Happy Birthday, United States Navy
October 13, 1775

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230th Birthday

From the Honorable Gordon R. England
Secretary of the Navy
On the occasion of the 230th Birthday

Birthdays are traditionally milestones in time that call for
both reflection on achievements past and thoughts on changes
ahead. The Navy's birthday is no different.

On the occasion of this 230th milestone, we can all take enormous
pride in a naval history rich in tradition and unparalleled in
success. Today, the United States Navy stands alone, unmatched
in the world.

John Paul Jones set the tone of our service when he stated, "I
wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail
fast; for I intend to go in harm's way." For more than two
centuries, this legacy has endured, along with our core values
of honor, courage, and commitment. Brave Sailors and Marines
have repeatedly fought to guarantee the security and prosperity
of our great Nation and to defend freedom and democracy around
the globe.

Freedom and liberty are not birthrights; rather, they need to be
guarded, defended and protected. For 230 years, magnificent men
and women have stepped forward to preserve this gift of freedom
and liberty for us. Now, it's our responsibility to pass on
this gift to future generations.

Today, our Navy again sails in harm's way fighting global
terrorism - a profound threat to peace, stability, and our way
of life. We are again a Nation at war, and these are historic

Like the men and women who served during World War II, this
generation will also earn the respect and admiration of
generations yet unborn for answering the call and defeating the
global scourge of terrorism. You and your families are making
many sacrifices to preserve our way of life, and it is deeply
appreciated by the American people. In this global war on
terror, your service is vitally important and highly valued.

For me, it's an honor and privilege to serve with the
professional men and women who wear the Navy uniform. I also
thank all the civilians in our Navy family for their hard work
and devotion. Quite simply, without our civilians behind the
lines, Sailors and Marines could never deploy to the front
lines. In this fight, we truly are One Team!

Happy 230th birthday to the greatest Navy the world has ever
seen. God bless each of you and your families, and may God
continue to bless America.


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Captains and Commanders

Esek Hopkins, Commander in Chief, 22 Dec. 1775
1. James Nicholson, 6 June 1776
2. John Manley, 17 Apri.1776
3. Hector McNeill, 15 June 1776
4. Dudley Saltonstall, 22 Dec. 1775
5. Nicholas Biddle, 22 Dec. 1775
6. Thomas Thompson, 6 June 1776
7. John Barry, 6 June 1776
8. Thomas Read, 6 June 1776
9. Thomas Grinnell, 15 June 1776
10. Charles Alexander, 18 Apr. 1776
11. Lambert Wickes
12. Abraham Whipple, 22 Dec.1775
13. John Burrows Hopkins, 22 Dec.1775
14. John Hodge, 22 Aug.1776
15. William Hallock, 18 Apr.1776 16. Hoysted Hacker
17. Isaiah Robinson
18. John Paul Jones
19. James Josiah
20. Elisha Hinman, 13 Aug. 1776
21. Joseph Olney
22. James Robinson
23. John Young
24. Elisha Warner

John Nicholson, 19 Nov. 1776
Samuel Nicholson, 10 Dec. 1776
Henry Johnson, 5 Feb. 1777
John Peck Rathburne, 15 Feb. 1777
Gustavus Conyngham, 1 Mar.1777
Samuel Tucker, 15 Mar.1777
Daniel Waters, 17 Mar.1777
John Green, 11 Feb. 1778
William Burke, 1 May 1778
Pierre Landais, 18 June 1778
Seth Harding, 23 Sept. 1778
Silas Talbot, 17 Sept. 1779
John Ayres
Peter Brewster
Samuel Chew
Benjamin Dunn
John Hazard
William Pickles
Thomas Simpson
John Skinner
William Stone
Note: The names of captains which are numbered were those appointed 10 Oct. 1776 in order of rank. Many held earlier commissions which are noted.


