On Oct. 13, 1775, at the urging of John Adams and his fellow “navalists,” the Second Continental Congress approved a plan to commission two warships — relatively diminutive 10-gun sailing vessels with 80-man crews — to intercept British arms shipments to the colonies. Not everybody liked the idea of a standing naval force; congressional delegate Edward Rutledge of South Carolina called one proposal “the most wild, visionary mad project that ever had been imagined.” Nevertheless, an American Navy was born, and it’s grown into a 279-ship force that dominates the globe’s high seas.
So how does the Navy, which turns 242 today, celebrate another year of going down to the sea in ships? The way it celebrates any fine Navy day: by working its ass off. Here are 18 images showing how sailors around the fleet spent their last Navy birthday on Oct. 13, 2016.