By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Chris Cavagnaro, USS George Washington Public Affairs
CELEBES SEA (Oct. 13, 2014) – Sailors aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) celebrated the U.S. Navy’s 239th birthday on the ship’s aft mess decks, Oct. 13.
Capt. Greg Fenton, George Washington’s commanding officer, served as the event’s guest speaker and discussed the Navy’s history and contributions in building our nation.
“We’ve come a long way in 239 years,” said Fenton. “From the start of the first Sailors who manned the decks of USS Constitution and those who participated in many different conflicts over 239 years, to the outstanding example of Sailors who populate George Washington today, it’s very impressive to see how far we’ve come.”
The Continental Navy was established on Oct. 13, 1775 by the Continental Congress to dispatch two armed vessels to search for munitions ships that supplied the British army in America.
“These two ships were initially used to defend the colonies against the British navy and were soon joined by many other vessels,” said Fenton. “The Navy rapidly expanded its presence across the Atlantic Ocean and into the Mediterranean Sea where they encountered pirates that threatened the commercial shipping lanes. These missions continue to this day and stand as an example of why forward-presence matters.”
During the celebration, George Washington Sailors recalled key events and traditions that helped shape the Navy over the past 239 years.
“The Navy’s birthday reminds us about our history and how many people have gone before us to make the Navy what it is today,” said Religious Programs Specialist 1st Class Suchan Yi, from Enterprise, Ala. “It helps us remember where we came from and pave the way for future generations of Sailors.”
A cake-cutting ceremony was held after the ceremony to commemorate the event with Rear Adm. John Alexander, commander, Battle Force 7th Fleet, Fenton, and the oldest and youngest Sailor aboard the ship.
“Celebrating my first Navy birthday while at-sea is very fitting,” said Aviation Ordnanceman Airman Jennifer Dabdub, the ship’s youngest Sailor. “These traditions will never go away, and I believe we celebrate the birthday to remember and recognize the efforts of past generations of Sailors and to remind us what we need to strive for in the future.”
In 1972, the 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.
“I extend my official happy 239th birthday to the U.S. Navy,” said Fenton. “I can’t think of a better place to celebrate than aboard George Washington, engaged in operations at sea with the Navy’s finest Sailors.”