During the American Revolutionary War, the Georgia State Navy consisted of only a few ships, most of which were destroyed in 1778 and 1779.
Georgia was one of the first of the Thirteen Colonies to engage a ship for its own naval purposes. In June 1775, not long after the American Revolutionary War broke out, it commissioned an armed sloop for the purpose of seizing a British transport carrying munitions that was destined for the Georgia port of Savannah. Funds were authorized in 1776 for expeditions by Captains Oliver Bowen and Job Pray to acquire and arm ships in the West Indies; whether these were actually successful is unknown. In November 1776 the state established an admiralty court for adjudicating the distribution of prizes captured at sea.
The state also authorized the construction of row galleys in 1776. A total of four were put into service: Washington, Lee, Bulloch, and Congress. These ships, unsuited for use on the high seas, served along the state’s coast and on its rivers. They were used in some of the failed attempts to attack East Florida, and in the successful naval action in April 1778 that disabled and captured several British ships off St. Simons Island.
The four galleys were used in the 1779 Siege of Savannah, a failed Franco-American attempt to retake the city from the British. The continued British occupation of the state (the only state in which the royal governor returned to take control), made the construction of further ships impossible.