The Navy has commissioned seven vessels named Saratoga into the service of the United States, but at least four others flew the nascent nation’s colors into battle. Indeed, the first three predated the Continental Navy’s “Sara.” All four were privateers; three fought in the Revolutionary War, the last in the War of 1812.
The consensus about the American Revolution’s naval war is that the Continental government relied on privateering to harass British maritime commerce with the intention of seizing ships and their valuable cargoes. However, especially in the early months of the war, the government had not deferred to privateering as its primary course of action. While privately owned vessels were converted for fighting, they were not independent contractors. The Continental Congress leased the ships and paid their expenses, thus making them, at least temporarily, government property. The intent was not simply commerce raiding, but actively engaging British warships as well.