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"Join the Navy and See the World!" was a familiar recruiting poster that appeared on the streets in many cities and towns. Some of the other services had similar posters encouraging young men to enlist and serve their country. Doubtless many Americans imagined themselves in uniforms serving in some capacity on the high seas or at a fascinating post overseas.

Roger Baxter was such a dreamer. From the time he was ten he knew that he wanted to join the navy, become a sailor, and go to sea. He read everything he could find about the navy and sailing. He even persuaded his father to drive him to the city where the navy had docked a large cruiser and opened it to the public for tours.

Imagine his disappointment when he finished high school and sought to enlist in his favorite service, only to be turned down!

"I'm terribly sorry, son," the examining physician said. "You have a perforated ear drum, it's not life threatening but this condition is one for which we must reject you."

"But couldn't I serve somewhere in the office?" Roger asked. "It wouldn't matter where." His eyes were moist with disappointment.

"No, not as a member of the service," the doctor replied. "Basic training might not be good for you. However, you can apply for a civilian job through the federal government civil service system and possibly find employment in an office of one of the services when there is an opening for your skill."

The chances are pretty good you won't be turned down and that you can look forward to a satisfying and enjoyable tour of duty somewhere in the vast navy establishment. The navy is increasingly in the news as its ships patrol off troubled foreign shores where they are ready to participate in some type of action; protect and evacuate American citizens who must leave a dangerous foreign country; or join in a joint military exercise.


No one knows when the first navy, as such, made its appearance. It is thought that as tribes and then nations began trading, people used their primitive boats not only for fishing and transporting goods, but also for carrying them into battle. The existence of the so-called rowing galleys as early as 2000 B.C. or even earlier is confirmed by carvings found in Egyptian tombs and references in the Homeric epics. Such ships had a displacement of perhaps twenty tons and held as many as fifty or more rowers. Although improvements were made in the design and construction of these craft, they did not change materially for some 2,500 years. They were used by all of the nations bordering on the Mediterranean as well as by the Vikings to the north. The last important sea battle fought between rowing galleys was the climax of a long naval duel between the Spaniards and Turks. It took place on October 7, 1571, off Lepanto. By this time most of these ships measured some 140 feet in length, displaced about 170 tons, and were manned by crews of over 200 men, of whom 150 were rowers.

Although galleys were used as late as Napoleon's time, most nations with seacoasts had long begun to develop warships using sails. As interest in discovery grew during the fifteenth century, explorers found that the sailing ships enabled them to make longer and faster voyages. In the following century the English decided to devote an entire deck of a sailing ship to small cannon and later they installed guns on three decks, making them formidable battleships. Naval architecture and battle tactics remained practically unchanged until after 1800 when three developments revolutionized warfare at sea:
  1. The recently perfected steam engine was used first to drive a paddle wheel and later a screw propeller.
  2. Iron and steel were substituted for wood, making it possible to build larger and stronger ships.
  3. The invention of the explosive shell made it possible to sink a ship if it was struck at waterline or below. These shells were later followed by mines, torpedoes, bombs, and finally guided missiles.
Let us turn now to the American navy, which had its beginning near the end of the era of sailing ships.


The Continental Navy was established in 1775 to serve during the Revolutionary War, but after the Peace of Paris in 1783, the ships were sold. It was not until 1794 that Congress voted to build six frigates to fight the Barbary pirates. In 1797 the United States Navy was launched. The following year the office of Secretary of the Navy was created. The role which the Navy played in the War of 1812 enabled it to establish itself as an important part of the nation's defense forces.

Meanwhile the new navy had acquired its first steam-driven warship, the U.S.N. Fulton. By the end of the Civil War it had become the largest and most powerful force in the world. When the Spanish-American War erupted, the navy easily wiped out the ten Spanish battleships which opposed it.

This victory occurred about ten years after Alfred Thayer Mahan had published two books on the influence of sea power. He was a naval officer who had served in the Civil War and later lectured on naval history and strategy at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. Mahan pointed out that success in international politics and economics depended on naval power. This was so because the nation that controlled the seas became the dominant country in time of war and peace. As a result many countries built up their sea-power. President Theodore Roosevelt and other national leaders became convinced that a strong navy was essential. Following up on the recent victorious war with Spain, in 1907 the president sent four destroyers and sixteen battleships on a fourteen-month world cruise, the purpose of which was to impress other nations with America's sea-power. The ships were painted white to add to the impressiveness of the occasion and were referred to as "The Great White Fleet."

