Official caption: “Hippocampus, U.S. Motor Boat, 1913, photographed prior to World War I with a rowing boat and several model sailing boats in the foreground.”
Named for the humble sea horse, Hippocampus was a 55-foot gasoline powerboat built by the New York Yacht Launch & Engine Co. of Morris Heights in 1912 for one James F. Porter, of Chicago.
On 21 June 1917– 105 years ago today– she was leased to the Navy and before the week was out was commissioned as USS Hippocampus (S. P. 654) at Rockland, Maine, BMC F. L. Greene in command.
Capable of just 11 knots, she was armed with a single 1-pounder 37mm pop gun and assigned to the First Naval District, served as a harbor patrol craft at the harbor entrance at Rockland and in Penobscot Bay during the Great War.
Hippocampus decommissioned on 30 November 1918 and was returned to her owner on 5 April 1919, without firing a shot in anger, although Kapitänleutnant Richard Feldt’s SMS U-156 did come fairly close to Maine during his famed “Attack on Orleans.”