Happy Birthday, Navy
242 years of service
October 13, 1775, the Continental Congress, "Resolved, That a swift sailing vessel, to carry ten carriage guns, and a proportionable number of swivels, with eighty men, be fitted, with all possible despatch, for a cruise of three months, and that the commander be instructed to cruize eastward, for intercepting such transports as may be laden with warlike stores and other supplies for our enemies, and for such other purposes as the Congress shall direct."*
The resolution went on to authorize a second ship, while a second resolution created a committee to oversee the purchase of the ships and write regulations. The Continental Navy, soon to become the United States Navy, was born.
The two ships initially purchased by Congress were merchant ships. They became the brigantines Andrew Doria, "The Black Brig," and Cabot. By the end of the year, Congress had authorized thirteen frigates. The new Navy's mission was primarily interrupting the transport of arms and provisions to British forces, as well as protecting American merchants.
The first real naval battle of the war came the following March in the British colony of the Bahamas. Under the command of Commodore Esek Hopkins, the fledgling fleet and a contingent of Marines captured two small enemy sloops, then took Fort Montague, Fort Nassau and the town of Nassau, Mar. 3 and 4. With a severe ammunition shortage at home, their objective had been to seize large stores of gunpowder and munition.