The post card was mailed to a
Miss Sabra Bennett in Pawtucket, RI from her son George on July 28,
1908 and the message reads:
I got home all right last
night. glat (glad) to get home once more. Everett was
very glad to see me - From Your Little boy George.
Although this postcard was dated
and sent in July of 1908; The Porpoise was in Newport, RI only during
the years 1903 and 1904. In 1908 Porpoise was headed for
the Pacific and the Philippine Islands. There is an interesting horse
drawn tanker wagon depicted at the upper right of the post card. The
tank could have been for supplying fresh water or for removing
waste/pumping out sanitary tanks.
HISTORY OF THE USS PORPOISE
The keel of the USS Porpoise,
(Submarine Torpedo Boat Nr. 7)
was laid on December 13, 1900 at Elizabethport, New Jersey
at Lewis Nixon's Crescent Shipyard. Nixon was a
subcontractor for the John P. Holland torpedo Boat Company
of New York. The vessel was sponsored by Mrs. E. B. Frost and launched
on September 23, 1901. The USS Porpoise was commissioned at the
Holland Yard in New Suffolk, New York on September 1903 with
Lieutenant Charles P. Nelson in command.
The Submarine Torpedo
Boat was initially assigned to Naval Torpedo Station - Newport,
Rhode Island for experimental torpedo firing work. Porpoise
entered the New York Navy Yard in September 1904 for repairs and
alterations, remaining there until February 1906. On March 7, 1907,
Porpoise was assigned to the First Torpedo Flotilla and
operated from Annapolis, Maryland providing training and
instruction naval cadets, until June 1907.
Porpoise was taken to
the New York Navy Yard and decommissioned on April 21,
1908. She was then partially disassembled and loaded onto the after
well deck of the collier Caesar for a voyage to the
Philippine Islands as deck cargo along with her sister ship
Torpedo Boat No. 8) via
the Suez Canal.
Arriving at the Naval
Station at Cavite, Porpoise was reassembled, launched on July 8, 1908
and recommissioned on November 20. Because of the small size of the
Porpoise Class Boats, officers and men lived on board the gunboat
In April 1909,
Ensign. Kenneth Whiting, a future naval aviation pioneer
became Porpoise's commanding officer. On April 15 Whiting and his crew
of six took the submarine out for what was to be a routine run.
Porpoise got underway, cleared the dock and moved out into Manila Bay.
She dove soon thereafter and leveled off at a depth of 20 feet. Only
then did Ensign Whiting reveal his intentions to the crew.
Convinced that a man
could escape from a submarine through the torpedo tube, Whiting
determined that he was going to try and test his theory with himself
as a guinea pig. Squeezing into the 18-inch diameter tube, he clung to
the crossbar which stiffened the outer torpedo tube door, as the crew
closed the inner door. When the outer door was opened and water rushed
in Whiting hung onto the crossbar that drew his elbows out of the
tube's mouth, and then muscled his way out using his hands and arms,
the entire evolution consuming 77 seconds. He then swam to the
surface, Porpoise surfacing soon thereafter. Ensign Whiting then
informed his flotilla commander, Lieutenant Guy W. S. Castle,
who submitted a report on how the feat had been accomplished. In
Porpoise's log that day, Whiting had simply commented:
"Whiting went through the torpedo
tube, boat lying in (the) water in (a)
normal condition, as an experiment ...."
On December 9, 1909,
Porpoise became a unit of the First Submarine Division, Asiatic
Torpedo Fleet and commenced a routine of local operations out
of Cavite during the following ten years. Renamed A-6
(Submarine Torpedo Boat
No. 7) on November 17,
1911; she patrolled the entrance to Manila Bay and convoyed vessels
out of port during World War I under the command of Lieutenant
A. H. Bailey. Submarine A6 was decommissioned on December 12,
1919 and turned over to the Commandant of the Naval Station at Cavite,
for disposal. Given the alphanumeric hull number SS-7 on
July 17, 1920; Submarine A-6 was authorized for use as a target in
July 1921 and removed from the Naval Register January 16, 1922.
American Naval Fighting Ships (1959-1991)
U.S. Navy Ship 20th Century Historical Database