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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
805 KIDDER BREESE SE -- WASHINGTON NAVY YARD
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Vitesse

 

(MB: t. 18 (gross); 1. 60'0"; b. l0'0"; dr. 3'0" (mean); s. 22.0 k.; cpl. 7; a. 1 3-pdr., 1 Colt mg.)

 

Vitesse—a wooden-hulled motorboat built in 1917 at Greenport, Long Island, N.Y., by the Greenport Basin and Construction Co.—was acquired by the Navy in July 1917 from Charles Fry under a free lease. Assigned the designation SP-1192, Vitesse was commissioned at the Philadelphia Navy Yard on 18 July 1917, Machinist's Mate Second Class Charles Fry, USNRF, in temporary command. Eleven days later, on 29 July, Lt. (jg.) E. C. Sweeney, USNRF, assumed command.

 

Over the next few weeks, Vitesse remained in the Philadelphia area, fitting out. Her main battery, a single pedestal-mounted 3-pounder, was installed at the Essington Ship Building Co., Essington, Pa., on 3 August. Four days later, the boat received her secondary battery, a single Colt machine gun; and she took on ammunition at Fort Mifflin the following day. Vitesse ultimately departed Philadelphia on the afternoon of 9 August, carrying 1,000 hymm books for the chaplain at Cape May, N.J.—her assigned section base —as well as confidential publications for the commander of the harbor entrance patrol there.

 

Assigned to the 4th Naval District's harbor entrance patrol at the outset of her naval career, Vitesse performed her initial duty out of Sewall's Point and Cape May. She patrolled assigned sectors, usually off net defenses, speaking to and identifying passing naval and merchant vessels. In addition, she occasionally carried dispatches to other boats on patrol and stood by, ready to assist other nearby small craft in need of aid.

 

Vitesse escorted the yacht Aloha (SP-317), the flagship for Rear Admiral Cameron McR. Winslow, Inspector of Naval Districts, Atlantic Coast, when Admiral Winslow inspected the wreck of the steamer SS Herbert Pratt off Lewes, Del., on 4 and 5 June 1918. Later, on 30 September 1918, while operating  temporarily out of the Corinthian Yacht Club, near Philadelphia, Vitesse embarked Rear Admiral James M. Helm, Commandant of the 4th Naval District, and Rear Admiral Hugo Osterhaus, USN (Ret.), from the Office of Naval Districts, as they toured Philadelphia harbor on an inspection trip.

 

After a final stint of patrol operations out of Lewes, Del., Vitesse departed that vicinity at 0605 on 24 November—13 days after the armistice and five days after the discontinuance of "military patrol" activities —and arrived at Fort Mifflin at 1600 to offload ammunition the same day. When that task was done, the motor-boat proceeded on to pier 19, Philadelphia, arriving there at 1715 the same day. She remained there until decommissioned on 3 December 1918. Struck from the Navy list the following day, Vitesse was simultaneously returned to her owner.