Enhance the morale of Sea Services personnel, veterans, and their families

Expose the Low-Country Community, and especially our  young people, to the values of our Sea Services by supporting informational outreach programs and providing proactive support to the Naval Sea Cadet Corps, JROTC and Young Marines, and

Inform our Community and its leaders of the importance of a strong United States Maritime Sector


Become a recognized provider-partner to Charleston-area Sea Services personnel, veterans, families, and aspiring youth enrolled in programs such as Naval Sea Cadet Corps, Young Marines, and JROTC.  We strive to become a premier Community provider of Sea Services information.

Guiding Principles

Commitment—Have a greater impact in the community stemming from service projects that support Sea Services’ members, veterans, families, and youth

Teamwork—Support and encourage collaboration with other veteran’s related organizations who also recognize and promote pride and professionalism, and

Growth—Reach out to area Sea Services’ veterans, and supportive civilians, to expand general membership and attract the next generation into our ranks

Council History

By Jerry Nuss, based on records maintained by Edith Calliham
January 2000


Navy Leagues have existed for more than 200 years before the birth of Christ when the Navy League of Rome built 250 ships and trained the sailors to man them. The Navy League of Great Britain was established in 1894, Italy's in 1897, Germany's in 1898 and numerous others since. The U.S. established its Navy League in 1902 with the encouragement and cooperation of President Theodore Roosevelt. The purpose of the Navy League as stated by President Roosevelt, was to educate the American public on the need for a strong Navy. The Navy League today conducts local, national and international educational programs aimed at garnering support and understanding for America’s maritime service and for the people that serve them. There are about 70,000 members in more than 330 councils around the world.


In 1947, the Charleston Navy League Council was officially chartered. But it had functioned informally prior to that time. During its years before chartering, the Mayor of Charleston served as President of the Council. When L. Mendel Rivers was elected to Congress, it was a big boost to the Council, leading to the chartering and establishment of a formal organization. Unfortunately, the Charter has been lost, so we have no knowledge of the organizers, etc. In fact, we don’t know the names of early presidents, but Joseph Riley, Sr. and Louis Green were most likely two of the original organizers and we have record of them being Presidents in the 1950's. Other known presidents are listed at the end of this outline.

Today our Charleston Council has about 260 members from the business, professional, and retired communities.  We carry out the mission of the Navy League in many ways.We award two swords to the top citadel graduating cadets entering the Navy and the Marine Corps. We award the top Marine Biology scholar at the College of Charleston with a $500 scholarship. We have hosted many receptions for visiting ships, both U.S. and foreign.

We also sponsor a local sea cadet division, the Hunley-Yorktown division. Throughout the U.S., there are about 250 Sea Cadet units training 4000 young men and women, of which many join the armed services. Our unit averages about 30 members from year to year. These Sea Cadets train in maritime subjects such as seamanship, piloting, boating, and damage control. They go on ship cruises and many go to boot camp for a special session. They learn leadership and discipline, but they are not members of the armed services. They find out in this manner whether or not the military life will suit them.

In addition to having our own Sea Cadet unit, we have hosted Sea Cadet units from Canada. We did this for several years during the summers of the 1980's. These cadets were here for 2 weeks, training on local ships and the navy base.