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NEWS | July 1, 2024

Naval Sea Systems Command Celebrates 50 Years

By Naval Sea Systems Command Office of Corporate Communications

WASHINGTON – Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), responsible for the acquisition, construction, maintenance, and inactivation of ships, submarines, and combat systems for the U.S. Navy, celebrated its 50th anniversary July 1.

As the largest of the Navy’s six system commands, NAVSEA’s origins date back to 1794, when Commodore John Barry was charged with oversight of the construction of six 44-gun frigates and the responsibility to ensure that all business "harmonized and conformed" with the public's interest. To build and maintain the fleet, the newly formed Navy Department established shipyards across the eastern seaboard, including the Washington Navy Yard, where NAVSEA headquarters sits today.

Since then, various organizations were established to oversee design, construction and repair of ships and ordnance. Ultimately, in 1974 with the merger of the Naval Ship Systems Command (NAVSHIPS) and the Naval Ordnance Systems Command (NAVORD), NAVSEA was formed with then-Vice Adm. Robert C. Gooding as the first NAVSEA commander.

The impetus for merging NAVSHIPS with NAVORD came after the U.S. Navy became a key part of America’s nuclear deterrence following the first ballistic missile launch from a submerged submarine. Using the skipjack-class as the base design, naval engineers lengthened the hull to accommodate the Polaris missile system, demonstrating a need for a holistic approach to ship and ordnance design.

Vice Adm. Jim Downey, commander, Naval Sea Systems Command, attributes NAVSEA’s success – past and present – to a team of talented personnel who are committed to ensuring the U.S. Navy has the reliable combat capability needed to meet its mission sets.

“Today our team spans 42 locations worldwide, working together to continue the critical work of those who served before us to generate readiness and warfighting capability for our Sailors and Marines,” said Downey. “Working together our team has delivered incredible technological advances – from Nimitz to Ford and Spruance to Arleigh Burke – enabling our Navy to meet its mission to defend freedom, preserve economic prosperity, and keep the seas open and free.”

Through the span of 50 years, NAVSEA has maintained its commitment to the public and the fleet, continually translating warfighting requirements into combat capability to enable our nation and its partners to project presence in peace, power in war, and assured access at all times.   With the delivery of over 20 new ship classes of battle force ships over the past five decades, NAVSEA has been the powerful “Force Behind the Fleet.”

Today NAVSEA has a workforce of nearly 90,000 civilian and military personnel spanning multiple directorates, field activities, and program executive offices. A diverse command, NAVSEA hosts careers in acquisition and contracts, administration and program management, business and finance, engineering, IT and cybersecurity, science, mathematics, trades, and more.  

To read more about NAVSEA’s accomplishments and its mission, visit: To join our team, visit: