Skip to main content

Lieutenant Commander William W. Kimball, Commander, Atlantic Torpedo Flotilla, to Commodore Arent S. Crowninshield, Chief of the Bureau of Navigation

Naval Station,         

Key West,Florida, 

June 2d,1898.

Memo for Chief of Staff.

Referring to the matter of keeping the Torpedo Boats in an efficient condition for service,in connection with the verbal and written report heretofore made.

          Although the boats are at present more or less inefficient owing to the service which the conditions of the present war have required of them,they can all be made seriously formidable for attack work by overhauling them here,and at Mobile.1

          When so overhauled,if they could be furnished with a small collier that could carry two or three fills up with good coal,water,oil,waste,and some of the heavier tools and stores necessary for making small repairs immediately these last are indicated; and that could be used to tow the boats by day and so save bunker coal,there is no apparent reason why the Flotilla could not be kept ready for good work at all times,anywhere around the coasts of Cuba and Porto Rico,for 30 days at a stretch.

          If the fuel vessel were at the disposition of the Flotilla,it is evident that she could always be moved to a place sufficiently sheltered for coaling when the sea were too heavy at any particular station assigned; and that such a place could be found not far from any station.

          Coaling in quite rough water could be accomplished if the collier were provided with a boat as large as a ship’s cutter,fitted with pull and haul lines,and with coal bags for use when coaling a torpedo boat astern of the collier.

          Always at night,and under all probable circumstances by day the Flotilla could protect its collier without aid from ships.

          It is evident from our own experiences,and especially from those of foreign nations,that to make torpedo boats serious as such,they must be grouped and not scattered; in this connection it is to be observed that the rivalry between the boats when endeavoring to keep a high state of efficiency on duty common to a group makes for good work nearly as much as does the mutual support that can be rendered.

          Even if the boats were never required for real torpedo boat work,it is probable that more efficiency for dispatch and blockade duty could be gotten out of them when grouped and given a sort of floating base as above indicated,than when scattered and made dependent on the ships of the fleet; but this memorandum is more particularly offered for consideration in case the developments of present hostilities should indicate the disenability of properly preparing the Flotilla for attacking the enemy’s ships or for defending our own against night attacks.


Commanding Atlantic T.B.Flotilla.

Source Note: TD, DNA, RG 313, Entry 2.

Footnote 1: Torpedo boats were used to carry dispatches.

Related Content