Navy LogoThe US Navy has changed a lot since 1775, but it has always been the nation’s premier maritime fighting force. October 13 marks the Navy’s 242nd birthday, celebrating a mission that started as the Continental Navy, established during the Revolutionary War but not to fight the mighty British fleet. In fact, the Navy was designed to work with privateers to run tactical raids on the transports that supplied the British war efforts. The Americans knew they were no match for the British in head-to-head open sea warfare, so they opted instead to build a fleet of smaller ships that could make sneak attacks and quick strikes to cut off resupply efforts.

QuoteAs with its land-based brother, the Continental Navy was dismissed at the end of the war, but October 13, 1775 remains its official birthdate.

The new United States was without a navy until the Naval Act of 1794 formally established the US Navy with a small fleet of six frigates, including the famous USS Constitution, a.k.a., Old Ironsides. Though we don’t often think of the Founding Fathers as having much to do with the Navy, John Adams is often considered “the father of the American Navy” because of his staunch support. Adams believed the fledgling country should have a navy that rivaled the British in size and stature. His vision paid off a short time later.

Old IronsidesThe Navy’s first test came with the First Barbary War in 1801 as it defended US ships from Barbary pirates, blockaded Barbary ports, and attacked the Barbary fleet. Its first encounter with arch-enemy Britain came in the War of 1812, when it won eleven ship-on-ship duals with British ships, bolstering confidence that America truly had a naval force that could hold its own.

Though the American Civil War was mostly a land battle, the Navy played an important role against the Confederacy by blocking all major ports and shutting down imports and exports. The most famous Civil War naval battle pitted the new ironclad boats USS Monitor and CSS Virginia and an assortment of wood ships in the Battle of Hampton Roads in 1862.

Even though the original ironclads were awkward and hard to maneuver, they spawned a revolution in ship construction that saw the demise of wood ships and the birth of an all-metal fleet that formed the basis for the navy of today.

QuotesWith the invention of the airplane, aviation became an integral part of the Navy in 1911, when a Curtiss A-1 Triad was introduced into service. The first aircraft carrier, the Lexington class, became operational in 1927.

Dixie Cup

World Wars I and II saw extensive naval warfare, as the US took on Germany’s formidable fleet in both wars, including the new German undersea weapon, the sneaky and destructive U-boat. Not one to pass up a learning opportunity, the Navy began building its own underwater fighting force that evolved into the world’s more silent and powerful submarine fleet. Today, the US Navy is the most powerful naval fighting force on Earth.

Propper’s relationship with the Navy began when the company began in 1967 with a contract to make the iconic white Dixie Cup cap worn by enlisted sailors.

Happy birthday, US Navy!