How Many Navy Fleets Does the U.S. Have? And Other Facts About One of the World's Biggest Navies

By Danielle DeSimone

How many fleets does the U.S. Navy have? How do submariners tell time? Which U.S. president was a sailor in World War II? For a military branch that has been around for over 200 years, the Navy has established itself as an impressive fighting force.

Here are seven facts about the U.S. Navy:

1. How Many Fleets Does the U.S. Navy Have?

The U.S. Navy has seven active, numbered fleets in its arsenal. 2nd Fleet, 3rd Fleet, 4th Fleet, 5th Fleet, 6th Fleet, 7th Fleet and 10th Fleet. Certain numbered fleets, which were originally established during World War II, have since been deactivated or merged with other fleets, which is why today’s seven active fleets are not numbered in numerical order.

2. Is the U.S. Navy the Largest Navy in the World?

Technically, the U.S. Navy is the world’s second-largest navy – as of a 2021 Department of Defense report, China holds the title of the largest on the globe. However, most of China’s navy force is made up of small, coastal patrol ships and frigates, so although their numbers are slightly greater, the U.S. Navy’s fleets far outstrip theirs in power.

3. The U.S. Navy is a Force to Be Reckoned With

Photo credit U.S. Navy/Seaman Oswald Felix

The guided-missile destroyer USS Halsey operates alongside the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier (not pictured) in the Arabian Sea in June 2021.

The U.S. Navy has bigger and more heavily armed vessels than any other navy in the world. It boasts 11 aircraft carriers, 92 cruisers and destroyers and 59 small surface combatants and combat logistics ships. Its submarine fleet is made up of 50 attack submarines, 14 ballistic missile submarines and four cruise missile submarines. The U.S. Navy is also bolstered by the navies of American allies, who work in close collaboration with the United States.

4. Navy SEALs Are So Elite, Even Their Way of Thinking is Intense

Navy SEALs are well known for the incredibly intense physical and mental training that they undergo in preparation for some of the most dangerous missions undertaken by the U.S. military.

Photo credit Photo by Staff Sgt. Corban Lundborg/U.S. Navy SEALs

But did you know that this training actually changes the way their brains process fear? With this training, SEALs learn to how to remain calm and carry out their tasks even in the midst of chaos and high-pressure situations.

5. Several U.S. Presidents Were World War II Navy Veterans

Before he was president of the United States, John F. Kennedy served in the Navy in World War II, where his brave actions led to injury and he was awarded the Purple Heart. | Photo credit John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum Photograph by Frank Turgeon Jr.

Six U.S. presidents served in the U.S. Navy during World War II before they led the nation. These veteran presidents include John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush.

6. The Navy’s Blue Angels Serve as a Representation of Naval Excellence

The Navy’s flight demonstration squadron, the Blue Angels, is one of the world’s most elite military flying teams, with pilots capable of flying in such tight formations that sometimes their jets are only inches apart.

7. Submariners Are All Volunteers

Deployment on a submarine is incredibly challenging. Cramped in a nuclear-powered, tiny space, nearly 130 service members must sleep, eat, work and live with no sense of time for approximately 90 days at a time. Communication with loved ones back home is limited, as emails only send out when the submarine surfaces, and that only happens a few days per deployment. And submariners operate on constantly-rotating eight-hour shifts, making for a grueling schedule as they keep track of time by the hours they work.

Because of this, all submariners have volunteered for their positions, and many take great pride in that fact.

- This story originally appeared on USO.org in August 2021. It has been updated in October 2021.

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