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Stockton I (Torpedo Boat No. 32)

(Torpedo Boat No. 32: dp. 200; l. 175'; b. 17'8"; dr. 6'2" (mean)

Robert Field Stockton, born on 20 August 1795 at Princeton, N.J., entered the United States Navy as a midshipman in 1811. During the War of 1812, he served with distinction on board a frigate, President, and later ashore defending Washington and Baltimore. After the war, Stockton served in the Mediterranean Squadron, operating against Barbary pirates in waters off the west coast of Africa, suppressing the slave trade, and in the Caribbean fighting buccaneers. He commanded Erie and Alligator between 1820 and 1822. Stockton left active duty in 1828 to become involved in the Delaware & Raritan Canal Co.

Returning to active duty in 1838 with the rank of captain, Stockton assumed command of ship-of-the-line Ohio. He declined President Tyler's offer to appoint him Secretary of the Navy in 1841 and instead worked with John Ericsson on the construction of the Navy's first screw warship Princeton; and, in 1843, he became her first commander. In 1845, he was chosen by the President to convey the United States government's annexation resolution to the government of Texas.

After relieving Commodore Sloat in command of the Pacific Squadron on 23 July 1847, Commodore Stockton directed operations which captured California and added other territory to the nation. He resigned from the Navy on 28 May 1850; and, in the following year, was sent to the United States Senate by New Jersey. During his term as Senator, Stockton introduced a bill providing for abolition of flogging in the Navy; and he was energetic in urging adequate coastal defenses. From 1853 until his death, Commodore Stockton was president of the Delaware & Raritan Canal Co. He died on 7 October 1866 at Princeton, N.J.


The first Stockton was launched on 27 December 1899 by William R. Trigg Co., Richmond, Va.; sponsored by Miss Katherine Stockton; and commissioned on 14 March 1901, Lt. Archibald H. Davis in command.

Stockton remained at Norfolk Navy Yard until 14 November 1901 when she sailed for Port Royal, S.C. Decommissioned on 16 November, she remained there into the following year. Recommissioned on 7 June 1902, Stockton steamed, via New London, Conn., to Newport, R.I. On 25 August, the torpedo boat was ordered to the Caribbean. Arriving at Key West, Fla., on 3 October 1902, Stockton subsequently cruised off Hispaniola and Puerto Rico before returning to Key West on 14 January 1903. She reached Norfolk a fortnight later and was decommissioned there on 16 February.

Stockton was recommissioned on 11 June 1906 and assigned to the 3d Torpedo Flotilla the following day. She remained on the United States east coast into 1909, attached to the 3d Torpedo Flotilla. Transferred to the 1st Torpedo Division on 9 September 1909, she participated in the Hudson-Fulton Centenary celebrations during October 1909.

Stockton was placed in reserve on 9 November 1909 and, but for occasional cruises as far north as New York, remained at Charleston Navy Yard into 1913. Decommissioned at Charleston Navy Yard on 14 November 1913, Stockton was struck from the Navy list on 15 November. On 25 May 1914, the torpedo boat was ordered prepared for use as a target and was sunk by battleships and destroyers of the Atlantic Fleet during September 1916.

Published: Thu Sep 24 18:53:02 EDT 2015