Mighty battleships dominated the seas until after World War I. However, wartime operations of the airplane caused a profound change in the navy during the 1920s. Back in 1910 Eugene Ely had made the first flight from a ship, the cruiser Birmingham, and the following year the navy had purchased its first airplane. In 1914 the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida, was established and the original aircraft carrier, Langley, set sail in 1922. Thereafter, the aircraft carrier was to take the place of the warship with its mighty guns, and the carrier's superiority was soon to be proven. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the navy had several huge flattops, but fortunately none were lost in that initial attack.

Seven months later, following one American defeat after another, the Battle of Midway was fought from June 3 to 6, proving one of the most decisive engagements of World War II. In this conflict American planes sank four Japanese aircraft carriers and crippled the enemy's navy. They ended the invasion threat. The enemy began its long retreat toward its homeland. Oddly enough, although two large naval fleets were pitted against each other, no ships engaged in battle; fighter planes and bombers from aircraft carriers did all the fighting.

Since the end of World War II, the navy has undergone tremendous change. Its submarines have become among the nation's most important defensive carriers of weapons. Furthermore, the advent of hydrogen bombs, development of nuclear power and the vulnerability of ships to attack by aircraft or guided missiles have transformed the navy into one of the most exciting of the armed services.


The primary mission of the navy is to protect the United States, as directed by the president or the secretary of defense, by the effective prosecution of war at sea, including, with its Marine Corps component, to seize or defend advanced naval bases; to support, as required, the forces of all military departments of the United States; and to maintain freedom of the seas.

During a recent year the navy had some 59,000 officers and over 372,000 enlisted men and women. The occupational fields open to officers and enlisted personnel are discussed later in the appendices. Meanwhile, let's take a look at the navy itself.

Naval Operating Forces

The operating forces of the navy include the Atlantic Fleet, the Pacific Fleet, the Naval Forces, Europe, the Marine Corps Forces, and the Military Sealift Command. The Atlantic and Pacific fleets consist of ships, submarines, and aircraft that operate throughout the territories under their jurisdictions.

In addition to the major fleet commands, there is a command structure that supports the operating forces. It provides personnel, weapons, equipment, materials, supplies, maintenance, and all necessary supporting services.

Over the years the navy has developed a number of specialized ships, each for a specific purpose. Thus there are guided missile cruisers that escort the huge aircraft carriers. There are destroyers defending battleships and other warships. There are frigates (smaller than cruisers and larger than destroyers) that escort other warships and patrol coastlines. In addition, there are submarines that carry guided missiles, operate against surface ships, other submarines, and shore positions, as well as command ships, which are floating administrative headquarters.

In addition, there are various auxiliary ships. The fleet support craft maintains and tows other ships. Replenishment ships bring fuel, food, ammunition, and spare parts to the fleet. The sealift ships carry cargo from port to port. Experimental research ships aid in developing and testing ships, weapons, and equipment. Surveying ships map coastlines and the ocean floor.

Not to be overlooked is the naval fleet of aircraft. There are cargo, observation, patrol, antisubmarine, and training planes, as well as helicopters. Finally, there are the navy's ordnance weapons. These are bombs, guns, mines, torpedoes, missiles. Its 8-inch cannon hurl shells as far as seventeen miles. Most powerful and awesome of all weapons is the missile in the Trident submarine, which has a range of 4,000 miles and enough explosive power to level a huge city.

This is our navy. Now to the most interesting part of all-where you might fit into the picture.


On the Sea

Skimming the calm, clear seas or plowing through thundering waves, the navy's surface ships are ready for action. They're powerful destroyers, frigates, and big gun battleships that sail with the huge aircraft carriers. These ships offer hundreds of exciting jobs in a variety of technical fields.

The navy has dozens of sizes and types of surface ships. Each has a specific mission that could take you anywhere in the world. You'll become an expert seaman and a worldwide traveler in the navy, and you'll get paid for the training and adventure too. It's an adventure experienced only in the navy.

Down Below

Under the ocean's surface, a navy submarine glides through the quiet darkness. All eyes in the control room are on the sonar visual display, watching for approaching ships. It's a type of experience you'll find only in the navy.

As a submariner, you'll serve aboard a ship as modern and complex as any in the navy. The purity of the air you breathe when submerged is scientifically controlled, and temperature and humidity are adjusted for comfort. It's a unique lifestyle that offers extra pay if you qualify to be part of it.

Above the Ocean

Soaring through the clouds high above the earth's surface, a navy jet flashes past faster than the speed of sound. Maintaining the sophisticated machinery that keeps that navy jet in the air is a satisfying and responsible job-a job for which you may qualify. It's a job that calls for expert training in a highly technical field. The skill is taught in the navy.

