On April 23, 1778, the fledgling United States Navy successfully launched an amphibious assault on the town of Whitehaven, England in what some call the most recent invasion of the country. The newly constructed sloop-of-war, the USS Ranger, under the command of Scottish-born Captain John Paul Jones sailed into the port of Whitehaven and sent a landing party to shore who spiked the seaward facing guns protecting the port. The raiding party also burned a coal ship, The Thompson, in the hopes of the fire spreading to the entire merchant and coal fleet anchored in the harbor. The citizens of Whitehaven managed to contain the blaze to The Thompson, which was lost. The assault on Whitehaven is the only time American troops have ever been in England as a hostile force.
John Paul Jones’ actions throughout the American Revolution earned him a place in United State history as an almost mythical figure. He is frequently honored with the sobriquet, “Father of the American Navy.” He lies buried at the United State Naval Academy in the Naval Academy Chapel. His tomb is watched over my an honor guard of Midshipmen whenever it is open to the public for viewing.