Vessels of the Continental Navy

Name Guns Type How acquired Disposition
Alfred 24 Ship Purchased 1775 Captured 9 March 1778 by HMS Ariadne and Ceres
Columbus 20 Ship Purchased 1775 Burned 27 March 1778 after being chased on shore by a British squadron
Andrew Doria 14 Brig Purchased 1775 Burned to prevent capture, 21 November 1777
Cabot 14 Brig Purchased 1775 Captured by HMS Milford in 1777
Providence 12 Sloop Purchased 1775 Destroyed 1779
Hornet 10 Sloop Purchased 1775 Destroyed 1777
Wasp 8 Schooner Purchased 1775 Destroyed 1777
Fly 8 Schooner Purchased 1775 Destroyed 1777
Lexington 16 Brig Purchased 1776 Captured by British cutter Alert1777
Reprisal 16 Brig Purchased 1776 Lost at sea 1777
Hampden 14 Brig Purchased 1776 Sold 1777
Independence 10 Sloop Purchased 1776 Wrecked 1778
Sachem 10 Sloop Purchased 1776 Destroyed 1777
Mosquito 4 Sloop Puchased 1776 Destroyed 1777
Raleigh 32 Frigate Launched 1776 Captured 1778
Hancock 32 Frigate Launched 1776 Captured 1777
Warren 32 Frigate Launched 1776 Destroyed 1779
Washington 32 Frigate Launched 1776 Destroyed 1777
Randolph 32 Frigate Launched 1776 Lost in action 1778
Providence 28 Frigate Launched 1776 Captured 1780
Trumbull 28 Frigate Launched 1776 Captured 1781
Congress 28 Frigate Lauched 1776 Destroyed 1777
Virginia 28 Frigate Launched 1776 Captured 1778
Effingham 28 Frigate Launched 1776 Destroyed 1777
Boston 24 Frigate Launched 1776 Captured 1780
Montgomery 24 Frigate Launched 1776 Destroyed 1777
Delaware 24 Frigate Launched 1776 Destroyed 1777
Ranger 18 Ship Launched 1777 Captured 1780
Resistance 10 Brigantine Launched 1777 Captured 1778
Surprise Sloop Purchases 1777 Unknown
Racehorse 12 Sloop Captured 1776 Destroyed
Repulse 8 Xebec Pennsylvania State Navy gunboat lent to Continental Navy 1777 Destroyed 1777
Champion 8 Xebec Pennsylvania State Navy gunboat lent to Continental Navy 1777 Destroyed 1777
L'Indien 40 Frigate Built in Holland 1777 Sold to France; later acquiredby South Carolina Navy as South Carolina
Deane (later Hague) 32 Frigate Purchased 1777 Sold 1783
Queen of France 28 Frigate Purchased 1777 Sunk 1780
Dolphin 10 Cutter Purchased 1777 Unknown
Surprise 10 Lugger Purchased 1777 Seized by France
Revenge 14 Cutter Purchased 1777 Sold 1779
Alliance 32 Frigate Launched 1778 Sold 1785
General Gates 18 Ship Purchased 1778 Sold 1779
Retaliation Brigantine Purchased 1778 Unknown
Pigot 8 Schooner Captured 1778 Unknown
Confederacy 32 Frigate Launched 1779 Captured 1781
Argo 12 Sloop Purchased 1779 Sold 1779
Diligent 12 Brig Captured 1779 Destroyed 1779
Bonhomme Richard 42 Ship Purchased 1779 Lost in action 1779
Pallas 32 Frigate Lent by France 1779 Returned to France
Cerf 18 Cutter Lent by France 1779 Returned to France
Vengeance 12 Brig Lent by France 1779 Returned to France
Serapis 44 Frigate Captured 1779 Sold 1779
Ariel 20 Ship Lent by France 1780 Returned to France 1781
Saratoga 18 Ship Launched 1780 Lost at sea 1781
America 74 Ship of the line Launched 1782 Given to France
General Washington 20 Ship Captured 1782 Sold 1784
Duc de Lauzun 20 Ship Purchased 1782 Sold 1783
Bourbon 36 Frigate Launched 1783 Sold 1783





Washington, D.C., May 5, 1913


1. On and after July 1, 1913, the present designations "starboard" and "port" governing movements of a ship's helm are hereby ordered discontinued in orders and directions to the steersman, and the terms "right" and "left," referring to movement of the ship's head, shall thereafter be used instead.

2. The orders as to rudder angle shall be given in such terms as "Ten degrees rudder; half-rudder; standard rudder; full rudder;" etc, so that a complete order would be "Right --- Half Rudder,: etc.

3. Commanders in chief and commanding officers acting independently may, in their discretion, institute the above changes at an earlier date.


Acting Secretary of the Navy




Washington, February 18, 1846

It having been represented to the Department, that confusion arises from the use of the words "Larboard" and "Starboard," in consequence of the similiarity of sound, the word "Port" is hereafter to be substituted for "Larboard."



General Order
No. 294

Navy Department
Washington, D.C., May 12, 1917.


1. Upon the receipt of this order steps will immediately be taken to make identification tags for all officers and enlisted men of the United States naval service. Make requisition on the supply officers, New York, for tags and necessary outfit for preparing same.

2. The following instructions will be followed:

The identification tag for officers and enlisted men of the Navy consists of an oval plate of monel metal, 1.25 by 1.50 inch, perforated at one end and suspended from the neck by a monel wire encased in a cotton sleeve.

The tag has on one side the etched finger print of the right index finger. On the other side are to be etched the individual's initials and surname, the month, day, and year of enlistment (expressed in numerals, e.g., 1.5.1916) and the month, day, and year of birth (similarly expressed). This side will also bear the letters U.S.N.; for officers - initials and surname, the rank held, and date of appointment.

