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Navy Department

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Title: Navy Department  
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Navy Department

Not to be confused with United States Navy.
Department of the Navy
Seal of the U.S. Department of the Navy
Agency overview
Formed 1798
Headquarters The Pentagon, Arlington County, Virginia, U.S.
Agency executive Ray Mabus (SECNAV)
Parent agency Department of Defense

The United States Department of the Navy (DON) was established by an Act of Congress on 30 April 1798 (initiated by the recommendation of James McHenry),[1] to provide a government organizational structure to the United States Navy and, from 1834 onwards, for the United States Marine Corps, and when directed by the President, for the United States Coast Guard as a service within the Navy.[2] The Department of the Navy was an Executive Department and the Secretary of the Navy was a member of the President's cabinet until 1949, when amendments to the National Security Act of 1947 changed the name of the National Military Establishment to the Department of Defense and made it an Executive Department. The Department of the Navy then became, along with the Department of the Army and Department of the Air Force, a Military Department within the Department of Defense: subject to the authority, direction and control of the Secretary of Defense.


The Department of the Navy is headed by the Secretary of the Navy, also known as the SECNAV in naval jargon, who has the authority to conduct all of the affairs of the Department: subject to lawful authority, the Secretary of Defense, and the President. The Secretary of the Navy is appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate.[3] The Secretary is assisted by an Under Secretary of the Navy, four Assistant Secretaries of the Navy and a General Counsel of the Department of the Navy, who are also appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate.

The highest ranking military officers in the Department of the Navy are the Chief of Naval Operations and the Commandant of the Marine Corps, who are the principal military advisors to the Secretary of the Navy. They supervise their respective military services of the Department of the Navy, and in a separate capacity serves as members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. They are assisted by a Vice Chief of Naval Operations and an Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps.


Unlike its Army and Air Force counterparts, the Department of the Navy comprises two uniformed services: the United States Navy and the United States Marine Corps (sometimes collectively called the "naval services" or "sea services").[4]

The Department of the Navy consists of all elements of the United States Navy and the United States Marine Corps. According to Navy Regulations Section 0204-2, the term "Navy Department" refers only to the executive offices at the seat of government.

The Department of the Navy is composed of the following:[5]

  • Office of the Secretary of the Navy, also known as the Secretariat;
  • Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, also known as OPNAV or the Navy Staff;
  • Headquarters Marine Corps;
  • The entire operating forces of the Navy (including naval aviation) and the Marine Corps, including both the active and reserve components (the Navy Reserve and Marine Corps Reserve) of those forces;
  • All field activities, headquarters, forces, bases, installations, activities, and functions under the control or supervision of the Secretary of the Navy; and
  • When it is operating as a service in the Navy, the Coast Guard. (Ordinarily part of the Department of Homeland Security, federal law provides that the Coast Guard may be transferred to the Department of the Navy by the President at any time, or by Congress during time of war).

Proposed redesignation

A provision in the initial House of Representatives bill (H.R. 1585) for the fiscal year 2008 national defense authorization would have renamed the Department of the Navy as the "Department of the Navy and Marine Corps." The bill passed in the House on 17 May 2007,[6] but encountered opposition among members of the DoD civilian leadership and among senior Navy admirals and Marine Corps generals.

In the Senate, the provision was replaced in S. Amdt. 2011, an amendment in the nature of a substitute proposed by Senator Carl Levin of Michigan on 9 July 2007 and agreed to by unanimous consent on 1 October 2007.[7] The amendment removed the renaming provision and also made other changes. The House version including the provision was withdrawn in conference committee and so was not included in the final National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008.

See also

Notes and references

  • United States Navy Regulations, Accessed on 2011-03-23.

External links

  • Department of the Navy website
  • US Marine Corps official website
  • US Navy official website
  • Department of Defense website
  • Proposed and finalized federal regulations from the United States Department of the Navy

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