How Much Do You Know About the Modern US Navy?



By: Gavin Thagard

6 Min Quiz

Image: Stocktrek Images/Stocktrek Images/Gettyimages

About This Quiz

The history of the United States military can trace its roots back to the American Revolution, though the Navy played a much less important role in conflicts for the first century that the United States existed. However, that quickly changed as the 20th century approached, and by 1880, a strong Navy was the future of homeland defense. How much do you know about the modern U.S. Navy that formed? Take this quiz and find out for yourself!

The modern U.S. Navy was born in the 1880s, but many historians would consider the Navy still in its infancy throughout the end of the 19th century. It wasn't until the two Great Wars that the United States started to put together a Navy unlike any the world had ever seen before. By the end of WWII, no country would come close to matching the power of the United States at sea, as the U.S. produced the most dominant boats on the ocean. 

Are you ready to take this quiz and see how much you know about the modern U.S. Navy? Are you going to be able to name some of the most important innovations for the Navy and the people who helped bring them about? 

If you're ready for a challenge, set sail with this quiz and see where the course takes you! 

After which war did the United States Navy go into decline?

The Civil War marked the first time two iron warships engaged each other in battle. Known as "The Battle of the Ironclads," the results of the conflict were indecisive, but the future of naval warfare was forever changed.


Which foreign country was involved in the Virginius Affair?

The Virginius Affair was a conflict between the United States and Spain where Spain captured a U.S. ship trying to land men in Cuba for an insurrection. The conflict ended peacefully, but it displayed the weakness of the U.S. Navy.


Which former Secretary of the Navy appointed the first Naval Advisory Board to rebuild the Navy starting in 1881?

By 1881, members of the U.S. Navy knew their ships were far outclassed by foreign powers, particularly when they arrived in foreign ports. Despite the lack of naval power, the U.S. government refused to pour funds into the Navy until William Hunt made a full report on just how far the Navy had deteriorated.


What was the first protected cruiser launched by the U.S. "New Navy"?

Built at the New York Navy Yard, the construction of the USS Atlanta was sponsored by Jessie Lincoln. Lincoln was the granddaughter of President Abraham Lincoln.


What does the "D" stand for in "ABCD" ships?

A dispatch vessel, the USS Dolphin was responsible for delivering messages before the age of the radio. The ship also flew the Flag of the President of the United States, the first Navy ship to do so.


Which protected cruiser launched in 1885?

To open up the name Chicago, the USS Chicago was renamed the Alton in 1928. Reduced to a receiving ship, the Alton was eventually sold in 1936.


What was the name of the squadron set underway in 1889 for the ​training of the "New Navy"?

The USS Chicago was the flagship of the Squadron of Evolution. The ship was commanded by Rear Admiral John G. Walker, a Civil War veteran.


How many battleships came out of the Indiana-class?

All three battleships from the Indiana-class participated in the Spanish-American War and WWI in some capacity. They were all finally decommissioned in 1919 after nearly 24 years of service.


Which president ordered the Great White Fleet to sail around the world?

At the start of the 20th century, the world was shrinking and foreign affairs were becoming much more prevalent in the United States. With that in mind, President Theodore Roosevelt developed a foreign policy described as "speak softly and carry a big stick."


Which class of ship was the oldest to take part in the Great White Fleet?

Designed for coastal defense, the Kearsarge-class consisted of two battleships, the USS Kearsarge and the USS Kentucky. However, neither ship saw action in any major battle during their tenures in the Navy.


Which U.S. naval ship sank in the Havana Harbor. leading into the Spanish-American War?

The USS Maine went into construction in 1888 at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The ship took seven years to complete and was almost obsolete by the time it hit the ocean in 1895.


Who commanded the Asiatic Squadron during the Battle of Manila Bay?

George Dewey and his crew received numerous honors for their victory at Manila Bay, including a medal known as the Dewey Medal. As for Dewey, he was promoted to Admiral of the Navy, the only person to receive such a rank in the U.S. Navy.


Which squadron defeated a Spanish fleet at the Battle of Santiago de Cuba?

Powered by four battleships, the U.S. Navy landed a decisive victory at the Battle of Santiago de Cuba. The victory gave Cuba independence from Spain.


Leading into WWI, what was the only country with a larger navy than the United States?

Known as the Grand Fleet, Britain's Navy took part in the Battle of Jutland, the largest naval battle of WWI. Though Britain lost more ships and sailors, they repelled the German attack, and both sides claimed an indecisive victory.


Where was a canal built to allow ships to cross from the Carribean to the Pacific Ocean?

Panama was part of Columbia prior to the construction of the Panama Canal. When the United States approached Colombia about building the canal, the country refused, so the U.S. encouraged a successful rebellion by the Panamanians who were more willing to negotiate​ the construction of the canal.


