SCHS Museum admission is FREE TO ALL VETERANS on Veterans Day!

The Staff & Board of the Suffolk County Historical Society

wish all of our members and supporters a happy Veterans Day 2022.


Photo of the Week


“How shall we know it is us without our past?”
– John Steinbeck 


Torpedo Boat Destroyer, Shelter Island, August 1903, by Hal B. Fullerton. (Image from the Harry T. Tuthill Fullerton Collection of the Suffolk County Historical Society Library Archives. Image © Suffolk County Historical Society. All rights reserved.) [ED: to view the Fullerton photo, please visit the SCHS website.]


A torpedo boat is a relatively small but fast naval ship designed to carry torpedoes into battle. The first designs rammed enemy ships with explosive spar torpedoes, whereas later designs launched self-propelled Whitehead torpedoes. They were created to counter battleships and other large, slow, and heavily armed ships by speed and agility. A large number of torpedo boats attacking simultaneously could overwhelm a larger ship’s ability to fight them off using its slower-firing guns. A fleet of torpedo boats could thereby defend against much larger fleets.

The introduction of fast torpedo boats in the late nineteenth century was a serious concern to navies of the era. In response, navies operating large ships introduced smaller ships to counter the threat. Initially, these were somewhat larger than the torpedo boats they faced, and mounted a light gun battery as well as torpedoes. As these designs became more formalized, they became known as torpedo boat destroyers–and these, in turn, evolved into the modern destroyer. Today the class is generally known as fast-attack craft.




Suffolk County Historical Society
300 West Main St.
Riverhead, NY 11901



AAQ / Resource: Townsend Manor Inn

Old Fashioned Hospitality