USS Cushing (Torpedo Boat No. 1) was the first US Navy ship named for Commander William Barker Cushing (1842–1874).

Length: 138' 9" overall.

Beam: 15' 1".

Displacement: 116 long tons.

Draft: 5' 3".

Propulsion machinery: coal-fired water-tube boiler; vertical qualdruple-expansion engines; 1,720 ihp; 2 shafts.

Speed: 22.5 knots trials.

Complement: 22


Battery: 3 x 6-pounder guns; 3 x 18-inch Howell torpedoes.

Designed by Nathanael Greene Herreshoff, she was built at Bristol, Rhode Island by his Herreshoff Manufacturing Company, with Lieutenant Commander George A. Converse serving as the Navy’s on-site inspector. At her launch on 23 January 1890, she was sponsored by Miss K. B. Herreshoff. She was placed in commission on 22 April 1890 under the command of Lieutenant Commander Cameron McRae Winslow.

Cushing was the Navy’s first steel-hulled torpedo boat and the only one equipped to carry the self-propelled Howell torpedo. From 8 September 1891, she was attached to the Naval Torpedo Station at Newport, Rhode Island. Except for a brief period out of commission from 11 November 1891–11 January 1892 and a cruise to Norfolk in March–April 1893, she continued operating from Newport with the Whitehead torpedo, notably under her second commander, Lieutenant Frank Friday Fletcher.

On 11 February 1898, during a passage to Havana, Cushing lost Ensign J. C. Breckinridge overboard in heavy seas. For their heroic efforts to save him, Gunner’s Mate Third Class J. Everetts and Ship’s Cook First Class D. Atkins were awarded the Medal of Honor.

On 31 December 1897, under Commander Albert Gleaves, Cushing reported to the North Atlantic Fleet’s Blockading Force at Key West, Florida for patrol and courier duty in the Florida Straits.

During the 17-week Spanish-American War, she was assigned to patrol the Florida Keys. On 7 August, she captured four small vessels and towed them to her anchorage at Piedras Key. Four days later, armed boats from Cushing and Gwin captured and burned a 20-ton schooner.

Returning north in August, Cushing resumed her operations at the Torpedo Station on 14 September until she was placed out of commission on 8 November.

From 1901 to 1911, Cushing was attached to the Reserve Torpedo Flotilla at Norfolk. In 1920, she was used as a target and sunk on 24 September.

Source: Bauer & Roberts.