Today is the 247th birthday of the United States Navy.

The sea service officially commenced operations on Oct. 13, 1775, when the Continental Congress commissioned two ships, each outfitted with 80 men and various swivel and carriage guns to intercept transports providing munitions and supplies to British personnel in America.

The move was the culmination of efforts by select members of Congress, including John Adams, who had long been advocating for a unified Navy to supplant the fleets individually operated by colonies.

“For months, [Adams] and a few others had been agitating in Congress for the establishment of an American fleet,” according to the Naval History & Heritage Command. “They argued that a fleet would defend the seacoast towns, protect vital trade, retaliate against British raiders, and make it possible to seek out among neutral nations of the world the arms and stores that would make resistance possible.”

In a message celebrating 247 years of international service, Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro lauded the nation’s sailors for “deterring our adversaries and extending power and presence on a global scale.”

“For 247 years, our #Navy has kept the watch, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,” the Navy secretary’s post read. “We have built upon a foundation of readiness and resiliency through your commitment and hard work. … Staying ready and relevant is our mission, and we couldn’t do it without you. Our greatest strength and strategic advantage will always be our people. Thank you to all our Sailors, civilians, families and veterans.”

Happy birthday to sailors past and present. Here’s to 247 more. Non sibi sed patriae.

Jon Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times, and a USMC veteran.

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