5 US states that maintain naval militias - We Are The Mighty

5 US states that maintain naval militias

The different levels of government in the United States are often overlooked and the expanded influence of the federal government can overshadow the authority of individual states. Many Americans may be surprised to learn that 25 states and the District of Columbia authorize a state-run naval militia but do not have one active. However, there are currently five states that do maintain a naval militia. Working in conjunction with federal and National Guard forces, these state militias provide vital assistance to their state’s citizens during emergencies.


5 US states that maintain naval militias
The AKNM Logo (Alaska Naval Militia)

The Alaska Naval Militia was established in 1984 and focuses on four major areas. First, the AKNM provides comprehensive medical support, provided by medical, nursing, and paramedical personnel. Second, it specializes in cargo handling, with an emphasis on ordnance, provided by trained stevedores, cargo handlers, and safety officers. Third, the naval militia conducts route reconnaissance and port security, provided by Marines trained in SOF skills and associated field corpsmen. Finally, the AKNM can facilitate tactical construction, security support, and basic services operations, provided by construction personnel and engineers. In 1989, the AKNM was mobilized to assist in recovery operations following the Exxon Valdez oil spill. In 2019, members of the AKNM deployed to southern Alaska to help fight the Swan Lake Fire. In March 2020, the AKNM was again called upon to help the state’s response to the COVID-19 epidemic.


5 US states that maintain naval militias
Cal Guard Maritime members conduct waterborne training (Cal Guard)

California’s State Guard maintains a Maritime Component in the California Naval Militia. Formed in 1891, the militia grew to consist of many ships and sailors along the state’s coast from San Diego to Eureka. Members of the CNM were provided by the state to the US Navy to serve in the Spanish-American War and WWI. After the First World War, the militia was inactive until 1976 when it was reformed. Until 2017, the California Naval Militia even consisted of lawyers and strategists who provided the governor with advice and legal expertise. Cal Guard’s Maritime Component specializes in coastal and riverine operations.

New York

5 US states that maintain naval militias
A New York Naval Militia boat sails past the Statue of Liberty (New York National Guard)

New York’s Naval Militia was first organized as a Provisional Naval Battalion in 1889. It was formally mustered into State service as the First Battalion, Naval Reserve Artillery on June 23, 1891. Just one year later, the New York Naval Militia was called upon to protect steamship passengers during the 1892 cholera quarantine at Fire Island. During the Spanish-American War, New York Naval Militiamen crewed two auxiliary cruisers that fought at the Battle of Santiago de Cuba and conducted maritime patrols of New York Harbor. The naval militia went on to serve during WWI, WWII, and even the Korean War. In the aftermath of 9/11, the militia was activated to aid in rescue and recovery efforts. Naval militia members also responded to Hurricane Irene in 2011, Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the Buffalo snowstorm of 2014, and the Lake Ontario floodings in 2017 and 2019. In March 2020, the NYNM was activated again to assist the state’s efforts in combating COVID-19.


5 US states that maintain naval militias
An ONM patrol boat on Lake Erie (Ohio Naval Militia)

The Ohio Naval Militia was originally formed as a Naval Brigade of two battalions under the National Guard of Ohio. In 1898, at the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, the brigade was reorganized as the Ohio Naval Militia and fought in the war as part of the 10th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. The ONM served during WWI and WWII but was deactivated in 1947. On November 1, 1977, the ONM was reactivated. Since then, its active mission is to patrol the government impact area off Camp Perry in Lake Erie where state and federal military units perform weapons qualifications. The ONM can also be called upon to assist during natural disasters and other emergencies. In 2020, the ONM was activated along with the Ohio National Guard and Military Reserve to support Operation Steady Resolve, the National Guard’s mission to combat COVID-19.

South Carolina

5 US states that maintain naval militias
The SCNM insignia (South Carolina Naval Militia)

South Carolina’s Naval Militia traces its roots back to the Revolutionary War where naval components of the state’s militia fought against the British. SCNM sailors served during the Spanish-American War where they crewed US Navy ships and manned coastal artillery batteries in Port Royal. The naval militia was disbanded following the creation of the US Naval Reserves, but was reformed in 2003 as a component of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division. The SCNM also encompasses a Merchant Marine division.

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