Posts Tagged ‘The Naval Historical Center’

The Washington Navy Yard

The Washington Navy Yard

The United States Navy recognizes October 13, 1775, as the date of its official establishment, when the Continental Congress passed a resolution creating the Continental Navy.  So to celebrate the upcoming 239th birthday of the Navy, on this bike ride I decided to ride to the Washington Navy Yard, which is located in and takes up approximately half of the Near Southeast neighborhood on the Anacostia River (MAP) in Southeast D.C.

The Washington Navy Yard, or The Yard is it is often referred to, was established in October of 1799.  The Yard was built under the direction of Benjamin Stoddert, the first Secretary of the Navy, under the supervision of the Yard’s first commandant, Commodore Thomas Tingey, and is the oldest shore establishment of the U.S. Navy.  It was formerly the shipyard and ordnance plant of the U.S. Navy.  From its first years, the Washington Navy Yard became the navy’s largest shipbuilding and shipfitting facility, with 22 vessels constructed there.

The Yard currently serves as a ceremonial and administrative center for the U.S. Navy, home to the Chief of Naval Operations, and is headquarters for the Naval Sea Systems Command, Naval Historical Center, the Department of Naval History, the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps, Naval Reactors, Marine Corps Institute, the United States Navy Band, and other more classified facilities. The Yard also includes the Navy Museum which houses the Navy Art Collection and its displays of naval art and artifacts that trace the Navy’s history from the Revolutionary War to the present day.  A museum ship, the destroyer USS Barry, is also at The Yard and is open to tourists. The Barry is frequently used for change of command ceremonies for naval commands in the area.

The Yard is just one of 42 Navy bases in the United States, with a number of other bases overseas, either in U.S.-controlled territories or in foreign countries under a Status of Forces Agreement.  A large number of bases and installations are needed to support the Navy’s size, complexity, and international presence of the Navy’s personnel and operations.

The U.S. Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined.  It operates 289 deployable battle force ships and more than 3700 operational aircraft.  The U.S. Navy also has the world’s largest carrier fleet, with 11 in service, one under construction, two planned, and one in reserve.

The service currently has 325,143 active duty personnel and 107,524 in the Navy Reserve. It operates 286 ships in active service and more than 3,700 aircraft.  It also has approximately 201,000 Navy Department civilian employees.

So in recognition of the Navy’s upcoming anniversary, I’d like to say happy birthday to the Navy, and to all those who have and are serving.

NavyYard02     NavyYard01

NavyYard04     NavyYard05

[Click on the thumbnails above to view the full size photos]

The Lone Sailor

The Lone Sailor

The Lone Sailor is a seven-foot tall bronze sculpture by American artist and World War II veteran Stanley Bleifeld. It is located on the granite Memorial Plaza which forms the amphitheater of the United States Navy Memorial, located in downtown D.C. on Pennsylvania Avenue (MAP), across the street from the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration Building, and a block east of the FBI Headquarters Building. On this bike ride I stopped by to see and admire the statue, and to learn a little more about it.

The Lone Sailor is intended to be a composite of the Navy bluejacket, past, present and future, and represents all people who ever served are serving now or who are yet to serve in the U.S. Navy. The process of conceptualization, modeling, sculpting, and casting went through five initial images based on four different models, and took over a year of work before culminating in the final version as it now stands at the Memorial. After giving up on honor guard models, Bleifeld asked New London Submarine Base for someone more typical. They sent Petty Officer 1st class Dan Maloney. Bleifeld felt he had the appearance he had been looking for, and used him as the sculpture’s model. However, the name of the lone sailor as read on the statue’s seabag is a fictitious one, William Thompson.

As part of the casting process, the bronze for The Lone Sailor was mixed with artifacts from eight U. S. Navy ships, provided by the Naval Historical Center. The ships span the Navy’s history, yielding small pieces of copper sheeting, spikes, hammock hooks and other fragments from the post-revolutionary frigates Constitution (“Old Ironsides”) and Constellation; the steamer Hartford, flagship of Admiral David G. Farragut in the Civil War era; the battleship USS Maine; the iron-hulled steamer/sailing ship USS Ranger; the World War II-era cruiser USS Biloxi and aircraft carrier USS Hancock, and the nuclear-powered submarine USS Seawolf. One last addition was a personal decoration from today’s Navy, one given to sailors in war and peace, the National Defense Service Medal. These bits of metal are now part of The Lone Sailor.

The unveiling of the statue took place at the formal dedication of the Memorial on October 13, 1987, the 212th birthday of the Navy. Since that time, the immense popularity of the Lone Sailor led to the Navy Memorial’s Statue Outreach Program which began in 1997 with the placement of replicas of the Lone Sailor statue at other locations. Today there are a dozen replicas of the statue placed throughout the U.S. They are located in: Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Bremerton, Washington; Burlington, Vermont; Charleston, South Carolina; Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Great Lakes, Illinois; Jacksonville, Florida; Long Beach, California; Norfolk, Virginia; San Francisco, California; Waterloo, Iowa, and; West Haven, Connecticut. So, if you can’t come to see the original in D.C. any time soon, you can visit one of the other Lone Sailors at one of these other locations.