, mental, and physical abilities (and liabilities) are about what they were in our 1776 Navy.  Consequently, effective teams and organizations derive from careful considerations and understandings about human systems and their interface to culture, leadership, policy, training, and technology.

During the second half of 2003 the Naval Network Warfare Command's FORCEnet Department and the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command supported one of the most comprehensive and energetic human systems integration lessons learned efforts in military history.  Sixteen Navy platforms (Air, CV, DDG, LPA, SS, etc.) on both coasts were visted where HSI-specific interviews were conducted with OIF-experienced senior personnel.  Forms, covering all of the current HSI topics and additional ones (e.g., Education, Manpower, Personnel, Training, Habitability, Health Hazards, Medical Factors, Personnel Survivability, System Safety, Collaboration, Data & Information, Knowledge and Wisdom, and Human Factors Engineering) were administerd to approximately 2,000 personnel.  One of the key findings from this effort is that the Navy has yet to address the need for a periodic, comprehensive, and systematic HSI-focused lessons learned effort.  The value of lessons learned, especially for human systems, was perhaps stated best by Army Brig. Gen. Robert W. Cone, director of the Joint Center for Lessons Learned in October, 2003, when he said, "Too often (we) wait until the war's over and collect information, and what you miss is important to the warfighters....We were able to ask people what their problems were one day, and then go back and find out how it turned out.  That's critical in the lessons learned business. Too often in the military, (we) solve a problem and don't tell anyone about it, and the guy who needs to know about it is probably some other combatant commander" (Vantran, 2003).

Personnel stress provides a good example.  Stress was found to be a major factor in both the HSI study as well as in the 2002 Department of Defense Survey of Health Related Behaviors Among Military Personnel (Bray, Hourani, Rae, et. al, 2002) study  In the latter report, "Military personnel were more likely to describe their military duties (32.3%) as more stressful than their family or personal lives (18.7%). The most frequently indicated stressors for men were deployment (18.9%) and separation from family (18.7%), whereas the most frequently indicated stressors for women were changes in personal life (21.4%), separation from family (21.2%), and deployment (19.6%)." Another perennial example is safety. Kerrick (2004) reports that human error accounts for between 87 and 94 percent of all Class A mishaps, and those numbers have been relatively stable over time.   Kerrick's Slide 27 is a dramatic statement about the leadership role in safety, and by extension, in all HSI domains.  That role is neither clearly explicated nor understood in the Navy today.  Consequently, it is not surprising to read a Secretary of Defense memo dated 19 May 2003 stating that, “World-class organizations do not tolerate preventable accidents. Our accident rates have increased recently, and we need to turn this situation around. I challenge all of you to reduce the number of mishaps and accident rates by at least 50% in the next two years" (Kerrick, 2004).  Other critical findings in the HSI study were about habitability and training.

Useful military Human Systems Integration websites include those for the Air Force, the Army, and the Navy.

You are invited to add your comment in this webpage's Weblog.


Selectively Hyperlinked Resources:

Note: These resource links provide interesting glimpses into the past where, for example, you can read about hammocks, moxie (the drink), holystoning, $1.00 paydays, Krags (rifles), jackstays, and smokehouses all in the September 1960, All Hands.  However, be cautious about downloading some of the following links.  For example, that September 1960 All Hands pdf file is 2,737 K, and will take about 6 minutes and 40 seconds using a 56K modem.  Doc and htm files generally are much quicker.


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This Navy Then and Now page was created May 7, 2004, and revised October 13, 2015.
Copyright © 2004 - 2015 George Edw. Seymour, Ph.D., Systems Information Resources.   All rights reserved.
P.O. Box 461719, Escondido, California, U.S.A. 92046-1719.

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