The first Beaufort, a galley constructed by the citizens of Beaufort, S.C., in 1799, was presented by them to the United States government and was placed in commission by the Navy around the beginning of the summer of that year, Capt. P. A. Cartwright in command.
Beaufort's construction had been occasioned by the undeclared hostilities that broke out at sea between the United States and revolutionary France in 1798. Her duty was to protect the South Carolina coast, harbors, inlets, and waterways from invasions and raids. Since neither of the two countries ever seriously entertained thoughts of invading the other's territory, Beaufort spent her brief career in making uneventful patrols along the South Carolina coast. She was finally sold at public auction in Charleston sometime around the beginning of February 1802.