In 1774, Rose, under the command of Sir James Wallace, was sent to Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island to put an end to the smuggling that had made Newport the fourth wealthiest city in America. Since the Rose was much larger than any American vessel of the time and Wallace was an effective commander, smuggling soon came almost to a standstill. This severely affected the economy of Newport. Rhode Island's merchants petitioned their colonial legislature to create a navy to deal with Wallace. They backed up their petitions with money by fitting out a merchant vessel for naval service. This vessel was commissioned as the sloop of war Providence. Providence became the first naval command of John Paul Jones. Rhode Island declared its independence from Britain on 4 May 1776, two full months before the rest of the colonies. The petitioning of the Continental Congress to form a naval force to rid Narragansett Bay of the Rose was the impetus for the creation of the Continental Navy.
In July of 1776, during the American Revolutionary War, the Rose played a large part in the British invasion of New York state, firing on fortifications and making forays far up the Hudson River. Wallace was knighted for his actions in helping to drive George Washington and his troops from the city of New York. She also patrolled the rest of the northeast coast of America, pressing sailors from merchant vessels and seeking out provisions for the British garrison at Boston.
Rose finally met her end in 1779 in Savannah, Georgia. The British, who were occupying the city, scuttled the Rose in a narrow part of the channel, effectively blocking it. Consequently, the French fleet was unable to assist the American assault and Savannah remained in British hands until the war's end. After the war the Rose was destroyed to clear the channel. Only a few artifacts have been recovered by dredging over the years.
She is currently owned by the San Diego Maritime Museum. The museum's volunteer crew is giving her an extensive refit. She returned to the Maritime Museum in March 2007 to complete preparation for sailing.
See HMS Rose for other ships of this name.