Continental Navy Ship


Surprise, the first American naval ship of the name, was a sloop purchased by the Continental Navy in 1777 and commanded by Captain Benjamin Dunn.

Surprise was ordered in April 1777 to join brigantine {USS|Andrew Doria|1775|2} and sloop {USS|Fly|1776|2} in clearing the Cape May channel of British ships.

On May 2nd, the Harwich packet Prince of Orange was taken in the English Channel by the USS Surprise, Captain Gustavus Conyngham. The latter vessel had been bought at Folkestone, and, with glaring disregard of French neutrality, had been equipped at Dunkirk. On the Surprise’s return to Dunkirk, the prize was seized and restored to Britain, though it was believed at the time, not without some reason, that the British Government, anxious to avoid a dispute with France, had purchased from Conyngham his capture.