NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- Naval Station Norfolk (NSN) held a birthday celebration to mark the Navy's 237th birthday on the base parade field Oct. 12.
Capt. David Culler, commanding officer of NSN, said in his opening remarks it is the Sailors who create and preserve the Navy's heritage for those in the future to uphold.
"From sailing ships to ironclad steam ships to nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, our Sailors have been the heartbeat of an unmatched combat team that has had a significant impact on preserving the freedom that we all cherish." said Culler.
Electrician's Mate 3rd Class Lindsay Boshak read Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus' birthday message.
"While we have innovated and built the world's greatest fleet through the years, what makes our Navy part of the best expeditionary fighting force the world has ever known is our Sailors," said Mabus. "You are standing the watch and sustaining peace in the global commons."
Air Traffic Controller Airman Stacy Maddox read Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Jonathon Greenert's birthday message.
"Happy 237th birthday shipmates! I could not be more proud of our Sailors, civilian work force, and families," said Greenert. "I am grateful to be your shipmate and a part of the greatest Navy the world has ever known."
At 900 a.m., the ceremonial eight bells rang to signify the end of the current birthday year and were followed by a ceremonial strike of one bell to signify the start of the new birthday year.
Following tradition, the most senior officer and youngest enlisted Sailor cut the Navy's birthday cake.
Rear Adm. Townsend Alexander, commander, Navy Region Mid-Atlantic, and Information Systems Technician Seaman Felicia Donaldson assigned to NSN, cut the birthday cake concluding the birthday celebration.
Donaldson said that she is a third-generation Sailor and can't wait to tell her grandfather she cut the cake.
"This was a great honor and I am very proud to be a part of tradition," said Donaldson.
Beginning with the establishment of the Navy in 1775 and continuing to the current modern fleet, the Navy has stood the watch as the shield of the Republic for more than two centuries. The age-old practice of sounding the bell during watches, on the hour and half hour, is symbolic of the Navy's hallmark efforts and is appropriate in the nuclear and missile-oriented Navy at the dawn of the 21st century, as it ever was. From the historic sailing vessels in the late 18th century to every command today, it signals that someone stands the watch. Bell ringing serves as a powerful and tangible reminder of the history, heritage and accomplishments of the naval service and is intended to be an enduring tradition of the Navy birthday celebration.
For more news from Navy Public Affairs Support Element, Norfolk, visit www.navy.mil/local/pacennorfolk/.