Franklin D.
Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum

USS Roosevelt
(DDG 80)

Speeches about the Navy

Executive Order 9096 | Navy Day Address

Executive Order 9096 Reorganizing the Navy Department and the Naval Service
March 12, 1942

By virtue of the authority vested in me by Title I of the First War Powers Act, 1941, approved December 18, 1941 (Public Law 354, 77th Congress), and other applicable statutes, and as Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy and as President of the United States, it is hereby ordered as follows:

1. The duties of the Commander in Chief, United States Fleet, and the duties of the Chief of Naval Operations, may be combined and devolve upon one officer who shall have the title "Commander in Chief, United States Fleet, and Chief of Naval Operations," and who shall be the principal naval adviser to the President on the conduct of the war, and the principal naval adviser and executive to the Secretary of the Navy on the conduct of the activities of the naval establishment. While so serving he shall have the rank and title of Admiral and shall receive the pay and allowances provided by law for an officer serving in the grade of Admiral.

2. As Commander in Chief, United States Fleet, the officer holding the combined offices as herein provided shall have supreme command of the operating forces comprising the several fleets, seagoing forces, and sea frontier forces of the United States Navy and shall be directly responsible, under the general direction of the Secretary of the Navy, to the President therefor.

3. The Staff of the Commander in Chief, United States Fleet, shall be composed of-

(a) A Chief of Staff, who shall while so serving have the rank, pay, and allowances of a Vice Admiral, and who, in the temporary absence or incapacity of the "Commander in Chief, United States Fleet, and Chief of Naval Operations," shall act as Commander in Chief, United States Fleet;

(b) Such deputy and assistant Chiefs of Staff as may be necessary; and

(c) Such other officers as may be appropriate and necessary to enable the "Commander in Chief, United States Fleet, and Chief of Naval Operations" to perform as Commander in Chief, United States Fleet, the duties prescribed in Executive Order No. 8984 of December 18, 1941.

4. As Chief of Naval Operations, the officer holding the combined offices as herein provided shall be charged, under the direction of the Secretary of the Navy, with the preparation, readiness, and logistic support of the operating forces comprising the several fleets, seagoing forces, and sea frontier forces of the United States Navy, and with the coordination and direction of effort to this end of the bureaus and offices of the Navy Department except such offices (other than bureaus) as the Secretary of the Navy may specifically exempt. Duties as Chief of Naval Operations shall be contributory to the discharge of the paramount duties of Commander in Chief, United States Fleet.

5. The staff of the Chief of Naval Operations shall be composed of -

(a) A Vice Chief of Naval Operations, who shall while so serving have the rank, pay, and allowances of a Vice Admiral. The Vice Chief of Naval Operations shall have all necessary authority for executing the plans and policies of the "Commander in Chief, United States Fleet, and Chief of Naval Operations" so far as pertains to the duties herein prescribed for the Chief of Naval Operations. In the temporary absence or incapacity of the "Commander in Chief, United States Fleet, and Chief of Naval Operations," he shall act as Chief of Naval Operations.

(b) An Assistant to the Chief of Naval Operations with the title of Sub Chief of Naval Operations, who shall have the rank of Rear Admiral and while so serving shall receive the pay and allowances of a Rear Admiral, upper half, and such additional assistant Chiefs of Naval Operations as may be required; and

(c) Such other officers as may be considered to be appropriate and necessary for the performance of the duties at present prescribed for the Chief of Naval Operations.

6. During the temporary absence of the Secretary of the Navy, the Under Secretary of the Navy, and the Assistant Secretaries of the Navy, the "Commander in Chief, United States Fleet, and Chief of Naval Operations" shall be next in succession to act as Secretary of the Navy. In the temporary. absence of all of these officers the Vice Chief of Naval Operations and the Chief of Staff, United States Fleet, respectively, shall be next in succession to act as Secretary of the Navy.

Address for Navy and Total Defense Day
October 27, 1941

Five months ago tonight I proclaimed to the American people the existence of a state of unlimited national emergency.

Since then much has happened. Our Army and Navy are temporarily in Iceland in the defense of the Western Hemisphere.

Hitler has attacked shipping in areas close to the Americas in the North and South Atlantic.

Many American-owned merchant ships have been sunk on the high seas. One American destroyer was attacked on September fourth. Another destroyer was attacked and hit on October seventeenth. Eleven brave and loyal men of our Navy were killed by the Nazis.

We have wished to avoid shooting. But the shooting has started. And history has recorded who fired the first shot. In the long run, however, all that will matter is who fired the last shot.

