Skip to main content
Related Content
Document Type
  • Ship History
Wars & Conflicts
File Formats
Location of Archival Materials

Cushing I (Torpedo Boat No. 1)


(TB-1: dp. 116; l. 140'; b. 15'1"; dr. 4'10"; s. 23 k.; cpl. 22; a. 3 6-pdr., 3 tt.)

William Barker Cushing, born 24 November 1842 in Delafield, Wis., rendered gallant service during the Civil War, unsurpassed for daring and courage. He was four times commended by the Navy Department, and received the thanks of Congress for his boldest and most successful exploit, the destruction of the Confederate ironclad ram Albemarle at Plymouth, N.C., 27 October 1864. Commander Cushing died 17 December 1874 while serving at the Washington Navy Yard.


The first Cushing (TB-1) was launched 23 January 1890 by Herreshoff Manufacturing Co., Bristol, R.I.; sponsored by Miss K. B. Herreshoff; and commissioned 22 April 1890, Lieutenant C. M. Winslow in command.

The first torpedo boat built for the Navy, Cushing was attached to the Squadron of Evolution and equipped for experimental work to complete the development of torpedo outfits and to gather data for the service. On 8 September 1891 she reported to Newport for duty at the Naval Torpedo Station, and except for a brief period out of commission, 11 November 1891-11 January 1892, Cushing continued her torpedo experiments in this area until 1893.

Cushing arrived at Hampton Roads 31 March 1893 for temporary duty with the Naval Review Fleet, and in April she escorted HMS Blake and HMS Caravels to New York. Cushing returned to duty at Newport 6 May, working with the Whitehead torpedo. Based on Key West from 31 December 1897, Cushing reported to the North Atlantic Fleet's Blockading Force for picket patrol in the Florida Straits and courier duty for the Force. On 11 February 1898 while making a passage to Havana, Cushing lost Ensign J. C. Breckinridge overboard in heavy seas. For their heroic efforts to save him, Gunner's Mate Third Class J. Everetts and Ship's Cook First Class D. Atkins were awarded the Medal of Honor.

Upon the declaration of war between the United States and Spain, Cushing was assigned to patrol the Cays, and on 7 August captured four small vessels and towed them to her anchorage at Piedras Cay. Four days later armed boats from Cushing and Gwin captured and burned a 20-ton schooner. Returning north in August, 1898, Cushing resumed her operations at the Newport Torpedo Station 14 September until decommissioned 8 November 1898. From 1901 to 1911 she was attached to the Reserve Torpedo Flotilla at Norfolk, and was sunk 24 September 1920 after use as a target.

Published: Mon Jul 06 10:20:00 EDT 2015