John Paul Jones received a lieutenant's commission in the Continental Navy in 1775 through the efforts of two friends who were members of the Continental Congress. The following year he became captain of the sloop Providence. Jones sailed to France in 1778 aboard the Ranger. During the spring, he terrorized the coastal population of Scotland and England.
That enhanced his reputation in France, and the government gave him a converted merchantman, which he renamed Bonhomme Richard. Sailing August 14, 1779, Jones captured 17 merchantmen off the British coast and in late September fell in with a convoy of British merchant vessels escorted by the Serapis and Countess of Scarborough. He moved alongside the Serapis; the two fired at point blank range, and Jones rejected the British demand for surrender. It was at that point he said, "I have not yet begun to fight." The Serapis finally surrendered, and Jones took command of it.
John Barry was a captain in the Continental Navy. He commanded the brigantine Lexington and the tender Edward. The latter was the first British ship taken by the Americans. As commander of the Alliance, he captured two British ships in 1781 and fought the final naval engagement of the war against the British vessel Sybil. Barry is credited with training Stephen Decatur and other prominent naval officers and is known as the "father of the U.S. Navy."