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Why Naval History Matters to Virginia

By Cecilia Sequeira, Naval History and Heritage Command Communication and Outreach Division

In 1788, only 13 years after the establishment of the U.S. Navy, Virginia ratified the constitution, and became the 10th state to enter the Union. The state’s heritage includes hosting the first North American-English colony, which likely gave rise to the popular nickname, “Old Dominion.”

Virginia’s naval lineage includes several landmark events including the 1862 Battle of Hampton Roads– a Civil War standoff between ironclads USS Monitor and CSS Virginia.  The resulting stalemate between the metal-armored warships gave rise to a new standard, revolutionized naval warfare, and rendered wooden-hulled ships obsolete.

Virginia is also the birthplace of great leadership, including eight U.S. presidents and many prominent statesmen. Three U.S. Navy ships were named after Virginia native and first U.S. president, George Washington.  An equal number of Navy ships were named after the nation’s first Secretary of State, and author of the Declaration of Independence, Virginia native, President Thomas Jefferson.  The U.S. Navy has named at least 30 ships after Virginia’s cities, places and people.  It is also home to six prominent Navy installations including Norfolk Naval Shipyard, the oldest and largest shipyard in the U.S., and Joint Expeditionary Base (JEB) Little Creek-Fort Story, also known as “The Pearl by the Bay and The Emerald on The Ocean.”

Check out the infographic for more on Virginia’s historical ties to the U.S. Navy, or dive deeper at the Hampton Roads Naval Museum.