Mineman 2nd Class Freddie Parson, from Carpentersville, Ill., (Left), and Cmdr. Clayton Beas, from Bloomington, Calif.,(Right) commanding officer of Independence-variant littoral combat ship USS Charleston (LCS 18), cut a cake during a celebration of the 246th birthday of the United States Navy. Charleston, part of Destroyer Squadron Seven, is on a rotational deployment in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operation to enhance interoperability with partners and serve as a ready-response force in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ryan M. Breeden/released).

With more than 90 percent of all trade traveling by sea, and 95 percent of the world’s international phone and internet traffic carried through fiber optic cables lying on the ocean floor, Navy officials continue to emphasize that the prosperity and security of the United States is directly linked to a strong and ready Navy.