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The U.S. Navy boasts the world’s largest fleet with 288 warships and submarines (as of March 2011) and more than 3,700 aircraft. Slightly more than 320,000 personnel serve on active duty in the navy and roughly another 100,000 are in the Reserves. It is the only navy with global reach, able to project power to any part of the world. The U.S. Marine Corps, which is also administered by the Navy Department, includes slightly more than 200,000 active-duty personnel and about 40,000 reservists. This entry discusses the history of the U.S. Navy, including its wartime and peacetime missions and the role of the navy today.

Compared with the U.S. Army, and later the U.S. Air Force, peacetime operations have significantly shaped the navy. Its ships policed ...

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