U.S.S. Cushing (1890)

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U.S.S. Cushing (1890)
Hull Number: TB-1
Builder: Herreshoff
Ordered: 3 August, 1886
Launched: 23 Jan, 1890
Commissioned: 22 Apr, 1890
Expended: 24 Sep, 1920
Fate: Target ship
U.S.S. Cushing was the U.S. Navy's first steel-hulled torpedo boat.


This article includes text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships

The Act of August 3, 1886 authorized the construction of a first-class torpedo boat, and two proposals were received and opened on 1 November, 1887: an $84,800 bid from Vulcan Iron Works of Chicago and the winning $82,750 bid from Herreshoff Manufacturing Company of Bristol, Rhode Island.[1]

Cushing was launched on 23 January, 1890 by sponsored by Miss K. B. Herreshoff; and commissioned 22 April, 1890, Lieutenant Cameron McR. Winslow in command.


The first modern steel-hulled 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, from 11 November 1891 to 11 January, 1892, Cushing continued her torpedo experiments in this area until 1893.

On 1 September 1892 in Peconic Bay, Cushing tested Bliss torpedos with two members of the Government Torpedo Board in attendance. The 18-in torpedoes could carry a 120-pound warhead 800 yards at 28 knots, but in this test only the discharge mechanism from each of the three tubes was worked, reliably plopping the torpedoes into the water fifteen feet from the ship. The contracted torpedoes were expected to cost $2000.[2]

Cushing arrived at Hampton Roads 31 March, 1893 for temporary duty with the Naval Review Fleet, and in April she escorted the British protected cruiser Blake and another ship (sometimes listed as the non-existent "H.M.S. Caravels") to New York for the Columbian Naval Review. 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 Joseph C. Breckinridge overboard in heavy seas. For their heroic efforts to save him, Gunner's Mate Third Class John Everetts and Ship's Cook First Class Daniel 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.


  • two 6-pounder quick-firing guns
  • three 18-inch torpedo tubes: two trainable tubes, one fixed bow tube. Three 18-inch Howell torpedoes were carried.


Dates of appointment are provided when known.

See Also


  1. Report of SecNav, 1887. p. IX.
  2. "Naval & Military Intelligence." The Times (London, England), Saturday, Sep 03, 1892; pg. 7; Issue 33734.
  3. Register of Officers, 1891. p. 22.
  4. Register of Officers, 1896. p. 22.
  5. Register of Officers, 1897. p. 18.
  6. Register of Officers, 1897. p. 18.
  7. Register of Officers, 1898. p. 20.


  • Chesneau, Robert; Kolesnik, Eugene (editors) (1979). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860–1905. London: Conway Maritime Press. (on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk).
  • Friedman, Norman (1985). U.S. Destroyers: An Illustrated Design History. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. (on Amazon.com).
  • Silverstone, Paul H. (2006). The U.S. Navy Warship Series: The New Navy 1883-1922. New York: Routledge.
  • Simpson, Richard V. (2001). Building the Mosquito Fleet: The U.S. Navy's First Torpedo Boats. Charleston: Arcadia Publishing.

Torpedo Boat U.S.S. Cushing
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