By K. Cecilia Sequeira, Naval History and Heritage Command, Communication and Outreach Division
Florida was the 27th state to join the Union in 1845- just 70 years after the U.S. Navy was established. It has been rich in naval history since its inception. At least 32 U.S. Navy ships have been named after the state of Florida, its cities, places and people. The sixth, and most recent ship to bear the namesake is a cruise missile submarine operating out of Kings Bay, Georgia. USS Florida (SSGN 729) also bears the distinction of receiving the second group of female enlisted sailors ever to serve aboard a submarine.
Fort Pierce, Florida is home to the National Navy UDT- SEAL Museum and holds a special place in the history of special warfare operators. Underwater Demolitions Teams (UDT) were established during World War II to gather intelligence and remove ordnance from enemy waters. Fort Pierce was the first training site for these Navy “frogmen,” the predecessors to modern day Navy SEALs.
Florida is also home to eight Navy installations and the proud hometown of heroes like Captain Scott Speicher, a graduate of Florida State University who was killed in action during a combat mission in Operation Desert Storm. Another distinguished naval officer, and Florida native, retired Captain John W. Young, was highly decorated in the Navy before he went on to become the longest serving U.S. astronaut. Check out the infographic for more on Florida’s U.S. Navy history.