The United States Navy was born as the Continental Navy during the American Revolutionary War and came to existence, in part, through the initiative of John Adams. From its meager beginnings, made up largely of converted merchant vessels, the US Navy has since grown to become the largest sea-going fighting force in the world, staffed with over 430,000 personnel, 3,700 aircraft and nearly 300 surface and underwater vessels (2012). The US Navy maintains the largest fleet of aircraft carriers in the world and sports some 75 powerful nuclear-powered missile submarines.
The US Navy has taken part in all major American conflicts as well as many humanitarian efforts throughout her existence. Among her notable participation, the USN has served throughout the American Civil War, World War 1 and World War 2 - with participation of her aircraft carriers in the latter proving critical to the outcome of the war in the Pacific. In the post-World War world, the US Navy became a critical participant during the tumultuous Cold War, seeing actions in the Korean War, Vietnam War and the 1991 Gulf War while, more recently, supporting operations across Afghanistan and Iraq.