David Porter, born 1 February 1780 at Boston, Mass., served in the Quasi War with France first as midshipman on board Constellation, participating in the capture of L’Insurgente 9 February 1799; secondly, as 1st lieutenant of Experiment and later in command of Amphitrite. During the Barbary Wars (1801–07) Porter was 1st lieutenant of Enterprise, New York and Philadelphia and was taken prisoner when Philadelphia ran aground in Tripoli harbor 31 October 1803. After his release 3 June 1805 he remained in the Mediterranean as acting captain of Constitution and later captain of Enterprise. He was in charge of the naval forces at New Orleans 1808–10. As commander of Essex in the War of 1812, Captain Porter achieved fame by capturing the first British warship of the conflict, Alert, 13 August 1812 as well as several merchantmen. In 1813 he sailed Essex around Cape Horn and cruised in the Pacific warring on British whalers. On 28 March 1814 Porter was forced to surrender off Valpariso after an unequal contest with the frigates HBMS Phoebe and Cherub and only when his ship was too disabled to offer any resistance. From 1815 to 1822 he was a member of the Board of Navy Commissioners but gave up this post to command the expedition for suppressing piracy in the West Indies 1823–25. Commodore Porter resigned his commission in 1826 and became the commander-in-chief of the Mexican Navy 1826–29. He died on 3 March 1843 while U.S. Minister of Turkey.
His son, David Dixon Porter, was born in Chester, Pa., 8 June 1813. He served in the Mediterranean as a midshipman on board Constellation (1829–31), United States and Delaware (1832–34), and as a lieutenant on board Congress (1842–45). During the Mexican War he was attached to the Home Squadron in Spitfire and was present at the two attacks on Vera Cruz. Porter served with distinction in the Civil War, rising from lieutenant to rear admiral in two years. In April 1861 he reinforced Fort Pickens, Fla. in Powhatan and remained off the Florida coast until December. He then assumed command of the Mortar Flotilla under Farragut with the rank of commander and took Forts Jackson and St. Philip, April 1862, in the New Orleans campaign. He served with the flotilla until July 1862, cooperating with Farragut in his operations on the Mississippi from New Orleans to Vicksburg. While commanding the Mississippi Squadron as acting rear admiral from October 1862 to September 1864, Porter assisted Sherman in the capture of Arkansas Post (January 1863), bombarded the Grand Gulf batteries (May 1863), rendered invaluable aid to Grant in the reduction of Vicksburg (June–July 1863), and gained control of the Western Rivers during four expeditions in late 1863. He was next ordered to command the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron and led the two attacks on Fort Fisher, N.C., 24 December 1864 and 13 January 1865, when the works were carried. For his Civil War service Porter received, on four occasions, votes of thanks from Congress and was promoted to vice admiral in 1866. He was Superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy from 1866 to 1869. Porter was appointed admiral in 1870 becoming the senior ranking officer of the Navy, From 1877 until his death 13 February 1891 he served as Head of the Board of Inspection at Washington, D.C.
(TB–6: dp. 165; l. 175’6”; b. 17’9”; dr. 4’8”; s. 29 k.; cpl. 32; a. 4 1-pdr.; 3 18” tt.; cl. Porter)
The first Porter (TB–6) was laid down in February 1896 by Herreshoff Manufacturing Co., Bristol, R.I.: launched 9 September 1896; sponsored by Miss Agnes M. Herreshoff; and commissioned 20 February 1897 at Newport, R.I., Lt. John Charles Fremont in command.
Porter sailed to Washington, D.C. 27 February 1897 for inspection and was further examined 16–20 March at New York by the Chief of the Bureau of Navigation. She operated between New London and Newport; then visited New York from 15 July to 3 October before getting underway for her winter port, Charleston, S.C. Porter cruised in southern waters until 8 December and then proceeded to Key West where she was stationed 1–22 January 1898.
Porter arrived 26 January at Mobile for a visit but was ordered to return to Key West 6 March because of the tense situation in Cuba. When the United States declared war upon Spain, she was already patrolling the waters off Key West and the Dry Tortugas. Porter returned to Key West 22 March for replenishment.
Porter departed Key West 22 April with the North Atlantic Fleet for the blockade of the north coast of Cuba. She soon made contact with the enemy, capturing two Spanish schooners, Sofia and Matilda, 23–24 April. After refueling at Key West 2–7 May, Porter resumed blockade duty off Cape Haitien, Haiti keeping a watchful eye out for Cervera’s squadron. She participated in the three-hour bombardment of San Juan 12–13 May with the 9 ships of Rear Admiral W. T. Sampson’s fleet. During the attack Porter maintained a close position under the batteries with Detroit but was not hit.
Porter returned 13–14 May to the blockade of the north coast of Hispaniola, cruising off Samana Bay, Santo Domingo and off Porto Plata, Haiti. After a brief interval at Key West and Mobile (18–25 May), she joined Commodore Schley’s squadron (1–11 June) off Santiago de Cuba where it had bottled up the elusive Spanish warships. Porter came under heavy fire 7 June while silencing the shore batteries but was undamaged. Later she supported (11–17 June) the Marine beachhead at Guantanamo Bay. Porter took up her station off Santiago 17 June and again 21–22 June when she bombarded the Socapa battery during the landings at Daiquiri. She continued patrolling off Guantanamo until 9 July when she left for New York via Key West.
Upon her arrival at the New York Navy Yard 19 July, Porter was placed in reduced commission and decommissioned 5 November 1898. She recommissioned 10 October 1899 at New York and served as a training ship for firemen at Newport, Norfolk and Annapolis. Porter decommissioned 21 December 1900 at New York. She was put in reserve commission in late 1901 at Norfolk with the Reserve Torpedo Flotilla and continued this duty through 1907.
Porter recommissioned 31 January 1908 at Norfolk, and was ordered to Pensacola 21 February. As flagship of the 3rd Torpedo Flotilla, she engaged in torpedo runs in St. Joseph’s Bay, Fla. (4 March–22 April). Porter acted as naval escort to the remains of Governor De Witt Clinton in New York harbor 29 May 1908 before returning 1 July to the Reserve Torpedo Flotilla at Norfolk.
Porter recommissioned 14 May 1909 at Charleston, S.C., Lt. Harold R. Stark in command, and was assigned to the 3rd Division, Atlantic Torpedo Flotilla. She proceeded to Provincetown, Mass. 10 June for fleet exercises that lasted until 5 August. Porter departed 28 August for Hampton Roads and the Southern Drill Grounds, later joining the fleet at New York for the Hudson-Fulton Celebration 1–10 October. She was reassigned 14 November to the Reserve Torpedo Flotilla at Charleston where she remained until October 1911.
Porter sailed 30 October 1911 for New York where she took part in the fleet naval review 2 November for President Theodore Roosevelt. The President had ordered the mobilization “to test the preparedness of the fleet and the efficiency of our organization on the ships in the yards.” Afterwards Porter returned to the Reserve Torpedo Flotilla at Philadelphia. She was mobilized in October 1912 for another review at New York which was inspected by the President 15 October.
Porter was struck from the Navy List 6 November 1912 and was sold to Andrew Olsen 30 December 1912 at New York.