On October 13, 1775 at the beginning of the American Revolution, the Continental Congress established the Navy by authorizing the outfit, manning, and dispatching of two armed vessels in search of munitions ships supplying the British Army in America. At the same time, a Naval Committee was created to oversee the operation.
By the end of the war the Navy had acquired nearly 50 ships--keeping up to 20 active at a time. But when the war ended, congress sold them off and discharged the officers. However, with the ratification of the constitution in 1789, came the order to provide and maintain a Navy, so Congress once again ordered the construction and manning of six frigates. The Department of the Navy (as we now know it) was established later, on April 30, 1798.
According to the Naval History & Heritage website, In 1972 CNO Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt authorized recognition of October 13th as the Navy's official birthday. Since then, each CNO has encouraged a Navy-wide celebration on this day "to enhance a greater appreciation of Navy heritage, and to provide a positive influence toward pride and professionalism in the naval service." (In contrast to Navy Day, the Navy Birthday is intended as a day of celebration for active forces, reserves, retirees, and dependents, where Navy day--October 27th--is intended to be a nation-wide recognition of our Navy.)
Over the years many of our clocks have served with the US Navy and continue to serve many Naval vessels today. Please join us in celebrating this occasion by thanking a Naval Officer for his or her commitment to our nation.