Lightning moored at the Torpedo Station, Goat Island, Newport, Rhode Island. Courtesy Herreshoff Museum.
The application of steam power to private yachts and launches opened up new possibilities for navies around the world.

Length: 58' overall.

Beam: 6' 3".

Displacement: 3.45 long tons.

Draft: 1' 10".

Propulsion machinery: coal-fired water-tube boiler; direct acting reciprocating engine; 38 shp; 1 shaft.

Speed: 17.5 knots design; 20 knots trials.


Torpedo battery: 2 x spar torpedoes.

In 1876, the Bureau of Naval Ordnance ordered Steam Launch No. 6, a high-speed wooden double-ender from the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company, to be built for $5,000. Lightining’s coil boiler delivered performance that proved a revelation. Her partially-decked 58-foot hull was so well built and so light that she made 20 knots on trials and could be stopped within her own length while moving at her design speed of 17½ knots.

Lighting proved a fine test bed, capable of carrying two spar torpedoes. She spent much of her career attached to the Torpedo Station, and was superseded only when it needed something large enough to carry a self-propelled torpedo. For that, it aquired Stiletto.

Source: Bauer & Roberts.