WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Whether based in the United States or abroad, Sailors held celebrations to mark the Navy’s 243rd birthday with other service members, civilians, guests and community members while top leaders have sent messages to the fleet reflecting on the theme “Forged by the Sea.”
Sailors and Marines aboard the amphibious transport dock ship USS New York (LPD 21) celebrated the Navy’s birthday while en route to support the largest NATO exercise in more than 20 years.
"The New York and all of our Marine teammates have had an incredibly successful year, deployed forward – twice – to support and defend freedom around the globe while furthering our nation's goals,” said Capt. Brent DeVore, New York’s commanding officer. “Our strength at sea, cemented in our bonds of teamwork and common purpose, permits us to operate at this high of a level. To celebrate this Navy birthday at sea, on our way to Trident Juncture to work with our allied and partner navies, is appropriate to the kind of year we have had and our Navy's ability to respond to regional crises."
In keeping with a time-honored Navy tradition, the birthday celebration began with a cake cutting ceremony. The first slice of cake was cut by the youngest Sailor, Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) Airman Apprentice Jared Carter and the oldest Sailor, Navy Chaplin Merlin Stephan, signifying the pass down of information from one generation to the next.
“I feel very honored to be able to be a part of the New York’s celebration of the Navy’s birthday,” Carter said. “Given the naval history and all the Sailors who have come before me and all the Sailors who come after me, it is a big honor to just be a small part of a much larger picture.”
The celebration continued with an ice cream social, followed by a N.A.V.Y. themed Bingo and movie night held in the ship’s chapel.
“I feel like it is the best way to celebrate the Navy’s birthday because you are out to sea,” said Yeoman Seaman Apprentice Raashaun Noaks. “There is no better way to celebrate. I think of winning and lots of success but also, when you think of the 243 years, you think of all the people who paid the ultimate sacrifice for the Navy. We celebrate this day for them.”
Early this year, New York deployed for six months in support of maritime security operations and national security interests in Africa and Europe. After a brief maintenance period, New York left its homeport en route to Newport, Rhode Island, for the 23rd Annual International Seapower Symposium, helping to foster and strengthen global relationships between the U.S. and over 100 countries around the world. New York most recently departed in support of Trident Juncture, a NATO led exercise taking place in portions of Norway, Sweden and Finland during October and November.
Training Support Center (TSC) San Diego members commemorated the birthday Oct. 11 in the TSC San Diego Auditorium where Capt. Michael S. Feyedelem, TSC San Diego’s commanding officer, said the Navy’s role has grown since its birth in 1775.
“We celebrate what the Navy means to our nation and the contributions that all of you make,” Feyedelem said. “Most nations have an army or land defense force, but the strong nations have a Navy. There are so many times in our history that having a strong Navy has impacted our future.”
Additionally, a bell ringing ceremony was conducted, in which 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.
The celebration at TSC San Diego was concluded with a cake cutting performed by the longest and shortest serving TSC staff members.
In addition, more than 370 Information Warfare Training Command (IWTC) Monterey Sailors, guests and community members gathered Oct. 5 for the Navy’s birthday.
"Sailors need to understand their history,” said Cmdr. Michael Salehi, commanding officer of IWTC Monterey. “They can leverage these lessons for future endeavors.”
A birthday ball commemoration was hosted by the IWTC Monterey Navy Ball Committee that spent the last year raising funds and planning the event which included a social hour, dinner, official ceremony and entertainment.
The observance included military honors such as parading the colors and the Prisoner of War and Missing in Action remembrance ceremony as well as time honored naval traditions such as the piping aboard of distinguished guests by the honor boatswain. With its large population of new accession Sailors, this year's ceremony was the first for many IWTC Monterey students.
"It is so exciting to be here with fellow shipmates and our senior leaders,” said Seaman Alyssa Decker, an IWTC Monterey student at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center (DLIFLC). “I am humbled by this experience; seeing everyone dressed up, enjoying this important night. I feel now that I have an even greater respect and understanding of the Navy."
Guest speaker for the ceremony Capt. James Adkisson III, who served as a cryptologic technician interpretive (CTI) graduating from DLIFLC as a Russian linguist, recalled how his experience as a CTI shaped his approach to leadership.
"Being a CTI has given me a better appreciation and understanding of other cultures,” Adkisson said. “This understanding is what lends to our Navy's diversity. I have served in Europe, Asia and Africa, and the melding of technology, culture and diversity is what truly brings the strength of diversity to our Navy."
Additionally, Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training Unit (CNATTU) Keesler students, instructors and staff were on hand Oct. 12 at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, for birthday celebrations. The ceremony, led by Electronics Technician 1st Class Bauranege Fleurimond, included a history of the U.S. Navy’s birth.
“It’s important to know where we come from,” Fleurimond said. “Our history and heritage is an integral part of our service culture, and today is a great day to share a piece of that with the next generation of Sailors.”