The etching of the tag shall be done by such member or members of the Hospital Corps as the medical officer may designate.

The following articles are required:

1. The outfit for making a finger print on paper.
2. A supply of printer's ink thinned to the proper consistency for easy use with an ordinary steel pen. (Dilute with gasoline or turpentine).
3. Gilsonite or powdered asphaltum.
4. Nitric acid (1 part by volume), water (2 parts by volume), in glass dish.
5. Alcohol lamp with good flame or electric stove.
6. A device for holding the tag without touching the flat surfaces (not supplied but can be made by any carpenter's mate.)

The steps in the preparation of the etchings are as follows:

After collecting the various articles described above, take an ordinary "rolled" (see Manual for Medical Department - "Identification records and finger prints") finger print on paper to show that the finger is clean, not too heavily inked, etc., and will make a good print, and write down on paper the data for the other side - initials, surname and dates required. Make a "rolled" finger print (right index finger) on the metal tag in the usual manner. Holding the tag by the edge (by
improvised holder), turn it over and write on the other side with a clean steel pen (in printer's ink that has been thinned out with turpentine or gasoline) the initials and surname, the date of enlistment and of birth (using figures), and the letters U.S.N. on the left end of the oval.

While ink is still fresh on both surfaces sprinkle them with finely powdered asphaltum. Some of this will mix with the ink and stick to the two surfaces. The rest should be blown off. Now heat the tag slightly above the boiling point of water. Allow the tag to cool. Put it in the nitric-acid solution for one hour. Remove, wash in water, and dry.

Great care is to be exercised in the preparation of the tags so as to avoid useless expense for tags spoiled in the process.

The following cautions are to be noted:

Remove all excess of ink from the finger, leaving a smooth, uniform coating. Press the finger lightly against the metal tag, avoiding too great pressure, as this will smear the impression.

If the first impression with ink is not satisfactory, make it again on a fresh tag. Tags that have been soiled with printer's ink can be used again after thorough cleansing with gasoline. The cleansing must be thorough, as the least trace of ink left on the tag from a previous attempt will spoil the etching. (It is well to put aside the tags on which poor printing has been done and clean them up all at one time for use.)

In inscribing the name use a blunt pen and diluted printer's ink. The ink can be thinned with gasoline or turpentine. Turpentine is preferable, as it does not dry so quickly, and the next step must be carried out with both sides of the tag wet. Have the initials, surname, and dates written out on paper in advance so they can be quickly inscribed on the tag without having to delay by questioning the person for whom the tag is being prepared.

The ink should be just thin enough to write with. If it spreads on the metal it is too thin; if too thick it will not flow from the point of the pen.

Be careful not to smudge the finger print while writing name.

The next step is the application of the gilsonite or asphaltum. This should be fine enough to pass through a sieve having 100 meshes to the square inch. Sprinkle thickly on the two wet surfaces. Remove what does not mix with and stick to the ink by tapping and blowing.

The tag is now held with forceps over a flame or stove until the ink and asphaltum have melted together, forming sharp, glossy black lines.

If not enough heat is applied to completely melt the asphaltum, the action of the acid will be too powerful. Complete melting of the asphaltum is indicated by the lines becoming glossy. If too much heat is applied, the lines run together and are obliterated.

The etching solution consists of -

Concentrated nitric acid-------1 part by volume
Water-------------------------2 parts by volume

The solution may be placed in glass, china, or enameled iron ware (if there are no nicks or cracks). A number of tags can be etched at once, but do not pile them one on top of the other. The name side should be up and the finger-print side down while in the acid bath. This will favor deeper etching on the name side, which is desirable, as it will then not wear off so rapidly.

The etching process or acid bath should be watched and a tag lifted out from time to time to see how lively the action is. It can be moderated by adding water. Usually the process of etching requires one hour. The acid solution naturally weakens with use and should be renewed from time to time. If the corrosive action is slow in beginning, concentrated muriatic acid (HCl) may be added - 1 part to every 30 of the nitric solution.

The data desired are put on thus:
U.S.N.[*] Frank W.
4. 14. 16------------(First enlistment).
2. 21. 85------------(Date of birth).

[*Editor's Note: This text was placed at a 90 degree angle to the text.]

In the case of officers it will be necessary, when making the tags, to make also the usual finger prints on paper (as required for enlisted men) and to send them to Bureau of Navigation, Navy Department, Washington, D.C., for filing.

Enter on the blank, full name of officer, the rank held, and date of appointment.

Josephus Daniels,
Secretary of the Navy.


Source: General Orders of Navy Department, Series of 1913. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1918.

15 December 1998


Information from:

Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships
WASHINGTON DC 20374-5060