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16 for 2016: Dates from History for the Year Ahead

By Paul Taylor, Naval History and Heritage Command, Communication and Outreach Division

As the rest of the nation looks back at the year 2015, those of us in the history business are looking ahead to 2016 and the opportunities it presents for us to honor and remember momentous events from our Navy’s history. Here are 16 important anniversaries for 2016.  What dates from Naval History will you celebrate in 2016?

25th Anniversary — On Jan. 16, 1991, at 7 p.m. Eastern, President George H. W. Bush announced to the country that the liberation of Kuwait had begun. The offensive action against Iraq, codenamed Operation Desert Storm is carried out under provisions of twelve U.N. Security Council resolutions and resolutions of both houses of the U.S. Congress. Combat Operations last through the end of February. Forward deployed naval forces provided protection for early introduction of land-based ground and air assets, and may well have deterred further aggression by Iraq. Maritime superiority and unchallenged control of the sea enabled the safe and timely delivery of equipment, supplies and spare parts necessary to support the allied campaign. Naval aviation complemented allied air operations, added flexibility to the air campaign and deterred reintroduction of Iraqi aircraft from Iran into the conflict while Tomahawk cruise missiles took out heavily defended targets in Iraq and significantly degraded enemy air defenses.

Read more online at The U.S. Navy in Desert Shield/Storm.


75th Anniversary — On March 11, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Lend-Lease Act. The act changes the “cash and carry” provisions of the Neutrality Act of 1939 to permit delivery of war materials to the Allied Powers on credit or lease.

Read more online at Lend Lease Act.

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50th Anniversary — On April 10, 1966, the River Patrol Force commences operations during the Vietnam War. River patrol boats (PBRs) operate on inland waters of South Vietnam including the Mekong Delta stopping and searching sampans for contraband. By June, 80 PBRs were in service and during Operation Game Warden, the PBRs would average 80 firefights per month during 1966-68.

Read more online in the NHHC online book War in the Shallows: U.S. Navy Coastal and Riverine Warfare in Vietnam, 1965–1968, by John Darrell Sherwood, Ph.D.


70th Anniversary — On April 24, 1946, the Navy’s flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels is established. Then-Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Chester Nimitz, had a vision to create a flight demonstration team in order to raise the public’s interest in naval aviation and boost Navy morale. Today, the mission of the “Blues” is to showcase the pride and professionalism of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps by inspiring a culture of excellence and service to country through flight demonstrations and community outreach.

Read more at Historical Aircraft of the Blue Angels.


100th Anniversary — On May 6, 1916, the first ship-to-shore radio telephone voice conversation is held. Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels in Washington, D.C. speaks wirelessly with Capt. Lloyd Chandler on board USS New Hampshire (BB 25) at sea off the Virginia Capes.

Read more online at the Navy Live Blog in the post Communications Innovation – Looking Back As We Look Ahead by former Naval Computer and Telecommunications Area Master Station Atlantic (NCTAMS LANT) Commanding Officer Capt. Kelly A. Aeschbach

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 200th Anniversary — In June 1816, USS Fulton is commissioned. Launched on Oct. 29, 1814, at New York City, Fulton is the first steam-powered U.S. Navy warship. In 1817, she carries President James Monroe on a day cruise in New York Harbor. For most of her career, she is either laid up or, after 1825, employed as a floating barracks. Fulton is destroyed by a gunpowder explosion June 4, 1829.

Read more online at Fulton 1 (Catamaran Steam Frigate)


100th Anniversary — On July 12, 1916, an AB 3 flying boat, piloted by Lt. Godfrey de Chevalier, is catapulted from USS North Carolina (ACR 12) while underway in Pensacola Bay, Fla. The launch completes calibration of the first catapult designed for shipboard use. As a result, USS North Carolina becomes the first ship of the US Navy equipped to carry and operate aircraft.

Read more online at NHHC’s blog, the Sextant, in the post U.S. Navy Catapult Anniversary Highlights Strides in Carrier Aviation from the Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment Program Office (PMA-251)

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150th Anniversary — On July 25, 1866, David G. Farragut is commissioned the first admiral in the US Navy, by a Congressional Act. Farragut is born on July 5, 1801 near Knoxville, Tenn.  Known for the quote, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead” during the Battle of Mobile Bay in 1864, he is appointed a midshipman in 1810 and becomes the first rear admiral in July 1862. He is appointed vice admiral by President Abraham Lincoln on Dec. 21, 1864. Farragut dies on Aug. 14, 1870 after 59 years of service. In honor of Adm. Farragut, the US Navy names four ships in his honor.

