The United States Navy is the naval service branch of the United States Armed Forces
tasked with defense of the seas and protection of America’s maritime interests around
the world. In 1775, the Continental Congress passed a resolution creating the Navy.
Independent of the Congress’ actions, Commander-in-Chief George Washington began acquiring
ships to interdict British supply ships and merchantmen. Among Washington’s first
acquisitions was the ocean-going schooner USS Hannah that was paid for out of his own
The Continental Congress eventually passed a resolution authorizing the purchase of additional vessels to be armed for seizure of British merchant ships. After the Revolutionary War ended, the first United States Congress determined to provide for an army but decided that a navy was not necessary. Consequently, the Continental Navy was disbanded and its vessels sold.
However, by 1794, persistent destruction of U.S. commerce by Barbary pirates caused Congress to authorize the building of six frigates in and to establish the navy department in 1798. The first victory for the United States Navy was realized later that year when USS Delaware captured the French privateer Le Croyable. The first victory over an enemy warship was in 1799 when the frigate Constellation captured the French frigate L'Insurgente. These events led to the realization of the need for an on-going American maritime presence. In 1801, the outgoing administration rushed through Congress an act authorizing a peacetime navy for the first time, an act that led to the establishment of the U.S. Navy as we know it today.