The history of the Chaplain Corps of the U.S. Navy parallels the history of the Navy itself. During the past century-and-a-half, chaplains of the Navy have shared the hardships and rewards that come to other naval personnel and have ministered to these in many ways. The chronicle of the activities of these padres of the sea—representing many religions and denominations—began with the Continental Navy and continues to the present day.
Navy chaplains represent more than 100 faith groups and serve with the Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and Merchant Marines, inspiring hope, and strengthening spiritual well-being.
Celebrating the History and Heritage of Navy Chaplains
October 30, 1799: First chaplain to serve in the U.S. Navy, Chaplain William Balch, congregational Minister.
August 4, 1912: First Navy chaplain to serve exclusively with the Marine Corps, Chaplain J.F. Flemming.
October 30, 1917: First Jewish chaplain to be commissioned, Rabbi David Goldberg.
November 5, 1917: First Chief of Navy Chaplains, Chaplain John Frazier.
March 1943: First chaplain to serve with an operational Coast Guard unit, Chaplain Harlon Miller.
July 28, 1944: First African-American chaplain to be commissioned in the Navy, Chaplain James Brown.
July 2, 1973: First female chaplain to be commissioned in the DoD, Chaplain Dianna Pohlman.
August 20, 1998: First Muslim chaplain to be commissioned in the Navy, Chaplain Monje Malak Abd al-Muta’ Ali Noel Jr.