The United States Navy (USN) was born as the Continental Navy during the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783) and came to existence, in part, through the initiative of John Adams. From its meager beginnings, made up largely of converted merchant vessels, the U.S. Navy has since grown to become the largest sea-going fighting force in the world. It has taken part in all major American conflicts (as well as countless humanitarian efforts) throughout its existence, recording actions in the American Civil War (1861-1865), World War 1 (1914-1918) and World War 2 (1939-1945).
In the post-World War world, the U.S. Navy remained a critical component during the tumultuous Cold War (1947-1991) period and marked notable service in the Korean War (1950-1953), Vietnam War (1955-1975) and the 1991 Gulf War. More recently, the USN has committed to operations in Afghanistan (2001) and Iraq (2003) following the events of 9/11. U.S. COAST GUARD Ranks are presented as a separate listing here.
NOTE: The Five Star rank is generally reserved for wartime only and can also be used as an honorary rank.