You'll thrill to the excitement as a navy plane catapults skyward from the deck of an aircraft carrier at sea-then watch with pride when it's skillfully landed back aboard ship. You'll be one of the 6,000 crew members living aboard a navy aircraft carrier-one of the world's largest ships. It's all part of the navy adventure.

On Land

Shore duty can be an adventure too, taking you from the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., to exciting locations throughout the world. Your assignments could also be at naval facilities, air stations, technical schools, or command headquarters anywhere in the United States or overseas.

The skills and discipline learned in the navy are an asset wherever you go. Navy career fields such as construction, communications, and administration are important in the civilian workforce, too.

The dedicated and highly qualified people ashore help keep the navy's ships at sea. It's teamwork at its best. It all adds up to the navy adventure.


All right! So you want to enlist but you must be between seventeen and thirty-four years of age and enlistments are for four, five, or six years, depending on which program you qualify for and choose. There are over eighty job skills open to men and women and you probably would receive job training (after finishing basic training) at one of the many navy schools. The more education you have, the better your job and pay, so, be sure to at least finish high school. That all-important diploma is a requirement for entering many of the navy's technical programs. Single and married men and women may join the navy, but single parents with child custody may not.

You may enlist and delay reporting for active duty for up to twelve months depending on the program you have selected. There is also a program that enables friends to take their recruit training together and/or be assigned together to their first duty station.

You've been accepted. Congratulations! You are a navy enlistee! Now for your basic training.


You're a sailor-you've been accepted by the navy. Now you arrive at a naval training center for your boot camp training. Officially, it has the more dignified title of Recruit Training Command or RTC. (Boot camp got its name from the fact that years ago the recruits wore leggings that looked like boots.) In the navy, men and women train together, usually at the center nearest to their homes.

Receipt Day is aptly named as the day of your arrival. It is the day you receive your introductory and processing instructions. You join other enlistees to form a company of about eighty members. You will stay with your new companions throughout boot camp. For the next day or two you will be busy filling out forms, obtaining clothing, and being indoctrinated. Each company has training instructors, called company commanders or CCs. They will be with you throughout your RTC and instruct you in everything you need to know about navy protocol, day-to-day living, and navy rules and regulations.

Ten formal training sessions are given each day. They embrace three subjects: administration and processing, military and naval training, and technical training. Some of the numerous subjects that you must master include accident prevention, basic seamanship, first aid, inspections, officer recognition, personal hygiene, security, security at sea, and time management.

In addition, you will find that great emphasis is placed on physical fitness, with plenty of calisthenics. By the time you graduate you will be running two miles at a time. Before you finish boot camp you must pass certain physical fitness tests. Furthermore, it is natural for the navy to insist on proficiency in water skills. You will be expected to demonstrate that you can enter water feet-first from a height of five feet and tread water or float for five minutes. You will swim fifty yards in the pool in five minutes, using any stroke, but keeping your head above the water. After instruction, you will have to show that you can use clothing or other buoyant objects in order to stay afloat.

In a typical RTC training day, you start at 5:30 A.M. After a hearty breakfast, you report for a four-hour training period which is followed by an hour and a half off for lunch. Another four-hour session is scheduled for the afternoon. After dinner the evening is spent taking care of personal matters, clothing, and equipment; cleaning the barracks; studying; and perhaps writing letters.

During RTC training you are granted no liberty and are permitted no visitors. Once graduation day arrives, however, your parents and friends are welcome to attend the ceremonies and dine with you in the dining room. During the graduation ceremony when you pass in review, you will receive your set of orders telling you where to report for your permanent base or your course of technical training. Now you will be granted leave for a few days, which you may take before you must arrive at your first duty station.

Upon completion of basic training, seamen go to Class "A" schools, or are ordered to the fleet for duty and on-the-job training via a four-week apprenticeship course that enhances basic technical skills learned in recruit training. Some recruits are promoted meritoriously to E-2 upon completion of basic training. See the Appendices for a list of typical career fields together with duties and responsibilities, qualifications, and examples of civilian jobs.


To seaman apprentice (E-2) nine months active duty with commander's approval.

To seaman (E-3) nine months time in grade, demonstrated military and professional qualifications, and commander's approval.

To petty officer 3rd class (E-4) and above (to E-9)-based on navy-wide vacancies within each career field. Must also meet certain minimum time in grade requirements (which vary from six months to three years depending on the pay grade), be recommended for advancement by commander, complete education and training requirements, and compete on navy-wide examinations.

Advancement to the more senior pay grades involves a selection board to determine who are best qualified.
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