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The Naval History of Kentucky

By Naval History and Heritage Command Communications and Outreach Division

Even states without any coastline have strong ties to the U.S. Navy. For example, look at the naval history and heritage of Kentucky, as seen in the life of Lt. jg. Richard Caswell Saufley.

Saufley was born on Sept. 1, 1884, in Stanford, KY, and graduated from the Naval Academy in 1908. He was designated Naval Aviator No. 14. Saufley set numerous records for altitude and endurance in a hydro-airplane before dying in a crash on June 9, 1916, attempting to beat his own record.

Other famous Kentuckians include Navy Cross recipient, Cmdr. Dudley W. Morton. Born in Owensboro, KY, Morton was commander of the submarine USS Wahoo (SS 238) during WWII and was responsible for sinking 19 ships, totaling 55,000 tons before it sank off the coast of Japan in 1943.

More than 30 ships have been named for Kentucky, its cities, places, and people. Two ships have been named after the state, including one battleship (BB 6) and an Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine (SSBN 737). Perhaps one of the most famous residents of “The Bluegrass” state was the namesake for USS Daniel Boone (SSBN 629).

Kentucky is also home to several naval installations. Naval Ordnance Station Louisville was commissioned in 1941 to design and manufacture ordnance for the U.S. Navy, continuing to do so throughout the Cold War. Additionally, Navy Operational Support Center Louisville provides administrative and training support for Navy Reserve personnel.

Check out our infographic for more information on the Sailors, ships, and places in Kentucky with ties to naval history and heritage!