I had seen the sign at Whitehall laying claim to being the birthplace of the Navy in many trips to Vermont for skiing and naturally felt they had a justifiable case.
With most of his boats destroyed by the British fleet, and realizing he was defeated, Arnold scuttled the remain boats and got away with his men.
So, with the federal mandate to build a fleet, albeit a small one composed of small craft, Whitehall has a justifiable claim to the title of "Birthplace of the US Navy."
As a matter interest, Arnold's gunboats sank almost intact, upright, with masts standing up. His "flagship" Philadelphia was discovered in 1935, virtually intact, by Lorenzo Haggulund, who raised it and displayed it as a tourist attraction with minimal conservation and no rules about touching, climbing on, or anything one might expect today. In 1964 it went to the Museum of American History. There are others on the lake bed, found and mapped with ROV's (remote underwater vehicles) but not yet raised. The cold water, lack of organisms to eat the wood, and depth, have protected the wrecks from too much deterioration.
A sketch of how one of the other gunboats rests on the bottom.
A photo of how the boat was originally displayed! Can you imagine!
So, that's why Whitehall New York claims the title, Birthplace of the U.S. Navy . . . . but, wait a minute! Look here:
Hmmm. Success has many fathers!
". . .this first time when a sail truly filled and the boat took life and knifed across the lake under perfect control, this was so beautiful it stopped my breath." Gary Paulsen Caught By the Sea