Prove You're a Navy Expert by Acing This Quiz


By: Bambi Turner

6 Min Quiz

Image: Arsenik / E+ / Getty Images

About This Quiz

The United States Navy is not only the world's largest and most powerful Navy, but also happens to be the second largest air force in the world after America's own Air Force branch. Not bad for a country that's only around 250 years old! Especially when you consider that nations have been engaging in naval battles since at least the days of the ancient Egyptians, and long before Columbus ever even thought about sailing to a new world.

In less than three centuries, the U.S. has commissioned nearly 300 of the most advanced vessels at sea, including a staggering 11 of the 41 active aircraft carriers used throughout the world. Combine that with several thousand aircraft, 320,000 active duty members and a reserve force of 100,000, and it's clear that the Navy is a force to be reckoned with at sea, on land and in the air.

Whether you've once donned the uniform of a Navy sailor or never stepped foot on a boat at all, this quiz will test your knowledge of America's Navy, from its 18th century origins to the modern era. Think you know everything about the vessels, traditions and events that characterize the Navy? Prove it with this quiz!

Which 18th century war resulted in the creation of the U.S. Navy?

The British had the strongest Navy in the world when the American colonists became engaged in what would eventually be known as the American Revolution. In 1775, Congress authorized the purchase of two ships, which formed the Continental Navy. A decade after the war, the Department of the Navy was established, mostly to keep pirates at bay.


Move over Marines; the Navy has its own official motto, Semper fortis. Do you know what this translates to in English?

The official motto of the U.S. Navy is "Semper fortis," or "Always Courageous." The Navy also uses the oft-repeated unofficial motto "Non sibi sed patriae," or "Not for self, but for country."


You know that SEALs are the toughest of them all, but do you know what SEAL stands for?

Introduced in 1962, the U.S. Navy Sea, Air and Land teams, or SEALs, are a special operations team known for their extreme training and skill. They spend more than 7 months undergoing advanced training to test every aspect of their physical and mental abilities.


Which city is home to the U.S. Naval Academy, an institution dedicated to training future Naval officers?

Every year more than 1,200 plebes head to Annapolis, MD to start their studies at the U.S. Naval Academy. Founded in 1845, the school trains future officers for Naval careers. Admission is highly competitive, and students must secure a recommendation from a member of Congress to be accepted to the school.


The U.S. Navy emerged victorious from one of the largest naval battles in history at Leyte Gulf in 1944. Do you know where this battle took place?

The largest battle in WWII and one of the largest naval battles in history took place in October 1944 at Leyte Gulf in the Philippines. The U.S. enjoyed a decisive victory which decimated Japanese forces and gave the Allies control of the Pacific front for the remainder of WWII.


What year did the first Army/Navy game, one of the longest-running rivalries in football, take place?

The U.S. Military Academy of West Point took on the U.S. Naval Academy of Annapolis for the first time in 1890. The intense, yet friendly football rivalry has been televised since 1945, and each game ends with the teams singing each others' alma mater.


Which date will live in infamy as the day when Japan executed a devastating attack on an American naval base at Pearl Harbor?

On Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese forced launched a major attack on Pearl Harbor near Honolulu. The attacks damaged 8 battleships and killed 2,400 seamen. President Roosevelt immediately declared war on Japan, thrusting the U.S. into the horrors of WWII.


Which of these nicknames is used for the Navy's submarine branch?

Believe it or not, the Navy has been using submarines since way back in 1775. The first Navy sub used in combat was named the Turtle, and looked more like a diving bell than a modern sub. Today all Navy submarine sailors, known as the Silent Service, serve aboard fully nuclear vessels.


Hey, everyone has to start somewhere. What's the entry-level rank for a newly enlisted member of the Navy?

All newly enlisted Navy members are known as seamen. They start at the rank (known in the Navy as rate) of Seaman Recruit before progressing to Seaman Apprentice and then full-fledged Seaman. After that, these enlistees move on to Petty Officer ratings.


The 20th century brought some changes to the Navy, including newly formed roles for women. What percentage of active duty members today are female?

