The first USS Hornet was a merchant sloop chartered from Captain William Stone in December 1775 to serve under Stone as a unit of Esek Hopkins' Fleet.
Hornet fitted out at Baltimore, then sailed with Hopkins fleet 18 February 1776. Outside the Virginia Capes, she ran afoul of USS Fly and was unable to accompany the fleet for the amphibious assault on New Providence. She patrolled in the Delaware Bay for nearly a year, then ran the British blockade to convoy merchantmen to Charleston. Documents of service are incomplete after this time but it appears that Hornet fell into British hands on the coast of South Carolina in the summer of 1777.