Assorted Naval Firsts
|First aircraft to take off from a ship. Eugene
Ely, a Curtiss pilot, launches from an 83 foot wooden platform built
over the ram bow of the cruiser USS Birmingham in Chesapeake
Bay on 14 November 1910. His aircraft is a Curtiss pusher land
plane powered by a vertical, four-cylinder, water cooled 50 hp Curtiss
|First "arrested landing on" and "take off
from" a ship's deck. Eugene Ely, on 18 January 1911
successfully lands and takes off from the armored cruiser USS
Pennsylvania in San Francisco Bay.
|First aircraft purchased by the U.S. Navy. On 8 May
1911, the Navy Department allocates $5,500 dollars to purchase a Curtiss
A-1 Triad. The date is the official birthday of U.S. naval
|First Naval Aviator. Lt. T. G. Ellyson, USN,
receives orders to
flight training in 1910 and becomes naval aviator number one. Following
the initial aircraft buy, an additional Curtiss and one Wright aircraft
are purchased. Curtiss and Wright each include training for one
pilot and one mechanic with the aircraft. Lt. John Rogers and Lt. John H. Towers
become naval aviators number two and three respectively.
|First official flight by commissioned naval
aviators. On 1 July 1911, Lt. T. G. Ellyson and Lt. John Rodgers fly
the Curtiss A-1 Triad.
|First Marine Corps aviators. Lt. A. A. Cunningham
and Lt. B. L. Smith report for flight training in 1912 to become naval
aviators five and six respectively.
|First operational flights over hostile territory.
On 25 April 1914, air detachments on the USS Birmingham and USS
Mississippi (five aircraft and seven pilots) conduct a series of
observation flights over Mexican positions.
|First combat damage to an American aircraft. Lt.
P. N. L. Bellinger returns from an observation flight over Mexican
positions near Vera Cruz with bullet holes in his aircraft.
|First U.S. Naval aviator to achieve the status of Ace
(five enemy aircraft downed). Ens. David Ingalls, USNR, flying a RAF
Sopwith Camel downs his fifth German aircraft in November 1918.
|First U.S. aircraft carrier. In 1919, Congress
authorizes the conversion of the collier USS Jupiter into an
aircraft carrier to be named the Langley. The USS
Langley is commissioned on 20 March 1922.
|First aircraft to takeoff and land on USS Langley. Aeromarines and Vought VE-7's.
The first aircraft designed specifically for the new carrier is the Curtiss
|First aircraft carrier designed from keel to island to
accommodate aircraft. The USS Ranger is authorized in 1929
and commissioned in 1934. The USS Lexington and USS
Saratoga preced the Ranger but are
designed as battleships and converted to aircraft carriers.
|First trans Atlantic flight. The first aircraft to cross the
Atlantic is the Curtiss built NC-4 commanded by Lcdr. Albert C. Read
with a crew of five. Senior pilot of the NC-4 is Lt. Elmer Stone,
U.S. Coast Guard (USCG aviator number one). The total trip is 19 days
(58 hours and 53 minutes flying time) from Rockaway Beach NY to Plymouth
England via Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Azores and Portugal. The flight utilizes a
picket line of 68 naval vessels at 50 mile intervals for navigation and safety
along the flight path. See first across.
|First Aviation Squadron to be "born" in a
combat zone. The first US Navy Attack Helicopter Squadron, Helicopter
Attack (Light) Squadron 3, The Seawolves, at Vung Tau, Republic of Vietnam, on 1 April 1967.
|First American to make a British naval vessel strike her
flag. John Manley, under a Massachusetts commission and under the
Pine Tree Banner.
|First to carry the Grand Union flag, or American
flag, into naval operations and to make a capture. Esek Hopkins.
|First to make a British naval vessel strike her colors
under a commission of the Congress and under the American flag. John
|First ship under the American flag to fight in the Pacific. The Essex
commanded by Captain David Porter rounds Cape Horn in 1813 to break up
British navigation. Essex is captured on 28 March 1814 off
Chile by HMS Phoebe commanded by Captain Hillyar.
|First sea battle in which opposing ships do not have
visual contact. The Battle of Coral Sea on 7-8 May 1942 is between opposing
aircraft carriers of the Imperial Japanese Navy and the United States
Navy. See Coral Sea.
|First black American commissioned in the modern U.S.
Navy. Bernard W. Robinson, Harvard University medical student, is
commissioned as an ensign in U.S. Naval Reserve on 18 June 1942.
|First black American commission in the Chaplain Corps,
U.S. Navy. James Russell Brown of the African Methodist Episcopal
Church serves on active duty from 26 April 1944 - 30 April 1946.
|First African-American to graduate from the U.S. Naval
Academy. Wesley A. Brown graduates from the Naval Academy on June 3, 1949.
|First black American promoted to the rank of Navy
Captain. Thomas David Parham, Jr, Chaplain Corps, United States
Navy, enters the U.S. Navy on 26 August 1944 and retires on 1 April 1982.
to Captain on 1 February 1966, he is an ordained minister of the
United Presbyterian Church.
|First black American flag officer. Samuel Lee Gravely Jr.
is promoted to Rear Admiral on 28 April 1971. Following a series of
successful commands he commands
the Navy's Third Fleet, one of four numbered fleet commands in the U.S.