Read more online about the rank at Admiral and check out a post on NHHC’s blog, The Sextant, about one of the admiral’s legendary exploits at Farragut’s Fleet Takes New Orleans after Dash Upriver

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75th Anniversary — On Sept. 27, 1941, SS Patrick Henry, the first U.S. Liberty ship, is launched by President Franklin D. Roosevelt at Baltimore, Md. More than 2,700 of the ships were built using a simple design at the cost of around $2 million a ship. Tagged the “ugly ducklings” by FDR himself, the Liberty ships, and their later sister fleet, Victory ships, would carry “lend-lease” supplies and war armament to allied countries before and after the war. Patrick Henry survives World War II, but is scrapped in 1960.

Read more online on NHHC’s blog, The Sextant, in the post Sealift Capability: WWII Liberty Ships to Today’s State-of-the-Art by Jeff Connolly, Sealift Director, Military Sealift Command. 

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15th Anniversary – On October 7, 2001, after the Sept. 11, 2001 al Qaeda terrorist attacks, Operation Enduring Freedom begins with Tomahawk and carrier air strikes on targets in Afghanistan. Later at sea, Navy amphibious forces establish a 750 mile supply line through Pakistan to Marines in Afghanistan.

Read more online at Navy Irregular Warfare and Counterterrorism Operations

Enduring Freedom

75th Anniversary — On Oct. 20, 1941, USS Hornet (CV 8) is commissioned. During World War II, she participates in the Doolittle Raid on Japan, the Battle of Midway, and the Solomon Campaign. On Oct. 26, 1942, at the Battle of Santa Cruz Islands, Hornet is severely damaged by the Japanese enemy and abandoned. Though U.S. destroyers attempt to scuttle her, Hornet remained afloat and was sunk by Japanese destroyers early the next morning.

Read more online at USS Hornet (CV 8).

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50th Anniversary — On Oct. 31, 1966, while serving as boat captain and patrol officer on board River Patrol Boat (PBR) 105 in Vietnam, Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class James E. Williams and his crew are taken under fire, facing a superior number of enemy vessels. Williams leads his men to sink 65 enemy craft and inflict numerous casualties among the enemy. He is awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions. USS James E. Williams (DDG 95) is named in his honor.

Read more online at Biography: James E. Williams and check out his Medal of Honor citation here.

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50th Anniversary — On Nov. 11, 1966, Gemini 12, the final of the project’s 10 manned flights, launches with former aviator Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Commander James A. Lovell, Jr., USN, as the Command Pilot.   The mission lasted three days, 22 hours, and 34 minutes and included 59 orbits at an altitude of 162.7 nautical miles. The crew was recovered by a helicopter from squadron HS-11 aboard USS Wasp (CVS-18).

Read more online at Gemini 12

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75th Anniversary — On Dec. 7, 1941, in one of the defining moments in U.S. history, the Japanese attack the U.S. Pacific Fleet, and nearby military airfields and installations, based at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and removed the U.S. Navy’s battleship force as a possible threat to the Japanese Empire’s southward expansion. American shock and anger unites a divided nation and translates into a wholehearted commitment to victory in WWII.

Read more online at The Pearl Harbor Attack.

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75th Anniversary — On Dec. 13, 1941, Cmdr. William A. Sullivan is designated the first Supervisor of Salvage (SUPSALV) with an office in New York City. Today, SUPSALV reports to the Commander, Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) and is located at NAVSEA HQ at the Washington Navy Yard. SUPSALV is responsible for all aspects of ocean engineering, including salvage, in-water ship repair, contracting, towing, diving safety, and equipment maintenance and procurement.

Read more online on the SUPSALV Website.

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75th Anniversary — On Dec. 31, 1941, Adm. Chester W. Nimitz assumes command of U.S. Pacific Fleet. where he served throughout the war. On 19 December 1944, he was advanced to the newly created rank of Fleet Admiral, and on 2 September 1945, was the United States signatory to the surrender terms aboard the battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.

Read more online on NHHC’s blog, The Sextant, in the post Dear Diary: Insights on the Burden of Leadership from the Man Who Won the War in the Pacific featuring hand-written letters from Nimitz himself as he makes his way to Hawaii to assume command.

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