The first USS ”Cabot” of the United States was a 14-gun brig, one of the first ships of the Continental Navy, and the first to be captured in the American Revolutionary War.
The brig was purchased in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, during November 1775, outfitted there by Wharton and Humphreys, and placed under the command of Captain J. B. Hopkins.
Sailing with Commodore Esek Hopkins’ fleet, Cabot joined in the expedition against the Bahamas in March 1776, taking part in the amphibious operations against New Providence on 3 March. By this bold stroke, men of the fleet seized large quantities of desperately needed military supplies which they carried back to the Continental Army. Upon the return of the fleet north, Cabot was first to fire in the engagement with HMS Glasgow on 6 April. The next month, she made a short cruise off the New England coast, during which she took her first prize. In September and October, again sailing in New England waters, she seized six more prizes.
Cabot stood out of Boston in March 1777, and later in the month, encountered HMS Milford (32). The vastly more powerful British ship chased Cabot and forced her ashore in Nova Scotia. While Cabot’s captain and crew escaped unharmed, the British were later able to get the brig off, and refitted her for service in the Royal Navy.
She stands out as the first American armed vessel to engage an enemy. According to Brigadier General Edwin H. Simmons’ research, the act was initiated by a Continental Marine in the tops of the Cabot throwing a hand grenade at the feet of the British officer, who at that point was still waiting for a reply from the American vessel.