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History of Continental Navy brigantine Cabot

Brigantine; 189 tons; length 74' 10"; beam  24' 8"; beam 11' 4"; complement 120; armament 14 6-pounder smooth bores.

Source of name:

John Cabot (1450-1498), the Venetian navigator, discovered the North American continent in 1497 while sailing under the sponsorship of King Henry VII of England.


The first Cabot, a 14-gun brig, was purchased in Philadelphia, Pa., during November 1775; outfitted there by Wharton and Humphreys; and placed under the command of Captain J. B. Hopkins as one of the first ships of the Continental Navy.

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 H.M.S. Glasgow 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. Cabot was the first Continental naval ship captured by the British.


8 August 2001