Excerpted from the book
The Navy

The Fleet Today

USS John F. Kennedy

The Navy is on station, at sea, and ready for whatever the nation may call on it
to do. USS
John F. Kennedy (CV 67) and her battle group, shown here, are
ready to answer the question asked by America's national leaders in every foreign crisis,
"Where are the carriers?"

Submarines maintain a stealthy watch while ready to fight from under the sea or to launch missiles far ashore. Invisible and invulnerable, submarines operate independently and with battle groups, dominating the ocean in which they operate. This is the diving party of USS Seawolf (SSN 21).
At the dawn of the twenty-first century the United States Navy is second to none in size, quality, readiness, and in the professionalism of its sailors and officers. It trains in, visits, and patrols all the oceans and seas of the world. This ability to maintain a capable worldwide naval presence is what separates the United States Navy from all other navies of the world and is its major contribution to world peace. History has proven that there is no substitute for being on station, ready to reassure friends, deter potential troublemakers, or be immediately available with a credible force when the nation or an ally calls.

Should there be a call, the forward-deployed Navy can at a moment's notice dominate a section of the sea--above, on, and below--and it can project naval power, guns, missiles, aircraft, and Marines or other ground forces over the land. It can supplement the efforts of other services and allies without extraordinary support from overseas bases and depots. It can provide humanitarian relief and evacuate those in peril around the world. All of this the Navy does with the ships, aircraft, submarines, weapons, and organizations described in the chapters to follow, but none of it could happen without the dedicated people, many with specialized skills, who operate, maintain, and build this formidable and ready force.

In spite of much mechanization, some tasks remain to be performed by "Norwegian steam"--muscle. Transferring people between ships by high line is one of those tasks where people are trusted over machinery. Passengers in the transfer rig are eager to complete the trip as quickly as possible and so appreciate the enthusiasm demonstrated here.
It is the people of the Navy at sea, and those who back them up ashore--uniformed, active and reserve, navy civilian and family alike--who make it all go. These selfless citizens follow in the great naval traditions and contribute daily to the traditions of tomorrow as they perform their duties in exemplary fashion, often going far beyond what is expected. By and large these men and women are young; the average age of the sailors in an aircraft carrier, for example, is between nineteen and twenty. They are among the best their generation has to offer, and they make all generations proud by what they do.

This youth brings to the Navy an innovative spirit, which, while capitalizing on tradition, continually discovers and develops new ideas for getting the job done better. Today, the Navy has ships, aircraft, and weapons designed for an earlier era that have been evolved into systems that are wonderfully capable today. It is the Navy's readiness to adopt new ideas and technology that keeps it at the forefront of military preparedness. The Navy has moved into the information age with vigor and leads all the services with such concepts as network-centric warfare, cooperative engagement, and the use of electronic warfare. At the same time, the Navy pioneers the development and use of space, missiles, precision weapons of all kinds, advanced undersea technologies, and post-modern logistics support.

Today, the emphasis in the Navy is forward from the sea, the ability to project American presence, power, and support from ships afloat in international waters, while concurrently working arm-in-arm with the other American armed services and our allies. As it does so, the Navy continues to practice and prepare for the more traditional Navy missions at sea. All of this put together is an essential ingredient for American success in foreign affairs, economics, and the general welfare of people around the world, and for Americans in particular.

As the Navy moves into the twenty-first century there will be ever-increasing numbers of advances in technology, many affecting the conduct of naval operations at sea. Yet, the constants will remain. Tradition will be a guide, naval presence will be the hallmark, and it will be the young people of America who keep our nation strong on, over, and under the ocean waters.

Return to The Navy,
or to the HLLA Reference Library.

© 2000 Hugh Lauter Levin Associates. All rights reserved.
Photos courtesy of the U.S. Navy.