460. Navy Families

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Level: Hangar Deck

Read directions to HUP Helicopter


When one member of a family joins the Navy, their entire family joins the Navy.

Video: Aviators’ Families

Go to transcript

For an audio-described version, use the video below

Collection Connection

ntrepid Plan of the Day outlining instructions and schedule for the 1972 Dependents’ Day Cruise. The Plan of the Day is printed over a red monochrome photo of families waiting on a pier for the ship to arrive.
Plan of the Day, Dependents’ Cruise, 1972

The Navy provides opportunities for families to visit their loved ones’ ships. USS Intrepid hosted a number of dependents’ cruises. These one-day cruises were a rare opportunity for parents, spouses and children to see where their loved one lived and worked for many months at sea. This plan of the day instructs the crew on how to dress for the occasion—and gives the visitors some (cheeky) wardrobe suggestions too. 

Collection of the Intrepid Museum. Gift of Henry Chevalier. A2017.65

Learn More: Base of Support

While Navy families live across the country, the largest concentration of Navy families are in and around Navy bases. Families living near base have access to additional support from the military and the society of other Navy families.

After World War II, USS Intrepid had two home ports: Norfolk, Virginia (1954–1969) and Quonset Point, Rhode Island (1969–1974). USS Growler was stationed at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii. 

Larger bases offer medical clinics, childcare, recreation facilities and grocery stores. Service members and their spouses and children are prioritized for on-base housing, but supplies are limited. For families who aren’t selected, finding decent housing off-base is challenging. Cost is one factor. Many Growler families found off-base housing in Honolulu to be very expensive. 

Another problem was racial discrimination in housing and schools. The military struggled for decades to end segregated schooling near bases in the South. Into the 1970s, discriminatory laws and local customs severely limited housing options for Black service members.

With loved ones at sea for months at a time, Navy families form tight bonds with one another. The families of Intrepid and Growler crew members socialized, shared child care, passed along information and offered emotional support during difficult times. This tradition of care and support continues among Navy families today.

When Intrepid and Growler were in service, women in the Navy were not allowed to serve at sea. Part of the reason for this restriction was that the Navy assumed women were the primary caregivers for their children. Being a mother while in uniform was a fraught question for women in the Navy for decades. Until 1975, women who became pregnant were automatically discharged.

Women have been eligible to serve at sea since the late 1970s, creating a new dilemma: how should the Navy assign parents who are both on active duty? Today, the Navy attempts to avoid deploying both partners in a Navy couple to involuntary sea service. Navy couples may also request co-location, but these requests cannot always be accommodated. Couples cannot serve permanently on the same ship or have the same manager on shore assignment. 

Active duty Navy personnel must be prepared to deploy on short notice. The Navy requires every single parent, married dual-military couple with children, or guardian of a dependent adult to have a Family Care Plan. A Family Care Plan designates a caregiver who will be responsible for their children or adult dependents should these service members be deployed.

Panel Photo: This is a description of the image printed on the panel for this stop at the museum.

Photo description: Women, men and children watch and wave from a pier as USS Intrepid leaves port.

Caption: Families wave goodbye as Intrepid departs for Vietnam, 1968.

Credit: National Archives and Records Administration


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