Attendees also heard from Cmdr. Timothy Knapp, CNATTU commanding officer.
“This year’s ‘Forged by the Sea’ theme fits perfectly with our training mission here at Keesler,” Knapp said. “Many of our course graduates are headed to deployable units.”
This year, Aerographer’s Mate Airman Geoffrey Haraway and Chief Aerographer’s Mate Andrew Ribar were honored with the duties of cake cutting.
“It’s exciting to be a part of this ceremony today,” Haraway said. “I’m looking forward to graduation and getting out to the fleet and experiencing everything the Navy is offering me.”
Meanwhile, Hawaii-based Sailors had a commemoration Oct. 12 at the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument Visitor Center.
This year’s theme is “Forged by the Sea” or “Haku ‘la E Ke Kai,” Rear Adm. Brian P. Fort, commander, Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, said adding “Today, our Navy continues to deploy to protect and promote American interests and values around the world. We continue to stand together with our allies against those who would challenge our freedom. And we continue to live by our core values: Honor, courage and commitment.”
Navy Region Hawaii kicked-off the commemoration with a bell-ringing ceremony. The keynote speaker was Capt. Jeff Bernard, commander of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
Navy Information Operations Command (NIOC) Hawaii’s Sailor of the Year Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) 2nd Class Kristina Nagel was also a guest speaker on a local TV station Oct. 4 sharing her positive experiences while serving in the Navy.
As Navy birthday events continued through Oct. 15, the Navy Exchange Mall at Pearl Harbor hosted a celebration including a cake-cutting ceremony, performances by the U.S. Pacific Fleet Band and prizes. Navy Region Hawaii and Navy Information Operations Command Hawaii hosted a Navy ball. The Pearl Harbor Rotary Club hosted a Navy birthday presentation during its meeting at Oahu Country Club.
In Honolulu, Sailors and Navy Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (NJROTC) cadets from James Campbell High School participated Oct. 12 in a cake cutting ceremony in honor of the Navy’s birthday.
“Today, there is no naval force on the planet that can compare,” Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Commanding Officer Capt. Jeff Bernard said. “It is our men and women in uniform who make U.S. Navy great. These Sailors with us today are proud representatives of America’s Navy with a tradition of excellence that began 243 years ago.”
The cadets presented the colors during the ceremony and stuck around afterwards to speak with Sailors.
“This was a really great experience for all of us,” NJROTC Petty Officer 3rd Class Maya Beadle said. “It gave us a chance to get to talk to enlisted Sailors and officers to see what jobs would interest us in the Navy.”
In Manama, Bahrain, more than 500 service members and guests celebrated American naval history during the Navy Birthday Ball at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.
Vice Adm. Scott Stearney, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces, served as the guest speaker as well as the guest of honor for the ceremony.
“For 243 years, and multiple generations of Sailors, the sea has forged our nation,” Stearney said. “It has forged our Navy and continues to forge our Sailors and our eternal destiny. Our nation recognized that our prosperity was linked to a strong and capable maritime force.”
U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations encompasses about 2.5 million square miles of water area and includes the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean.
The United States Navy traces its origins to the Continental Navy. An Oct. 13, 1775 resolution of the Continental Congress established what the United States Navy is now. In 1972, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Elmo Zumwalt authorized recognition of Oct. 13 as the Navy’s birthday.
Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer said in a message to the fleet that the Navy is ready to fight, respond and defend wherever there is need but it needs to do it with a sense of urgency and efficiency.
“Because of your hard work and dedication, the foundation for restoring readiness and increasing lethality has been set. But as we enter our 244th year of service, we must now build on that foundation. I need you to continually think of how to improve the delivery of the Navy the nation needs with a committed sense of urgency,” Spencer said.
Other top Navy leaders, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John M. Richardson and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Russell Smith, said happy birthday to the Navy in a video posted on social media.
Smith said that America has been kept safe through exceptional talent, dedication to duty and strength of character.
“John Paul Jones once said ‘men mean more than guns in the rating of a ship.’ That’s what this is about – our people,” Smith said in reference to the first well-known naval commander in the American Revolutionary War.
He also said that with all the creativity and innovation, the Navy will meet any challenges “head on” and is prepared “for whatever comes next.”
Recalling landmark battles such as the War of 1812 and the Battle of Midway, Richardson said, “Throughout our history, our Sailors have always risen to the occasion and punched above their weight when the nation called.”
Richardson closed his remarks with a quote from Jones:
“He who cannot risk, will not win.’ This is the year that we win. Wherever you are around the world – on a ship, in a squadron, take some time to think about what this year means as we go and we win it. We earn it every single day, every single watch.”
Over the past two and a half centuries, the Navy has grown to become the largest, most advanced and most lethal fighting force the world has ever known. The Navy today has more than 328,000 personnel on active duty and around 100,000 personnel in the Navy Reserve, as well as, 286 deployable battle force ships and approximately 270,000 civilian employees.