Philippine Navy Day Date in the current year: May 20, 2024

Philippine Navy Day Philippine Navy Day (Araw ng Hukbong Dagat ng Pilipinas) is an annual working holiday commemorating the founding anniversary of the Philippine Navy. It is celebrated on May 20.

The history of naval warfare in the Philippines can be traced back to pre-colonial times: the ancient indigenous peoples used several types of traditional boats for travel, trade, communication, piracy, and warfare prior to the arrival of the Spaniards in the archipelago. For example, there are records of the Luzones people serving as mercenaries in Islamic fleets. After the arrival of Europeans, the locals engaged in a number of naval battles with the colonizers; one of such battles was the 1571 Battle of Bangkusay.

During the Spanish period, the Spanish Navy was entirely responsible for defending the archipelago, conducting maritime policing, and providing naval logistics. By the 19th century, the crews on many ships were composed of mixed Spanish and Filipino personnel, and there were even all-Filipino volunteer battalions. However, the majority of naval officers were Spanish.

When the Philippine Revolution broke out in 1896, Filipinos serving in the Royal Spanish Navy mutinied and pledged allegiance to the Philippines. The adoption of the 1897 Constitution of Biak-na-Bato officially provided for the creation of the Philippine Navy. The Philippines obtained their first ship, a small pinnace from a Spanish cruiser sunk by the U.S. Navy, from the United States on May 1, 1898.

The Revolutionary Navy was officially founded on May 20, 1898 by General Emilio Aguinaldo. It was a small fleet composed of eight captured Spanish steam launches refitted with 9 cm guns. The fleet was later replenished with other vessels through a donation of five merchant ships and acquisition of the cargo steamship Compañía de Filipinas from Compañía General de Tabacos de Filipinas, which was renamed Filipinas and declared the flagship.

After the breakout of the Philippine-American War in 1899, the United States Navy started confiscating vessels flying the Philippine flag and imposed a naval blockade. When the Philippines lost the war and was occupied by the United States, the American colonial administration created the Bureau of the Coast Guard and Transportation for maintaining peace and order in the territorial waters. Eventually Filipinos were given the opportunity to enlist in the U.S. Navy.

When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, the United States withdrew the Asiatic Fleet that had provided naval protection to the Philippines, and the small Offshore Patrol remained the archipelago’s only defense from the Japanese. It helped evacuate government officials from Manila and conducted guerrilla attacks during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines.

The Offshore Patrol was officially reactivated after the liberation of the Philippines and eventually renamed the Philippine Naval Patrol. In 1951, President Elpidio Quirino officially re-designated the Naval Patrol as the Philippine Navy. Since its re-establishment, the Philippine Navy has participated in the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and several internal conflicts and territorial disputes with neighboring states.

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