WASHINGTON -- Defense officials and servicemembers gathered Oct. 9 to kickoff the Navy's 237th birthday week in Washington, D.C.
Held in the Pentagon auditorium, the ceremony featured a cake cutting and traditional bell ringing, as well as remarks from Pentagon leaders including Deputy Secretary of Defense Dr. Ashton Carter, who told the crowd what has kept the U.S. Navy the best in the world for so many years.
"Two hundred thirty seven years ago, John Adams and members of the Continental Congress recognized that a nation that aspired to greatness, even back then, required a great Navy," said Carter. "It's not the strategy, it's not the ships and the planes that really define our Navy... it's you. It's the men and women who choose to serve. It's in you that the naval tradition lives... and for that, you have our nation's gratitude."
The United States Navy traces its beginnings back to Oct. 13, 1775, when it was known as the Continental Navy. Though it started as a small anti-piracy force, it is now the largest navy in the world, and has a battle fleet tonnage greater than the next 13 largest navies combined.
Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said that the Navy has long played a critical role in ensuring America remains free.
"In 1776, we declared our independence in Philadelphia. In 1781, we won our independence in Yorktown. But in 1812, we guaranteed our independence and ensured our future by defeating, then, the greatest Navy in world, the British navy," said Mabus. "We've come a long way since the original frigates, but the things that make us a great Navy have not changed. The Navy is ready to answer all bells. Happy birthday Navy."
In celebration of the Navy's 237th birthday, the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) will hold a worldwide all hands call, Oct. 11, at 1:00 p.m. EST.