Navy of that time. Gravely is also the first black American to
command a U.S. Navy warship, the USS Falgout, a
destroyer escort, on 31 January 1962.
|First American naval articles adopted by the Continental
Congress. The Rules for the
Regulation of the Navy of the United Colonies of North America,
adopted on 28 November 1775 and known as the "Blue Book." See Rules.
|First to raise the American flag on a ship of war.
John Paul Jones.
|First American navy yard. Portsmouth Navy Yard,
New Hampshire, consisting of 58.18 acres at a cost of $5,500 is acquired after
the establishment of the Navy Department on 30 April 1798.
|First American newspaper published in California.
Chaplain Walter Colton, U.S. Navy, publishes The
Californian on 15 August 1846
at Monterey. Colton is the first Protestant clergyman to settle in
|First Protestant worship services in California.
Commander J. B. Montgomery, U.S. Navy, in June 1846, conducts Divine Worship
Service at Yerba Buena, San Francisco. He requests permission to hold services
after finding no Protestant church ashore. Montgomery, who command
the USS Portsmouth, also hoists the Stars and Stripes
ashore at San Francisco on 9 July 1846 when official news of the war with
Mexico reaches him.
|First Commander in Chief to hold divine worship service
for the Navy. President Franklin D. Roosevelt on Easter Sunday, 1
April 1934, in absence of a chaplain stood on the
quarter deck of the Nourmahal and read the service from the
Episcopal Book of Common Prayer. Officers and men of the USS
Ellis are present. The flag of the President of the United States is
flying from the
|First Civil Engineer Corps officers appointed.
|First U.S. Navy officer to become a Commodore. John
Barry is appointed Commodore in 1794, following the Navy reorganization.
|First commission issued by President Washington to an
officer afloat. Captain Hopley Yeaton, Master of a Revenue
Cutter, is commission is dated 21 March 1791. The commission is signed by both
Washington and Jefferson.. The Continental Navy is disbanded and the sole
maritime defense is the Revenue Cutter Service, now the Coast
|First U.S. Navy officer to become an Admiral. David
Glasgow Farragut is appointed Admiral on 25 July 1866.
|First naval officer to become an engineer in the U.S.
Navy. Charles Haynes Haswell is commissioned 19 February 1836 by
Secretary of the Navy Dickerson to design steam power equipment.
|First chaplain commissioned in the U.S. Navy after the
Navy Department is established in 1798. William Balch, whose father
was a Continental Navy chaplain, and whose grandfather was a Royal Navy
|First female U.S. Navy officer to command a
ship. LCDR Darlene Iskra reported for
duty aboard USS Opportune (ARS-41) as commanding officer on 27 December 1990.
|First vessels commissioned by the Continental Congress in December
Alfred, Columbus, Cortez, Andrea Doria,
|First United States warship to circumnavigate the
world. USS Vincennes, commanded by Commander William
Finch leaves New York on 3 September 1826 and
returns via the Cape of Good Hope on 8 June 1830.
|First American warship of iron using steam. USS
Michigan is built at Erie, Pennsylvania, under an Act of Congress
dated 9 September 1842. The Michigan is fabricated in Pittsburgh and
transported in parts to Erie, where she is completed and launched in
1844. Renamed the Wolverine in 1905, she is stricken
from the naval list on 12 March 1927.
|First warship with propelling machinery below the water
line. The screw warship Princeton, designed by
Ericsson in 1841.
|First paddle wheeled steam warships. The USS
Mississippi and USS Missouri, finished in 1841.
|First United States warship to be docked in a government
dry dock. The Delaware enters the Norfolk dry dock,
Portsmouth, Virginia on 17 June 1833.
|First U.S. battleship. The keel of the USS Maine
laid 17 October 1888 and the vessel is launched in 1890. Maine
is destroyed by a mysterious explosion in the harbor of Havana, Cuba on
15 February 1898. Of a crew of 354, only 16 escaped injury or
death. The Maine had 12 inch side armor and two 10
inch guns in each of the two turrets. A second battleship Maine is
|First commissioned U.S. Navy submarine.
Holland (SS-1) is purchased from John P. Holland, the
inventor, on 12 October 1900 for $160,000. The Holland is
the sixth submarine built by the inventor and is capable of a speed of
six knots and depth of 75 feet.. Following the civil war, U.S. Navy
tests with a 22 foot submersible built by Oliver Halstead, the Intelligent
Whale, ended in disaster with the loss of 39 lives.
|First electrically propelled vessel of the U.S.
Navy. The collier Jupiter is commissioned on 7 April 1913, is converted to
the first U.S. aircraft carrier USS Langley and re-commissioned
on 20 March 1922.
|First hospital ship assigned for a sole purpose. USS
Solace is outfitted as a hospital ship in 1898. The Navy Register of 1864 lists USS
Red Rover as a "hospital steamer" indicating a dual role.
|First large floating dry dock of the U.S. Navy. The Dewey,
Subic Bay, Philippine Islands.
|First nuclear powered warship. USS Nautilus
(SS-571) is launched 21 January 1954 and is commissioned on 30 September
1954. Nautilus' first commanding officer is Commander Eugene P.
|First nuclear powered surface warship. The USS
Long Beach (CGN-9) is launched 14 July 1959 and is commissioned 9
September 1961. In addition, the Long Beach is the first large combatant in
which the main batteries are missiles and the last U.S. warship built
with teak decks.