Where was a U.S. naval base built to protect the Panama Canal?

After the 9/11 Attacks, "war on terror" detainees were held at Guantanamo Bay. President George Bush made the claim that prisoners at Guantanamo Bay did not have the same legal rights as other U.S. citizens because they weren't on U.S. soil.


Which foreign ship launched in 1906 made older naval battleships obsolete?

Battleships built before the HMS Dreadnought were referred to as pre-dreadnought ships. The HMS Dreadnought was known for her main battery and steam turbines, making it the fastest battleship on the ocean at the time.


What was the first class of U.S. ships built in the "dreadnought" style?

Two battleships were designed out of the South Carolina-class, the USS South Carolina and the USS Michigan. Favoring speed over armor, these ships served through the end of WWI.


Which country tried to send illegal arms to Mexico in the Ypiranga incident, forcing the United States to set up a naval blockade in 1914?

Mexico was in the middle of a civil war in 1914 when Germany sent arms to the Mexican government. However, the United States had placed Mexico under an arms embargo, but since the countries weren't at war, Germany was eventually able to unload the arms.


Which president signed into law the Naval Act of 1916?

The Naval Act of 1916 was meant to expand the U.S. Navy to be the largest in the world. However, in 1922, the United States agreed to limit the arms race by matching their Navy to that of the Royal Navy.


What year was the Naval War College established?

The founder of the Naval War College, Commodore Stephen Luce, also took over as the president of the college. Luce had previously fought in both the Mexican-American War and the Civil War.


Which famous scientist served as the president of the Naval Consulting Board established in 1915?

Thomas Edison was one of the greatest inventors in American history. A few of his most famous inventions include the phonograph, the motion picture camera and a light bulb that was more practical to use.


Where did the United States Navy set up a large minefield to stop German U-boats in WWI?

U-boats were a vital component of the German military during WWI and WWII. They were particularly effective at enforcing blockades against enemy ships.


What was the name of the first non-nursing enlistment rating for women in the Navy?

Loretta Perfectus Walsh was the first woman to receive the rank of Yeoman (F). Her ranking marked the first time a woman in the U.S. military received the same benefits and pay as a male counterpart.


What was the name of the treaty signed by the nations which were victorious in WWI that limited naval construction?

Both Japan and Italy were members of the five countries who signed the Five-Power Treaty. However, as the two countries geared up for WWII in the mid-1930s, they rejected the treaty and limitations on their navies.


What was the United States' first aircraft carrier?

The USS Langley was constructed from a converted collier built in 1912 and called the USS Jupiter. The ship was bombed by the Japanese during WWII and had to be scuttled.


What organization was created in 1921 to oversee the creation of U.S. naval aviation?

By the 1920s, the United States realized naval aviation was the future of warfare. That proved true in WWII when the ability to control the sea first meant controlling the air.


Who is credited with helping enact the Two-Ocean Navy Act?

The Two-Ocean Navy Act placed aircraft carriers at the center of the U.S. Navy. Once it was implemented, the act increased the size of the Navy by nearly 70 percent.


Which U.S. Navy base was attacked, launching the country into WWII?

The Japanese intended to cripple the United States' Pacific Fleet during the Attack on Pearl Harbor. Luckily for the United States, no aircraft carriers were at the base during the attack, which helped the Navy recover much quicker.


Which U.S. naval battle in the Pacific Theater during WWII crippled Japan's fleet?

While the United States focused on defeating Germany on the Eastern Front, Japan hoped to gain an advantage over the U.S. by launching another surprise attack at the Midway Atoll. However, the United States learned of the attack prior to it occurring, allowing an effective counter-attack strategy.


Which U.S. battleship saw the surrender of the Empire of Japan?

The USS Missouri served in WWII, the Korean War and Operation Desert Storm. By the time it was decommissioned, the USS Missouri had been awarded 11 battle stars.


Which year were women allowed to be permanent members of the Navy?

Women were allowed to serve in the military permanently with the passage of the Women's Armed Services Integration Act. Prior to the act, women only served in the military during times of war.


Which president was involved in the "Revolt of the Admirals"?

After WWII and with the nuclear bombings of Japan, the United States government sought to replace a large standing military with strategic nuclear bombing. This meant that funding was pulled from the Navy and invested in the Air Force.


What was unique about the USS Enterprise?

The USS Enterprise ran a length of 1,123 ft. Even as future carriers surpassed her in mass, the Enterprise is still the longest aircraft carrier ever built.


Commissioned in 2017, what is the largest aircraft carrier in the world?

The USS Gerald R. Ford was the first aircraft carrier to incorporate the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System. The system acts as a catapult to launch planes from the carrier.


Explore More Quizzes

About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!