By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Sara Eshleman
More than 300 Sailors aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Bulkeley (DDG 84) celebrated the United States Navy’s birthday Oct. 13, 2018.
The U.S. Navy as we know it today was established during the War of Independence by the Continental Congress on Oct. 13, 1775, exactly 243 years ago.
“Sometimes we forget that our Navy was downsized and almost disbanded following the American Revolution because of national debt,” said Cmdr. John Lucas, Bulkeley’s commanding officer. “Then at the beginning of the 19th century, our Navy rose up again to meet the threat of the Barbary pirates who were harassing and disrupting American shipping in the Mediterranean—where we are right now—between Spain and Africa.”
The conflict was named the Barbary wars. Ask any Sailor and they can tell you the names of the six armed frigates that responded to the threat, becoming the prototype for the warships that patrol the oceans today, always on watch. This origin story is especially relevant to Bulkeley, as the ship is deployed to the Mediterranean.
“The American Navy is not the Navy of the 18th century,” said Lucas. “We boast a legion of naval warriors capable of fighting against asymmetric threats. We have fast, mobile platforms using highly technical weapons capable of operating over the horizon allowing us to attack targets that cannot be seen with human eyes. We have fast and deathly silent platforms operating under the oceans to gain information and provide unparalleled fleet protection and attack capabilities from below the sea. And through naval aviation (that’s you, Death Howlers),” said Lucas, referring to the squadron deployed with Bulkeley. “Our Navy has unparalleled support and can achieve air superiority for force protection, close air support, presence, and offensive operations.”
In addition to Lucas’s comments, the formal celebration included a live performance of the national anthem and a cake cutting.
“We, the Navy, are now older and we’re wiser,” said Lucas. “When the Navy tells you to do, or not to do something, you/we need to listen…a lot of warriors put in a lot of blood, sweat and years for us to be where we’re at today. If you’ve bought-in to what you’ve been told (by the USN) and live by it, you’re now one of the old, salty souls that will help turn our newest, greenest recruits into something this entire nation can actually use…warfighters willing to conduct their business – with unblemished honor, courage and commitment until they see fit to finally go ashore….back to where they came from.”
Bulkeley, homeported at Naval Station Norfolk, is conducting naval operations in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe and Africa.