On June 4, 1917, a small fleet of six yachts left the New York Navy Yard and steamed slowly down the stream. This force, a handful of converted pleasure vessels, bore the official designation of the U. S. Patrol Squadrons Operating in European Waters and constituted the first American naval participation in the Great War, actually to be established in French waters. The yachts were:
and also included in this force, but temporarily under the orders of Rear-Admiral Gleaves, were the U.S.S. Corsair and the U.S.S. Aphrodite.
For over a month work had been pushed to the utmost to prepare the yachts for foreign service. Furnishings and decorations of peaceful days were removed and stored in Brooklyn warehouses. White sides and glittering brightwork were hidden under coats of battle gray. Fore and aft, three-inch guns were mounted, and guns of smaller caliber were located on the upper decks. Cutlasses and rifles lined bulkheads of paneled oak or mahogany. Everywhere about the ships improvised quarters, in former smoking-rooms, libraries and sun-parlors, housed crews expanded by war-time necessity to four or five times the original quota required to operate the yachts in time of peace.
The six yachts anchored until the morning of June 9, 1917 off Tompkinsville, S. I., New York, and at 5: 30 A.M. stood out to sea at a standard speed of ten knots, en route to Bermuda. On the twelfth of June, the force arrived at St. George's Bay, coaled; on the sixteenth again got under way and shaped a course for the Azores.
The yachts arrived at Brest, France, on the fourth of July, after a relatively uneventful voyage, where they found the Corsair and the Aphrodite, which had arrived ahead of them due to their greater size which enabled them to lay a direct transatlantic course. On July 14, 1917, the squadron commander, Captain W. B. Fletcher, U. S. N., with hi...