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History / About The CNM

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History of the State Navy of Massachusetts, predecessor of the current

Colonial Navy of Massachusetts

The Massachusetts State Navy 1775-1781


In October of 1775 Massachusetts formed it’s own State Navy, one of 11 colonies to do so. First called the Massachusetts Colonial Navy and later referred to as the Massachusetts State Navy (MSN) was, by far, the largest Colonial force with over 41 warships including several heavy frigates and many auxiliary ships. It also issued Letters of Marque to 626 privateers essentially enlisting the service of their vessels in the fight with Britain. The MSN took, burned, or sunk more British ships then the German U-boats of either WWI or WWII and it took the first prize of the war off of Maine and the last prize of the war as well. Most of the Continental Army’s cannons and muskets where seized at sea from British merchant ships by the Colonial Navies. 

The Colonial Navy of Massachusetts 1967-Present


The Massachusetts Navy historically came into being in December 1775, but the modern organization was activated in December 1967 by an act of legislature by then Massachusetts Governor John Volpe.  The unit is officially recognized as the Colonial Navy of Massachusetts (C.N.M.), which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2017, and is designated as the official militia of the Commonwealth.  Part of that anniversary included a re-dedication in December 2017 of the C.N.M. and presentation of the unit's colors inside the State House in Boston, where the unit was recognized by Governor Charlie Baker, Representative Pat Haddad (Speaker Pro Tempore Massachusetts House of Representatives), Representatives Carole Fiola, Paul Schmid, and Steve Howitt, and Senator Michael Rodrigues.  Governor Baker even declared December 11, 2017 as Colonial Navy of Massachusetts Day in the Commonwealth.

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