Since the outbreak of open hostilities with the British in April, little consideration had been given to protection by sea until Congress received news that a British naval fleet was on its way. In November, the Continental Navy was formally organized, and in December Esek Hopkins was appointed the first commander-in-chief of the Continental Navy. His first fleet consisted of seven ships: two 24-gun frigates, the Alfred and the Columbus; two 14-gun brigs, the Andrea Doria and the Cabot; and three schooners, the Hornet, the Wasp, and the Fly.
During the American Revolution, the Continental Navy successfully preyed on British merchant shipping and won several victories over British warships. After being disbanded for several years, the United States Navy was formally established with the creation of the Department of the Navy in April 1798.