America has been attacked. The U.S.S. Kearny is not just a Navy ship. She belongs to every man, woman, and child in this Nation.

Illinois, Alabama, California, North Carolina, Ohio, Louisiana, Texas, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arkansas, New York, and Virginia- those are the home states of the honored dead and wounded of the Kearny. Hitler's torpedo was directed at every American, whether he lives on our sea coasts or in the innermost part of the country, far from the seas and far from the guns and tanks of the marching hordes of would-be conquerors of the world.

The purpose of Hitler's attack was to frighten the American people off the high seas -- to force us to make a trembling retreat. This is not the first time that he has misjudged the American spirit. That spirit is now aroused.

If our national policy were to be dominated by the fear of shooting, then all of our ships and those of our sister Republics would have to be tied up in home harbors. Our Navy would have to remain respectfully -- abjectly -- behind any line which Hitler might decree on any ocean as his own dictated version of his own war zone.

Naturally we reject that absurd and insulting suggestion. We reject it because of our own self-interest, because of our own self-respect, and because, most of all, of our own good faith. Freedom of the seas is now, as it has always been, a fundamental policy of your Government and mine.

Hitler has often protested that his plans for conquest do not extend across the Atlantic Ocean. His submarines and raiders prove otherwise. So does the entire design of his new world order.

For example, I have in my possession a secret map made in Germany by Hitler's Government -- by the planners of the new world order. It is a map of South America and a part of Central America, as Hitler proposes to reorganize it. Today in this area there are fourteen separate countries. But the geographical experts of Berlin have ruthlessly obliterated all existing boundary lines; they have divided South America into five vassal states, bringing the whole continent under their domination. And they have also so arranged it that the territory of one of these new puppet states includes the Republic of Panama and our great life line -- the Panama Canal.

That is his plan. It will never go into effect.

This map, my friends, makes clear the Nazi design not only against South America but against the United States as well.

Your Government has in its possession another document, made in Germany by Hitler's Government. It is a detailed plan, which, for obvious reasons, the Nazis did not wish and do not wish to publicize just yet, but which they are ready to impose, a little later, on a dominated world -- if Hitler wins. It is a plan 'to abolish all existing religions- Catholic, Protestant, Mohammedan, Hindu, Buddhist, and Jewish alike. The property of all churches will be seized by the Reich and its puppets. The cross and all other symbols of religion are to be forbidden. The clergy are to be forever liquidated, silenced under penalty of the concentration camps, where even now so many fearless men are being tortured because they have placed God above Hitler.

In the place of the churches of our civilization, there is to be set up an International Nazi Church- a church which will be served by orators sent out by the Nazi Government. And in the place of the Bible, the words of Mein Kampf will be imposed and enforced as Holy Writ. And in the place of the cross of Christ will be put two symbols -- the swastika and the naked sword.

The god of Blood and Iron will take the place of the God of Love and Mercy. Let us well ponder that statement which I have made tonight.

These grim truths which I have told you of the present and future plans of Hitlerism will of course be hotly denied tonight and tomorrow in the controlled press and radio of the Axis powers. And some Americans -- not many- will continue to insist that Hitler's plans need not worry us -- that we should not concern ourselves with anything that goes on beyond rifle shot of our own shores.

The protestations of these few American citizens will, as usual, be paraded with applause through the Axis press and radio during the next few days, in an effort to convince the world that the majority of Americans are opposed to their duly chosen Government, and in reality are only waiting to jump on Hitler's band wagon when it comes this way.

The motive of such Americans is not the point at issue. The fact is that Nazi propaganda continues in desperation to seize upon such isolated statements as proof of American disunity.

The Nazis have made up their own list of modern American heroes. It is, fortunately, a short list. I am glad that it does not contain my name.

All of us Americans, of all opinions, in the last analysis are faced with the choice between the kind of world we want to live in and the kind of world which Hitler and his hordes would impose upon us.

None of us wants to burrow under the ground and live in total darkness like a comfortable mole.

The forward march of Hitler and of Hitlerism can be stopped - and it will be stopped.

Very simply and very bluntly -- we are pledged to pull our own oar in the destruction of Hitlerism.

And when we have helped to end the curse of Hitlerism we shall help to establish a new peace which will give to decent people everywhere a better chance to live and prosper in security and in freedom and in faith.

Every day that passes we are producing and providing more and more arms for the men who are fighting on actual battlefronts. That is our primary task.

And it is the Nation's will that these vital arms and supplies of all kinds shall neither be locked up in American harbors nor sent to the bottom of the sea. It is the Nation's will that America shall deliver the goods. In open defiance of that will, our ships have been sunk and our sailors have been killed.

