Hear the awesome sound of US Navy aircraft during flight operations. The United States Navy (USN) is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. It was estimated to be larger than the next 13 largest navies combined in terms of battle fleet tonnage in 2009. The U.S. Navy also has the world's largest aircraft carrier fleet, with ten in service, two under construction, eight more planned, and two in active reserve. The service has 317,054 personnel on active duty and 109,671 in the Navy Reserve. It operates 290 ships in active service and more than 3,700 aircraft.
The U.S. Navy traces its origins to the Continental Navy, which was established during the American Revolutionary War and was essentially disbanded as a separate entity shortly thereafter. It played a major role in the American Civil War by blockading the Confederacy and seizing control of its rivers. It played the central role in the World War II defeat of Japan. The 21st century U.S. Navy maintains a sizable global presence, deploying in such areas as East Asia, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East. It is a blue-water navy with the ability to project force onto the littoral regions of the world, engage in forward areas during peacetime, and rapidly respond to regional crises, making it an active player in U.S. foreign and defense policy.
The Navy is administratively managed by the Department of the Navy, which is headed by the civilian Secretary of the Navy. The Department of the Navy is itself a division of the Department of Defense, which is headed by the Secretary of Defense. The Chief of Naval Operations is a four-star admiral and the senior naval officer of the Department of the Navy. However, the CNO may not be the highest ranking naval officer in the armed forces if the Chairman or the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are Navy officers, who by law, outrank the CNO.
The mission of the Navy is to maintain, train and equip combat-ready Naval forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression and maintaining freedom of the seas.
—Mission statement of the United States Navy
From the New Recruits Handbook:
The mission of the United States Navy is to protect and defend the right of the United States and our allies to move freely on the oceans and to protect our country against her enemies.
The United States Navy is a seaborne branch of the military of the United States. The Navy's three primary areas of responsibility:
The preparation of naval forces necessary for the effective prosecution of war
The maintenance of naval aviation, including land-based naval aviation, air transport essential for naval operations and all air weapons and air techniques involved in the operations and activities of the Navy
The development of aircraft, weapons, tactics, technique, organization, and equipment of naval combat and service elements.
U.S. Navy training manuals state that the mission of the U.S. Armed Forces is "to prepare and conduct prompt and sustained combat operations in support of the national interest." As part of that establishment, the U.S. Navy's functions comprise sea control, power projection and nuclear deterrence, in addition to "sealift" duties.
The Navy falls under the administration of the Department of the Navy, under civilian leadership of the Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV). The most senior naval officer is the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), a four-star admiral who is immediately under and reports to the Secretary of the Navy. At the same time, the Chief of Naval Operations is one of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, which is the second-highest deliberatory body of the armed forces after the United States National Security Council, although it only plays an advisory role to the President and does not nominally form part of the chain of command. The Secretary of the Navy and Chief of Naval Operations are responsible for organizing, recruiting, training, and equipping the Navy so that it is ready for operation under the command of the unified combat command commanders.
Main article: List of units of the United States Navy
There are nine components in the operating forces of the U.S. Navy: the United States Fleet Forces Command (formerly United States Atlantic Fleet), United States Pacific Fleet, United States Naval Forces Central Command, United States Naval Forces Europe, Naval Network Warfare Command, Navy Reserve, United States Naval Special Warfare Command, Operational Test and Evaluation Force, and Military Sealift Command. Fleet Forces Command controls a number of unique capabilities, including Military Sealift Command, Naval Expeditionary Combat Command, and Navy Cyber Forces.
The United States Navy has six active numbered fleets – Third, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh Fleet and Tenth Fleets are each led by a three-star vice admiral,