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Good afternoon, everyone. What a great Navy day it is. Undersecretary Raven, Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Smith, MCPON Honea, fellow flag and general officers, Secretaries, Sailors, Navy civilians, friends, and shipmates, thank you very much for being here this afternoon as we take a minute out of our busy day to get together as a Navy family and commemorate the birthday of our Navy.
Let me give a quick shout out to the color guard and the Navy band for adding so much to our ceremony today. How about a big round of applause for them.
You know, 248 years ago … on a Friday just like today … members of the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia voted to repurpose two sailing vessels with weapons capable of intercepting munitions and supply ships headed to British troops in America. With the lobbying of George Washington and John Adams, our Founding Fathers recognized that they needed to commission a naval force to counter Britain’s unchallenged command of the sea. They realized that the Royal Navy’s naval superiority fueled its army ashore, it wreaked havoc on American commerce, and tightened King George’s grip of the Thirteen Colonies.
That fateful vote cast by the Continental Congress would become the Navy’s birth certificate …and that small, but capable, Continental Navy would prove indispensable to the creation of our Nation.
Since that day, the United States Navy has stood the watch … 24 hours a day … seven days a week … protecting our shores and promoting our interests around the world.
Since that day, in both peace and war, our Sailors have operated from seabed to space so the world can live free and benefit from the rules based international order. And since that day, the Navy has delivered 248 years of power, presence, and protection — the central theme for this year’s birthday celebration. Highlighting the Navy’s historical and long-standing commitment to being forward deployed, highly trained, and dedicated to defending America’s interests at sea, on land, and in the sky.
From John Paul Jones taking tall ships to sea in the Revolutionary War … to Old Ironsides going head-to-head in pitched battle with the Royal Navy in the War of 1812; and from Admiral Farragut storming through the minefields in Mobile Bay … to the birth of naval aviation in 1911; and, from Admiral Nimitz sweeping across the Pacific with the largest fleet in history … to Admiral Rickover building the world’s foremost nuclear force, our Navy has always adapted and delivered warfighting advantage for our Nation.
For generations, a strong Navy has ensured American influence across the world, expanded economic opportunities for the American people, and safeguarded global security and prosperity.
This mission continues today … undisrupted and unabated.
Right now, we have four carrier strike groups and an amphibious readiness group, with a Marine expeditionary unit embarked, that’s about 30,000 Sailors and Marines deploying and underway. The Vinson and Ike Carrier Strike Groups will be getting ready to head out soon on their routine deployments. The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group and the Bataan’s Amphibious Readiness Group continue their patrols in support of security and stability in the Indo-Pacific and the Middle East. And just this past week, the Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group moved to the Eastern Mediterranean to underscore the United States’ ironclad support to Israel’s defense and send a clear message to any maligned actor seeking to take advantage of this conflict. No other navy in the world could build, train, and deploy such a combat-credible force operating in five different locations around the world.
Together, with the Marine Corps, your Navy delivers all-domain power to the Joint Force to deter would-be adversaries and respond to crises and if called to do so, fight and win decisively. This is our calling … and this is 248 years of power, presence, and protection.
As we look into the future and the decisive decade ahead and I look out at this great group of naval leaders represented here, I cannot imagine a better team – both uniformed and civilian – to carry out and carry on this proud legacy. Time and time again, it’s our Sailors and our civilians – who are our true warfighting advantage – they have risen to the challenge of the moment and I know that you will always be ready to answer the call.
So, today is a celebration of our Navy, but most importantly, it’s a celebration of our people … a celebration of you. I want to express my heartfelt thanks to you, to your families, to all of your support networks for choosing to serve every day, choosing to serve a cause greater than yourself. What you do matters everyday. In support of our Navy, in support of our great Nation and in support of our Constitution.
And on this day, it’s also important to reflect on the many Navy heroes who have gone before us. Men and women who have embodied the core values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment.
I am forever humbled by the roll-call of heroes in our Navy history … who have made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our freedom.
Let us continue to build on their legacy and the vision set forth by our founding fathers and share the story of our Navy. The stories of Admiral Nimitz, Eugene Ely, Admiral Rickover with our families, our loved ones, and the American people.
Let us work together to ensure the Navy remains the preeminent fighting force on, under, and above the seas for generations to come. And let us take great pride in this life of service in our amazing Navy.
Thank you. It’s all about war fighting, warfighters, and winning.
Happy 248th Birthday, Navy.
Adm. Lisa Franchetti
13 October 2023
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