(TB-6: dp. 165; l. 175'6"; b. 17'9"; dr. 4'8"; s. 29 k.; cpl. 32; a. 4 1-pdr.; 3 18" tt.; CL Porter)
The first Porter (TB-6) was laid down in February 1896 by Herreshoff Manufacturing Co., Bristol, R.I.: launched 9 September 1896, sponsored by Miss Agnes M. Herreshoff, and commissioned 20 February 1897 at Newport, R.I., Lt. John Charles Fremont in command.
Porter sailed to Washington, D.C. 27 February 1897 for inspection and was further examined 16-20 March at New York by the Chief of the Bureau of Navigation. She operated between New London and Newport; then visited New York from 15 July to 3 October before getting underway for her winter port, Charleston, S.C. Porter cruised in southern waters until 8 December and then proceeded to Key West where she was stationed 1-22 January 1898.
Porter arrived 26 January at Mobile for a visit but was ordered to return to Key West 6 March because of the tense situation in Cuba. When the United States declared war upon Spain she was already patrolling the waters off Key West and the Dry Tortugas. Porter returned to Key West 22 March for replenishment.
Porter departed Key West 22 April with the North Atlantic Fleet for the blockade of the north coast of Cuba. She soon made contact with the enemy, capturing two Spanish schooners, Sofia and Matilda, 23-24 April After refueling at Key West 2-7 May, Porter resumed blockade duty off Cape Haitian, Haiti keeping a watchful eye out for Cervera's squadron. She participated in the three-hour bombardment of San Juan 12-13 May with the 9 ships of Rear Admiral W. T. Sampson's fleet. During the attack Porter maintained a close position under the batteries with Detroit but was not hit.
Porter returned 13-14 May to the blockade of the north coast of Hispaniola, cruising off Samana Bay, Santo Domingo and off Porto Plata, Haiti. After a brief interval at Key West and Mobile (18-25 May), she joined Commodore Schley's squadron (1-11 June) off Santiago de Cuba where it had bottled up the elusive Spanish warships. Porter came under heavy fire 7 June while silencing the shore batteries but was undamaged. Later she supported (11-17 June) the Marine beachhead at Guantanamo Bay. Porter took up her station off Santiago 17 June and again 21-22 June when she bombarded the Socapa battery during the landings at Daiquiri. She continued patrolling off Guantanamo until 9 July when she left for New York via Key West.
Upon her arrival at the New York Navy Yard 19 July, Porter was placed in reduced commission and decommissioned 5 November 1898. She recommissioned 10 October 1899 at New York and served as a training ship for firemen at Newport, Norfolk and Annapolis. Porter decommissioned 21 December 1900 at New York. She was put in reserve commission in late 1901 at Norfolk with the Reserve Torpedo Flotilla and continued this duty through 1907.
Porter recommissioned 31 January 1908 at Norfolk, and was ordered to Pensacola 21 February. As flagship of the 3rd Torpedo Flotilla, she engaged in torpedo runs in St. Joseph's Bay, Fla. (4 March 22 April). Porter acted as naval escort to the remains of Governor De Witt Clinton in New York harbor 29 May 1908 before returning 1 July to the Reserve Torpedo Flotilla at Norfolk.
Porter recommissioned 14 May 1909 at Charleston, S.C., Lt. Harold R. Stark in command, and was assigned to the 3rd Division, Atlantic Torpedo Flotilla. She proceeded to Provincetown, Mass. 10 June for fleet exercises that lasted until 5 August. Porter departed 28 August for Hampton Roads and the Southern Drill Grounds, later joining the fleet at New York for the Hudson-Fulton Celebration 1-10 October. She was reassigned 14 November to the Reserve Torpedo Flotilla at Charleston where she remained until October 1911.
Porter sailed 30 October 1911 for New York where she took part in the fleet naval review 2 November for President Theodore Roosevelt. The President had ordered the mobilization "to test the preparedness of the fleet and the efficiency of our organization on the ships in the yards." Afterwards Porter returned to the Reserve Torpedo Flotilla at Philadelphia. She was mobilized in October 1912 for another review at New York which was inspected by the President 15 October.
Porter was struck from the Navy List 6 November 1912 and was sold to Andrew Olsen 30 December 1912 at New York.