The Torch and the Torpedo Boat
For Liberty’s sake, enlist in the Navy!
Although some would bemoan the above image of an old torpedo boat running patrols in New York harbor in 1917 to be more artistic license than likely, it happened.
While the U.S. Navy commissioned 35 Torpedo Boats (TB) in 18 evolutionary classes between the 105-ton/140-foot USS Cushing (TB-1) in 1890 and the 165-ton/175-foot USS Wilkes (TB-35) in 1902, the overall poor showing of such types in the Sino-Japanese War of 1894, the 1898 Spanish-American War the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05, and the Italian-Turkish War of 1911– coupled with the entry of larger and much more capable destroyer types– led to these slim green sea dragons to be retired by the Great War.
By 1917 when the U.S. entered the Great War, many of these obsolete boats had been scrapped or disposed of as targets already but a few newer models still swaying quietly in mothballs.
These unloved and forgotten vessels were dusted off and used for coastal patrol/harbor defense along the East Coast.
This included USS Bailey (TB-21) and USS Bagley (TB-24), who would head to the Big Apple.
These two boats, assigned to the Harbor Entrance Patrol of the 3d Naval District, operated from Brooklyn on a series of regular patrols and scouting ahead of the convoys leaving the harbor until they were demobilized in 1919 and subsequently discarded.
However, during this wartime service, they suffered the indignity of being stripped of their names in August 1918. Bailey was renamed simply Coast Torpedo Boat No. 8 while Bagley would become CTB10. Their historic names were needed for shiny new four-piper destroyers (DD-269 and DD-185) that would go on to make their own pages in history in the next World War.