the act to provide a naval armament (sess. 1, ch. 12, 1 350), also known as the naval act of 1794, or simply, the naval act, was passed by the 3rd united states congress on march 27, 1794, and signed into law by president george washington. the act authorized the construction of six frigates at a total cost of $688,888.82. these ships were the first ships of what eventually became the present-day united states navy.