Rhode Island Naval Militia

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The Rhode Island Naval Militia is the currently inactive naval militia of Rhode Island.[1] Along with the Rhode Island National Guard and the Rhode Island State Guard, it is one of the military forces available to the Governor of Rhode Island.


The Rhode Island Naval Militia traces its roots to the American Revolutionary War, when the Rhode Island State Navy was initiated with the commissioning of two sloops for the purpose of repelling HMS Rose from Rhode Island waters.[2]

In the 1890s, during the first decade of the invention of the modern naval militia, the Rhode Island Naval Militia was organized as a torpedo unit and frequently trained at the Navy's torpedo school on Coaster's Island near Newport.[3] The Rhode Island Naval Militia first saw combat during the Spanish–American War when one hundred forty two members of Rhode Island Naval Battalion were federalized and served alongside the United States Navy.[4]

USS Miantonomoh served briefly under the Rhode Island Naval Militia before her decommissioning in November 1895.[5] After being decommissioned on 8 October 1898, USS Kanawha was loaned to the Rhode Island Naval Militia on 12 December 1898; however, Kanawha was returned to the Navy on 12 August 1899 and transferred to the War Department.[6] In 1910, the naval militia was assigned USS Aileen.[7] By 1916, the naval militia maintained an aeronautic section.[8]


Naval militias are recognized under federal law and are equipped by the federal government, and therefore, membership requirements are partially set according to federal standards. Under 10 U.S. Code § 7854, in order to be eligible for access to "vessels, material, armament, equipment, and other facilities of the Navy and the Marine Corps available to the Navy Reserve and the Marine Corps Reserve", at least 95% of members of the naval militia must also be members of the United States Navy Reserve or the United States Marine Corps Reserve.[9]

Legal status

Naval militias of U.S. states are recognized as part of the organized militia of the United States under 10 U.S. Code §7851.[10] Rhode Island law also recognizes the Rhode Island Naval Militia as a component of the militia of Rhode Island.[1] Therefore, although inactive, an act of legislature by the Rhode Island General Assembly would return the Rhode Island Naval Militia to active service.

Legal protection

Under Rhode Island law, no employer may fire an employee due to the employee's membership in the Rhode Island Naval Militia, or due to their obligation to perform military service, or attempt to hinder their ability to perform military service. Nor may employers threaten or otherwise insinuate that an employee will suffer repercussions from the employer as a result of his or her service with the Rhode Island Naval Militia. Any employer or agent of an employer who is guilty of these offenses is guilty of a misdemeanor offense.[11]


  1. ^ "A Naval History of the American Revolution, Chapter II: Naval Administration and Organization". www.americanrevolution.org/. Retrieved 9 August 2015. 
  2. ^ Hart, Kevin R. "Toward a Citizen Sailor: The History of the Naval Militia Movement, 1888-1898". The California Military Museum Official Website. Retrieved 9 August 2015. 
  3. ^ "Spanish American War - RI Naval Militia in United States Service". Rhode Island Secretary of State Official Website. Retrieved 9 August 2015. 
  4. ^ McSherry, Patrick. "USS Miantonomoh". Retrieved 9 August 2015. 
  5. ^ "Kanawha II". Naval History and Heritage Command. Retrieved 9 August 2015. 
  6. ^ "New York Naval Militia History". New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs. Retrieved 9 August 2015. 
  7. ^ Naval Militia Cruises, 1916. U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 160. Retrieved 9 August 2015. 
  8. ^ "10 U.S. CODE § 7854 - AVAILABILITY OF MATERIAL FOR NAVAL MILITIA". https://www.law.cornell.edu/. Retrieved 9 August 2015.  External link in |website= (help)
  9. ^ "10 U.S. CODE § 7851 - COMPOSITION". https://www.law.cornell.edu/. Retrieved 9 August 2015.  External link in |website= (help)
  10. ^ "Chapter 30-11-2 - Discrimination in employment against members of militia". Justia. Retrieved 24 November 2017. 
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