NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- U.S. Fleet Forces (USFF) Command hosted a ceremony commemorating the 237th birthday of the U.S. Navy aboard the Battleship Wisconsin Oct. 12.
Adm. Bill Gortney, USFF commander, served as the event's guest speaker and discussed the Navy's history and contributions in building our nation.
"While we are here today to celebrate our Navy's 237th birthday, this year also marks the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, and we learned a lot during that war," said Gortney. "One, we need strong warships that are flexible, adaptable and built to last by America. Two, we need bold and innovative commanders with highly motivated and incredibly proficient crews. Three, we are a seagoing nation that not only requires a strong coastal Navy but also a blue water Navy that can project power overseas to protect freedom of navigation at strategic maritime crossroads where shipping lanes and our security interests intersect. These are the conditions under which our Navy started. These are the lessons we learned more than two hundred years ago. These are the imperatives by which we must operate today."
Over 300 hundred military and local community leaders gathered on the fantail of Wisconsin to help celebrate the event. Gortney acknowledged the significance of the venue and the more than 200 years of history the city shares with the Navy.
"As I look up and down the banks of the Elizabeth River, I see more evidence of this unique and long-standing bond between the military and a community that supports us in all that we do, Portsmouth Naval Hospital, Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Newport News Shipbuilding and the numerous smaller shipyards that dot the waterfront," said Gortney. "They are an integrated part of the skyline, just as our Sailors and their families are integral to the lives of our civilian neighbors, and vice versa."
The ceremony included the ringing of nine bells, signifying the past and the future of the Navy and a retiring of the colors. The event was one of many held around the country to recognize the service and heritage of the U.S. Navy since its founding.
The U.S. Navy was born in 1775, when George Washington took command of three armed schooners under Continental authority to intercept British supply ships. Congress adopted a resolution establishing the Continental Navy on Oct. 13, which later became known as the U.S. Navy's official birthday.
In 1972 Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt authorized recognition of Oct. 13 as the Navy's birthday. In contrast to Navy Day, the Navy Birthday is intended as an internal activity for members of the active forces and reserves, as well as retirees, and dependents.
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For more news from U.S. Fleet Forces Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/clf/.