The Continental Gunboat Philadelphia, America’s oldest surviving fighting vessel, was commissioned by the continental congress and built in 1776. The 54 foot, 29-ton gunboat was part of a small fleet of ships that Brigadier General Benedict Arnold used to harass and slow the British fleet on Lake Champlain. She was sunk in battle on 11 October 1776 and, after over 150 years at the bottom of the lake, the Philadelphia, her guns and hundreds of other artifacts were recovered in 1935.
The Philadelphia is now part of the permanent collection of the National Museum of American History in Washington D.C.
Here’s the page from the Papers of the Continental Congress where congress resolves, “that the president write to governor Cooke requesting him to order fifty ship carpenters to be engaged on the best terms at the expense of the continent and sent to general Schuyler at Albany as soon as possible, in order to build vessels for the defense of the lakes.”