U.S.S. Stiletto (1886)

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U.S.S. Stiletto (1887)
Builder: Herreshoff[1]
Purchased: Act of 3 March, 1887[2]
Laid down: 1885[3]
Launched: 1886[4]
Commissioned: July 1888
Stricken: 27 January, 1911
Sold: 18 July, 1911[5]
Fate: Broken up
U.S.S. Stiletto was the U.S. Navy's first torpedo boat capable of launching self-propelled torpedoes.


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

Stiletto began life as a steam yacht built by the Herreshoff Manufacturing Co., Bristol, R.I., as a private speculation. Her wooden hull was comprised of white oak framing and stem and stern posts, side planking of white pine and yellow pine, deck planking of white pine, and diagonal iron straps.[6]

After two years of private use by the Herreshoff brothers, Stiletto was purchased for the U.S. Navy under an Act of Congress dated 3 March 1887, for experimental evaluation. Her conversion from a yacht to a torpedo boat would take until the summer of 1888.[7]


Stiletto entered service in July 1888, and was attached to the Torpedo Station, Newport, R.I., where she would be based throughout her career.

Hauled out of the water at Newport at the end of 1894, Stiletto underwent refitting over the next several months. These included re-tubing of her coil boiler and modifications to fire the new license-built Whitehead torpedoes in addition to the native Howell torpedo. She was relaunched on 6 May, 1895 and recommissioned shortly thereafter.[8][9]

During 1897, she was modified to burn fuel oil, but results of trials held subsequently were disappointing, and the experiment was not repeated.

On 18 May, 1908 Stiletto was rammed by the steam launch Breaker off Newport and was beached to avoid sinking.[10]

Stiletto was struck from the Navy list on 27 January 1911, and sold on 18 July, 1911 at Newport to James F. Nolan of East Boston, Mass., for scrapping.


Similar to the Royal Navy's Lightning, Stiletto was an experimental vessel and usually never had a permanently designated commanding officer. Instead, she was the responsibility of an officer of the Torpedo Station alongside other general duties.

Dates of appointment are provided when known.


As Built

  • Nil.


  • Bow torpedo tube. Two Howell torpedoes.[12]

See Also


  1. Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860–1905. p. 159.
  2. Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860–1905. p. 159.
  3. Silverstone. The New Navy. p. 36.
  4. Silverstone. The New Navy. p. 36.
  5. Silverstone. The New Navy. p. 36.
  6. Simpson. Mosquito Fleet. pp. 35-36.
  7. Simpson. Mosquito Fleet. p. 40.
  8. "Will Resume the Tests of Torpedoes". The New York Times. Sunday, 10 March, 1895. Vol. XLIV. No. 13,587. col. D, p. 3.
  9. "The Stiletto Launched". The New York Times. Tuesday, 7 May, 1895. Vol. XLIV. No. 13,637. col. D, p. 16.
  10. "Current Events". The Literary Digest. 30 May, 1908. Vol. XXXVI. No. 945. p. 809.
  11. Allen. Columbia's War. p. 120.
  12. Simpson. Mosquito Fleet. p. 36.


  • 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).
  • Jones, Gregory O. (2004). Herreshoff Sailboats. St. Paul: MBI.
  • 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.
  • Tupper, H. Allen. (1898). Columbia's War for Cuba. New York: P. B. Bromfield & Co.

Torpedo Boat U.S.S. Stiletto
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