Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Navy Birthday Commemoration

Amplifying Information

Mission: Navy commands will plan and execute U.S. Navy birthday commemorations in a manner consistent with applicable policy, regulations, and laws. Each year, they will synchronize their efforts in celebrating the Navy's birthday to gain the maximum institutional benefit for internal and external audiences. For the purpose of the effort, institutional benefit includes:

  • Increased awareness and support for the U.S. Navy.

  • Enhanced appreciation of Navy missions, and history and heritage for Sailors, former Sailors, and their families. 

To the maximum extent possible, fleet Navy birthday events are to be synchronized with National Capital Region (NCR) events. For optimal sequencing, all Navy birthday ceremonies (including those associated with Navy birthday balls) should, to the maximum extent possible, be planned to execute prior to or the same day as the NCR Navy birthday ball. 

Per OPNAVINST 5726.8B (Outreach: America’s Navy, pdf) and to the extent feasible, Navy birthday events should leverage tours of Navy installations, fitness events, U.S. Navy Band performances, Navy birthday ceremonies, Navy birthday balls, Navy heritage celebrations, and similar events to raise awareness of our Navy birthday, history, and heritage. Paragraph 0507 of SECNAVINST 5720.44C (Department of the Navy Public Affairs Policy and Regulations, pdf) provides guidance concerning public engagement events appropriate for commemoration of our Navy’s birthday. 

Official and unofficial Navy birthday related events. The annual Navy birthday planning order announcing the commemoration constitutes express authorization for official Navy birthday commemoration ceremonies to be held in connection with unofficial Navy birthday balls and similar social events (i.e., in a "two-tiered" fashion) where feasible, and to the extent consistent with law and regulation. A "two-tiered" approach may be employed to better leverage official engagement opportunities associated with certain unofficial Navy birthday-related events and allow for more flexibility in unit-level planning of official evolutions. 

Official Navy birthday commemoration ceremonies. Official Navy birthday commemoration ceremonies directly support the mission of the U.S. Navy. They are authorized on a stand-alone basis (e.g., a ceremony onboard a Navy installation) as well as when held in conjunction with unofficial Navy birthday balls and similar social events. Official Navy birthday ceremonies held in conjunction with unofficial Navy birthday balls and similar social events will normally follow a "two-tiered" sequence: Tier 1 (official Navy birthday commemoration ceremony) followed by Tier 2 (unofficial Navy birthday ball or similar social event). Official Navy birthday commemoration ceremonies often include (subject to availability) a Navy color guard, a performance by a Navy band (for ceremonial music only), a presentation or pageant commemorating the Navy's birthday and mission, and appropriate guest of honor remarks. Active unit level planning, management, and execution efforts in support of official Navy birthday commemoration ceremonies are authorized in a manner consistent with mission, resource, and legal constraints. These efforts may include provision of the following in support of official ceremony requirements: security, transportation of ceremony participants, ceremony photography, informational notifications via official military information channels, audio /visual support, and other appropriate logistical support required for the official ceremony. Official Navy birthday commemoration ceremonies are to be conducted in a manner consistent with applicable mission, resource, and legal constraints. 

Unofficial Navy birthday balls and similar social functions. Though sometimes held in conjunction with an official Navy birthday commemoration ceremony, Navy birthday balls and similar social events are traditionally organized by groups of Sailors acting in an unofficial capacity or other non-federal entities (NFE) chartered to provide support to the military and/or its service members. These events normally involve an invited Navy speaker or guest of honor, dinner, musical entertainment, dancing, refreshments, and other social activities. Navy birthday balls are normally supported through NFE-organized ticket sales to attendees, though they may also be supported by appropriate NFE fundraising activities, and non-appropriated funds (NAF), if available and authorized by law and policy. While Navy birthday balls involve celebrations of the Navy's birthday, history, and heritage, they are not official Navy events. Given that Navy birthday balls and similar social events involve celebrations of the Navy's mission and heritage and are normally attended by a broad cross section of active duty and civilian Navy personnel and their families as well as members of local Navy host communities, they often afford important Navy engagement opportunities. Therefore, the Navy may provide limited logistical support to unofficial Navy birthday balls (e.g., official speakers and notifications to military personnel through military information channels) as consistent with DOD 5500.7-R (Joint Ethics Regulation, pdf). 

Resource and funding constraints. It is important that participation of Navy personnel and use of Navy resources in support of Navy birthday-related events receive appropriate prior review to determine the nature of the event (e.g., official or unofficial) and to further ensure that any use of official time and appropriated and/or non-appropriated funds employed in support are consistent with fiscal and standards of conduct requirements. Review by servicing legal counsel of the unit planning and executing the event is advised. Appropriated funds are generally unavailable for unofficial events and may not be used for feeding and entertainment of Navy and/or other persons absent express statutory authority. Any fundraising and other similar activities must comply with the Joint Ethics Regulation and Title 5, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 2635 (Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch, pdf). Gift acceptance by Navy personnel must also comply with DOD Joint Ethics Regulations and Title 5, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 2635, or SECNAVINST 4001.2K (Acceptance of Gifts, pdf) and OPNAVINST 4001.1F (Acceptance of Gifts, pdf) as applicable. CNICINST 1710.3 (Operation of Morale, Welfare and Recreation Programs, pdf) contains policy on MWR support to Navy birthday celebrations, including authorization of limited MWR NAF via Navy region and installation commanders in certain cases. 

Per current DOD public affairs outreach guidance, funding of outreach events should come from within existing programmed and budgeted resources and must be consistent with applicable law and policy. Individual commands are responsible for funding all costs and ensuring judiciousness in the use of appropriated funds. The current Navy Community Outreach Plan (typically released as a NAVADMIN in December) provides additional community outreach guidance and funding limitations. 

Lessons learned from previous commemorations are an important tool to event planners. It is essential that all commands planning and executing Navy birthday events develop measures of effectiveness and performance for activities associated with their events and then report those outcomes to the Naval History and Heritage Command, which will compile those lessons and make them available when complete. The Navy birthday planning order contains deadlines for lessons learned and after-action submissions.

Published: Tue Aug 27 15:46:46 EDT 2019