As far back as the Civil War, women were permitted to serve as nurses in the Navy, but it wasn't until 1917 that they were permitted to enlist, and women weren't allowed to serve on submarines until 2015. By 2018, roughly 20 percent of the Navy was made up of females.


What name is given to the Navy's group of high-flying acrobatic planes, which put on much-anticipated shows across the U.S. each year?

When you're one of the world's best pilots sitting in one of the fastest jets on the planet, it's only natural to want to show off a little. Elite Navy pilots can try out for the Blue Angels, a team of flyers who have been putting on shows for the public since the 1940s.


Which U.S. state is home to the Navy's largest base in the port city of Norfolk, which sailors have been calling home since 1917?

Norfolk is situated in Virginia's southeast corner, and is part of the largest Hampton Roads area. Since 1917, it's also been home to the Norfolk Naval Station. Its four miles of waterfront makes it one of the world's largest naval bases, with space for 75 mega-sized ships.


Which 1986 Tom Cruise flick was inspired by a real-life naval aviator and flight officer program?

Tom Cruise flew high as elite Navy flier Maverick in the 1986 film "Top Gun." Today this exclusive Navy training program for flight officers and aviators is known as the Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor program, or SFTI. In operation since the '60s, it trains instructors to teach fighter jet flying and navigational skills.


What year did the U.S. Navy fight to victory at the Battle of Midway, a critical turning point in WWII?

A tiny Pacific island called Midway was the site of a brutal sea battle between Japan and the U.S. in June 1942, just 6 months after Pearl Harbor. The U.S. completely trounced the Japanese navy, marking a turning point in WWII.


The show "NCIS" has been a top draw since 2003. What does the N in NCIS stand for?

Believe it or not, the Navy has its very own law enforcement agency known as the Naval Criminal Investigations Service. Immortalized on television with the series "NCIS," itself a spin-off of "JAG," the real NCIS consists of around 2,500 mostly civilian employees responsible for prosecuting crimes involving the Navy and Marines.


Which group of U.S. naval warships included the 51 ships of the Oliver Hazard Petty class?

Frigates are a class of warships that are smaller than destroyers, and are designed to protect other ships and engage in anti-submarine tactics. They are famous for the 50+ ships of the Oliver Hazard Perry class, the last of which was decommissioned in 2015.


Starting in 2004, the Navy commissioned the first of its fast-attack, nuclear-powered submarines. What is this class of subs called?

The SSN Virginia was the first of more than 16 Virginia class attack submarines commissioned since 2004. Designed to seek and destroy engine submarines and ships, the Virginia class is equipped with Tomahawk missiles and can stay below the sea indefinitely as long as food supplies are adequate.


Which of these is the highest possible rank for a naval officer during a period of war?

While admiral is the highest ranking naval officer position during periods of peace, the Navy reserves the title of fleet admiral for the top brass during wartime. This rank was last used during WWII, with Navy legends like Chester Nimitz and William Halsey Jr. holding the title.


Which famous 1864 battle resulted in Admiral David Farragut uttering the famous line, "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead?"

In what is probably the most famous quote ever associated with the U.S. Navy, First Admiral David Farragut doubled down during the Civil War Battle of Mobile Bay, ordering his men to forge ahead despite heavy fire. Farragut became a midshipman at the age of nine, and was so revered that he served as a pallbearer for President Abraham Lincoln.


What year did the Navy commission its very first aircraft carrier, the USS Langley?

It wasn't long after the Wright Brothers made their first flights that the Navy recognized the need for aircraft carriers at sea. They commissioned the USS Langley as America's first aircraft carrier in 1920. Capable of carrying 36 aircraft, she was scuttled after severe damage in 1942.


Do you know what people are talking about if they mention the Naval Jack?

The Naval Jack is a maritime flag flown aboard U.S. Navy vessels. For most of U.S. history, Navy ships flew a blue flag with white stars. Since the September 11th attacks, the Jack features red and white stripes with a slithering snake and the words "Don't tread on me."


Which president, who lost his life in Dallas in '63, was the first Commander in Chief to serve in the Navy?

While the majority of presidents had a history of military service, it wasn't until JFK that a former Navy sailor settled into the White House. Kennedy famously helped his men survive after their vessel was destroyed by Japanese forces in 1943, earning the future president a Purple Heart.


Which class of aircraft carriers replaced the Nimitz class when the namesake vessel was launched in 2017?

The Navy's Nimitz class of supercarriers includes some of the most advanced and largest aircraft carriers on the planet. Nimitz was replaced by a whole new line of ships when the Gerald R. Ford, scheduled to be the first in its class, was launched in 2017.


How do Navy brass select which sailors will serve on submarines?

Life on a submarine can be tough, even for sailors accustomed to months at sea. To ensure they only assign willing participants to subs, Navy officers limit submarine sailors to those who volunteer for the position.


The old phrase "Mind your p's and q's" actually originated with the Navy. What does this phrase refer to?

In the early days of the Navy, sailors would go ashore and order beers from local barkeeps, who would keep track of each pint or quart ordered so he could collect the cash on payday. Naval wisdom encouraged sailors to mind their p's and q's, pints and quarts, by staying sober enough to at least keep track of their consumption.


Which of these jobs are you most likely to have in the Navy if you're part of the Seabees?

The U.S. Naval Construction Battalions, C.B.'s, or Seabees, are responsible for Navy-related construction jobs. Founded in 1942, their motto is "Contruimus Batuimus," or "We build, we fight."


Which infamous criminal was buried at sea from the decks of the USS Carl Vinson in 2011?

Named for a U.S. congressman from Georgia, the USS Carl Vinson was the site of a pair of unusual events in 2011. First, terrorist Osama bin Laden was buried at sea from the carrier's deck. Later that year, the ship hosted the first NCAA basketball game at sea.


The USS Arizona wasn't the only Navy vessel destroyed at Pearl Harbor in 1941. How many battleships sank that day?

The Japanese struck eight American battleships at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. Four ships, the USS Arizona, Oklahoma, West Virginia and California, all sank that day. Four more were damaged, but stayed afloat.


What kind of vessels are the Navy's Arleigh Burke class of ships?

The Navy's Arleigh Burke vessels are guided missile destroyers that rank among the largest destroyer ships on Earth. First commissioned in 1991, more than 60 ships in this class were completed by 2018.


The U.S. Navy started with just six wooden ships way back in the 1700s. Which of these is the only one still floating today?

The newly formed Navy commissioned six ships in the 1790s, including the USS Constitution. Nicknamed Old Ironsides, the Constitution is the only one of these six ships still floating, and serves as a museum in Massachusetts.


The Naval Act of 1916 shaped the Navy into what it is today. Which nickname is often used to refer to this Act?

In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson promised to build the U.S. Navy into the greatest navy in the world. Congress quickly signed the Naval Act of 1916 in response. Also known as the Big Navy Act, this action devoted hundreds of millions to expanding the Navy and making it more powerful than any other on the planet.


The first vessel in this class, the largest class of attack submarines on Earth, was commissioned in 1976. Can you name this class of Navy subs?

The USS Los Angeles was commissioned in 1976 and became the first of more than 60 submarines within the Los Angeles class. Also known as the 688 class, more than half of all attack submarines active in 2018 are part of this group.


Do you know when the Navy Reserves were founded?

Not every brave sailor who fights for the U.S. Navy can fight full-time. Some serve just one weekend a month and two weeks a year as part of the Navy Reserves, which were founded back in 1915 as WWI dawned.


Can you remember the name of the Navy's first nuclear-powered sub, which was commissioned in the '50s?

Sharing a name with the vessel from "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea," the Nautilus became the Navy's first nuclear-powered submarine when it was commissioned in 1954. Since 1982, it's served as a museum and historical landmark in Groton, Connecticut.


Which of these is the primary job of the mighty Avenger class ships?

The Avenger class ships are designed to remove and disable enemy mines that have been left in the sea. The class consists of 14 ships built between 1987 and 1994, all of which have tough names like Defender, Gladiator, Warrior and Devastator.


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