I say that we do not propose to take this lying down.

That determination of ours not to take it lying down has been expressed in the orders to the American Navy to shoot on sight. Those orders stand.

Furthermore, the House of Representatives has already voted to amend a part of the Neutrality Act of 1937, today outmoded by force of violent circumstances. The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations has also recommended the elimination of other hamstringing provisions in that Act. That is the course of honesty and of realism.

Our American merchant ships must be armed to defend themselves against the rattlesnakes of the sea.

Our American merchant ships must be free to carry our American goods into the harbors of our friends.

Our American merchant ships must be protected by our American Navy.

In the light of a good many years of personal experience, I think that it can be said that it can never be doubted that the goods will be delivered by this Nation, whose Navy believes in the tradition of "Damn the torpedoes; full speed ahead!"

Our Nation will and must speak from every assembly line, from every coal mine -- the all-inclusive whole of our vast industrial machine. Our factories and our shipyards are constantly expanding. Our output must be multiplied.

That output cannot be hampered by the selfish obstruction of any small but dangerous minority of industrial managers who perhaps hold out for extra profits, or for "business as usual." And it cannot be hampered by the selfish obstruction of a small but dangerous minority of labor leaders who are a menace -- for labor as a whole knows that that small minority is a menace- to the true cause of labor itself, as well as to the Nation as a whole.

The lines of our essential defense now cover all the seas; and to meet the extraordinary demands of today and tomorrow our Navy grows to unprecedented size. Our Navy is ready for action. Indeed, units of it in the Atlantic patrol are in action. Its officers and men need no praise from me.

Our new Army is steadily developing the strength needed to withstand the aggressors. Our soldiers of today are worthy of the proudest traditions of the United States Army. But traditions cannot shoot down dive bombers or destroy tanks. That is why we must and shall provide, for every one of our soldiers, equipment and weapons--not merely as good but better than that of any other army on earth. And we are doing that right now.

For this -- and all of this -- is what we mean by total national defense.

The first objective of that defense is to stop Hitler. He can be stopped and can be compelled to dig in. And that will be the beginning of the end of his downfall, because dictatorship of the Hitler type can live only through continuing victories and increasing conquests.

The facts of the year 1918 are proof that a mighty German army and a tired German people can crumble rapidly and go to pieces when they are faced with successful resistance.

Nobody who admires qualities of courage and endurance can fail to be stirred by the full-fledged resistance of the Russian people. The Russians are fighting for their own soil and their own homes. Russia needs all kinds of help- planes, and tanks, and guns, and medical supplies and other aids -- toward the successful defense against the invaders. From the United States and from Britain, she is getting great quantities of these essential supplies. But the needs of her huge armies will continue- and our help and British help will also continue!

The other day the Secretary of State of the United States was asked by a Senator to justify our giving aid to Russia. His reply was: "The answer to that, Senator, depends on how anxious a person is to stop and to destroy the march of Hitler in his conquest of the world. If he were anxious enough to defeat Hitler, he would not worry about who was helping to defeat him."

Upon our American production falls the colossal task of equipping our own armed forces, and helping to supply the British, the Russians, and the Chinese. In the performance of that task we dare not fail. And we will not fail.

It has not been easy for us Americans to adjust ourselves to the shocking realities of a world in which the principles of common humanity and common decency are being mowed down by the firing squads of the Gestapo. We have enjoyed many of God's blessings. We have lived in a broad and abundant land, and by our industry and productivity we have made it flourish.

There are those who say that our great good fortune has betrayed us -- that we are now no match for the regimented masses who have been trained in the Spartan ways of ruthless brutality. They say that we have grown fat, and flabby, and lazy -- and that we are doomed.

But those who say that know nothing of America or of American life.

They do not know that this land is great because it is a land of endless challenge. Our country was first populated, and it has been steadily developed, by men and women in whom there burned the spirit of adventure and restlessness and individual independence which will not tolerate oppression.

Ours has been a story of vigorous challenges which have been accepted and overcome- challenges of uncharted seas, of wild forests and desert plains, of raging floods and withering droughts, of foreign tyrants and domestic strife, of staggering problems social, economic, and physical; and we have come out of them the most powerful Nation -- and the freest -- in all of history.

Today in the face of this newest and greatest challenge of them all, we Americans have cleared our decks and taken our battle stations. We stand ready in the defense of our Nation and in the faith of our fathers to do what God has given us the power to see as our full duty.