Lake Champlain and the Navy… A contentious claim by the town of Whitehall, NY that the U.S. Navy was founded on Lake Champlain has never been officially objected, however the U.S. Navy says that the claim is based on naval and amphibious operations on Lake Champlain undertaken by the Continental Army under the command of Benedict Arnold. “It should be noted that Washington's and Arnold's operations were manned and officered entirely under the authority of the Continental Army.”
The Whitehall Chamber of Commerce site defines the origin when in 1759, Whitehall was settled in a valley at the southern end of Lake Champlain. This colonial town was founded by British Army Captain Philip Skene, and was originally known as Skenesboro. Skenesboro became the first settlement on Lake Champlain and was a center of maritime trade. Captain Skene built saw mills, grist mills and an iron foundry, where trade can be documented from that time. The Revolutionary War caused the capture of Skene's trading schooner and the building of a fleet by the famous Benedict Arnold at this place. Because of the Revolutionary War actions, the New York State Legislature, in 1960, declared the legacy that names Whitehall as the Birthplace of the United States Navy. The Whitehall harbor also produced ships used for service by the U.S. Navy during the War of 1812.
One report on military.com tells a slightly different story. The website (not affiliated with the US government) pinpoints the birthday of the US Navy as October 13, 1775, the year before Arnold built his fleet at Skenesborough and on the day that the Continental Navy was adopted through legislation in Philadelphia. Along with Philly, the Navy also recognizes Machias, ME; Providence, RI; and Marblehead, MA as playing significant roles in the creation of the service branch. The claim that it’s Whitehall, however, “is based on naval and amphibious operations on Lake Champlain undertaken by the Continental Army under the command of Benedict Arnold,” the article explains. The US Navy considers its beginnings to be the Continental Navy, not the Continental Army.
While the claims may continue to be contentious, CP sent the Canada/U.S. Navy special SD70ACU #7022 south along the lake in its own fall battle with the elements. CP 7022 wears the grey, red and black color pattern of modern Canadian and American warships.