October 27 is Navy Day in the United States, celebrating the world’s largest fleet, with 317,054 active duty personnel, 109,671 reserves, and 285 ships and more than 3,700 aircraft in active service.
It is the force that gives America the ability to project military power around the world. Although the Navy has been out of the spotlight after a couple of decades of land wars, it is expected to play a bigger role given America’s Pacific pivot and growing reluctance to deploy troops.
“You’re going to see a much greater emphasis on using sea-based forces to produce an effect,” Admiral Gary Roughead told Reuters. “You’re seeing it in the Mediterranean, with Syria, and you’re seeing it in the Pacific and the Middle East.”
To celebrate America’s Navy, we’ve pulled out some of the coolest photos from the archives.
After Reconstruction from the Civil War, America began a new era of foreign intervention, with the Navy leading the way. This 1899 photo shows sailors eating on the USS Olympia, which was America's flagship during the Spanish-American War of the previous year.
President Theodore Roosevelt ordered a fleet of U.S. ships to circumnavigate the world from 1907-1909.
As the first World War raged in Europe, America rushed to build more and better ships, as seen in this 1917 photo ...
... and growing ranks of sailors, as seen in this 1917 picture of graduation exercises at the Naval Academy.
The last of the U.S. Navy's rigid airships, the USS Macon performed scouting missions from 1933 -- 1935.
Japan's surprise attack of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941 spurred America's entry into World War II. This photo shows a memorial service for sailors killed in the attack.
Sailors at Pearl Harbor worked to salvage their ships and restore the base. This picture shows the recovery of a Japanese midget submarine abandoned during the attack.
Meanwhile on the mainland, recruits signed up for the Navy and other armed services by the millions.
Women also served the Navy through the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES) program.
The US Navy led the Pacific War against the Japanese. This 1942 photo shows the torpedoed Japanese destroyer Yamakaze photographed through the periscope of USS Nautilus.
On August 14, 1945, Japan surrendered to the Allies, effectively ending World War II. The highly anticipated 'Victory over Japan Day,' gave way to some uninhibited celebrations -- like this classic sailor's kiss in Times Square.
Only five years after WWII, America was fighting another war, this time in Korea. This 1950 photo shows the USS Missouri bombarding North Korea's coastline in order to cut enemy communications.
They have planes too. This 1952 photo shows a U.S. Navy Douglas Skyraider dropping bombs during the Korean War.
Beginning in 1954 and lasting for 2 decades, the Vietnam War was the next major U.S. conflict. This Navy jet fighter shoots Zuni rockets while flying over South Vietnam.
A crewman sits behind a machine gun while on patrol of the Go Cong River. Fighting in dense jungle against well-supplied Viet Cong left American troops frustrated with combat conditions. It was after this war that 'Post Traumatic Stress Disorder' was officially identified.
The Navy played a big role in the Cuban Missile Crisis, enforcing a blockade to keep weapons deliveries to Cuba. This 1962 photo from shows a Navy seaplane and destroyer ship patrolling a Soviet submarine.
Operation Desert Storm, the US-led mission to liberate Kuwait from Iraq, deployed 14 destroyers and 2 battleships. In 1991, battleship USS Missouri fires at Iraqi targets stationed along the Kuwaiti coast.
Here are one Navy pilot's stats marked on the side of his attack aircraft while deployed in support of Operation Desert Storm. They show combat missions flown, missiles launched, and bombs dropped.
In response to 9/11 terrorism attacks, the U.S. entered into the 'War On Terror' to eliminate al-Qaeda. The Navy's amphibious assault ship, deployed in Operation Enduring Freedom, is shown dropping off a 5-ton truck.
A Navy sailor working in an expeditionary command tests his night-vision goggles before setting off on another night patrol through Iraq's waterways in 2007.
A Navy Seahawk helicopter returns to USNS Mercy hospital ship after completing a humanitarian mission in the Pacific in 2008.
This F/A-18C Hornet is the nation's first strike-fighter jet and has a top speed of 1,190 mph and costs $US39 million each. A typical Navy air wing has about 14 of these on hand.
The U.S. Navy provides air, land and sea support to the military. These divers search the sea floor during a salvage recovery exercise in 2010.
Navy SEALs leap from the ramp of an Air Force transport aircraft during parachute training over a Marine Corps base in Hawaii. Exercises like this show collaboration between military branches.
The USS Enterprise, or 'Big E,' is the world's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and has more steel construction than the Empire State Building. She is the largest navy vessel with a price tag of $US451 million.
The U.S. Naval Academy Class of 2012 celebrates their graduation and commissioning ceremony. Many new officers will head to one of the 11 carrier strike groups America has posted around the globe.
(image url='http://static.businessinsider.com/image/52274211eab8ea4339edd914-1200-924/newport-news-shipbuilding-huntington-ingalls-norfolk-virginia-51-1.jpg' alt='Newport News Shipbuilding Huntington Ingalls Norfolk Virginia 51' link='lightbox' size='xlarge' align='center' nocrop='true' clear='true')
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.