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McKee I (Torpedo Boat No. 18)


Hugh W. McKee, born in Lexington, Ky., was appointed to the Naval Academy 25 September 1861. Graduated in 1866, he had attained the rank of lieutenant by March 1870, and was serving in the Asiatic Squadron.

Mortally wounded on 11 June 1871, while leading a company of bluejackets over the walls of a Korean fort on Kang‑wa Island close by the Inchon beaches during a punitive expedition. He died on board Colorado and was buried at his birthplace.


(Torpedo Boat No. 18: displacement 65; length 99'3"; beam 12'9"; draft 4'3"; speed 20.0 knots; complement 12; armament 2 1‑pounders, 2 18-inch torpedo tubes; class Dahlgren)

The first McKee (Torpedo Boat No. 18) was laid down on 11 September 1897 at Baltimore, Md., by Columbian Iron Works, launched on 5 March 1898; sponsored by Mrs. William H. Humrichouse; and commissioned on 16 May 1898, Lt. C. M. Knepper in command.

McKee underwent sea trials in Chesapeake Bay and then sailed to New York to assume coastal defense duties during the Spanish‑American War. Reassigned to the Naval Torpedo Station, Newport, R.I., the coal‑burning torpedo boat operated along the New England coast until returning to New York on 13 December 1903, where she was  decommissioned on 22 December 1903.

Eight months later, 6 August 1904, she was recommissioned and steamed back to Newport. From 1907 to 1910 she operated from New York, then was assigned special duty in the reserve at Newport. On 29 January 1912 she arrived at New York and was  decommissioned.

Stricken from the Navy Register on 6 April 1912, McKee was towed to Norfolk and used as a target. On 24 September 1920 she was ordered sunk near Craney Island, an order carried out later that fall.

Updated, Robert J. Cressman

15 April 2024

Published: Mon Apr 15 11:32:57 EDT 2024