A "Mosquito Fleet"

In regards to the evolution of the Motor Launch in filling a new requirement for a small, fast, capable craft I think Chatterton and Nutting detail it better than I could. Below are their thoughts.
AMONG the surprises of the Great War, perhaps none was greater than the necessity for, and the dependence on, an improvised Navy. Prior to August, 1914, naval students had thought in terms of battleships, battle-cruisers, cruisers, destroyers, submarines. The Royal Navy was a close-preserve, self-contained, inspired by centuries of tradition, trained up to the highest pitch, sufficient for any job that might be called forth.

Its connection with the rest of the seafaring service was but slight. This was the age of the specialist: between the Fighting Sailor and all others there was an impassable bulkhead which became a permanent fixture as soon as iron, steel, steam, big guns, and armour plate were accepted. A hundred years ago there was very little difference between an East Indiaman and one of His Majesty's corvettes in respect of hulls, guns, discipline, officers, or men. Then, with the progress of machinery and invention, the Merchant Service and the Royal Navy developed on separate lines, until, by the summer of 1914, they were never further apart. It was then that the big international catastrophe brought them together again in the most curious manner.

Two and a half years before the war I remember being the guest of a very distinguished admiral aboard his flagship. I ventured to put forward the opinion that it was a pity the magnificent seamanhood of our fishing fleets could not be organized to assist the Navy in the event of war. The reply was not surprising. These hearty, excellent fishermen were perfect at their own job, but they would be useless in these day of modern fighting-ships, and there would be the inevitable difficulty in regard to discipline. It was a curious coincidence that withinthree years of that conversation, trawlers manned by fishermen, duly enrolled under the White Ensign, were at sea off this very port. By a further coincidence Ifound myself a little later destined to be on anti-submarine patrol from the same port, in command of H.M. Drifter, Daisy VI., with a splendid rough crew of Scotch fishermen; a gun mounted for'ard, a hold full of rapid-laying nets for trapping U-boats; bombs, rifles, and other war-like devices. For the next two years I never went in or out of this harbour without thinking of that conversation. It was my privilege to be serving under that very distinguished admiral!

We shall see presently how the great change came. It surprised us all. It was amazing in its unexpected results. To think that untrained men in peace-built craft should become, not a nuisance, but a necessity to the Royal Navy - to be not merely the assistants, but the protectors of the capital ships, was a tremendous mental shock. No one was more astounded than the Admiralty, and for quite a time the daring experiment was regarded with suspicion, at times even with amusement. But a more glorious and successful sea-adventure was never conceived; so that, within two months of the cessation of hostilities, the Admiralty sent to the Auxiliary Patrol their lordships' `appreciation of the admirable work performed during the war by yachts, whalers, trawlers, drifters, motor-launches and motor-boats,' and went on to remark that `this new navy of small craft, created by the special needs of the war, has proved the vitality of the British instinct for the sea, and of the adventurous spirit of the "Scowre-sea Navy" in the days of the old sailing ships.'

The Auxiliary Patrol

To quote from Nutting (with an unsurprising, decidedly American slant):
Back in 1914 America, the big, more-or-less neutral bystander, startled and fascinated by what was happening on the other side of the Atlantic, began to develop an interest in the scrap and to shout suggestions to John Bull. John, fat and somewhat out of training, was taking a lot of punishment on those selfsame waves that he had been ruling for so long.

These suggestions were numerous and many of them proved of service, but the best of them was this: "Why don't you go after the pirates with a fleet of fast motor boats?"

Probably John Bull already had been thinking along this line himself for he had mobilized his trawlers and his yachts and his motor craft early in the war, but at any rate his boat yards could not turn out a job of this size. Standardized Chasers might be all right and they might not, but other definite things were needed and his shipyards were having all they could handle to produce these things without experimenting with something doubtful.

By the spring of 1915 the submarine situation had become so grave that the Lords of the Admiralty decided that something had to be done and done quickly. From the frequent and audacious sinkings, some of them at the very mouths of the English harbors, and the toll already taken from the British fleet itself, it was plain that a large and powerful Navy was not the solution of the problem. Neither were the thousands of trawlers, and other auxiliary craft patrolling the waters of the British Isles, able to check the growing menace.

It was not long after this that a steamship arrived in New York harbor bearing a commission of prominent British engineers on a quest for boats, and they frankly solicited the co-operation and advice of those whose experience might be of service. America, through John P. Holland, had given to the world the most terrible of all the deadly implements of modern warfare and now America was called upon to devise a means for its destruction.

The Cinderellas of the Fleet

Starting with this introduction Nutting provides the background events and reasons leading to the involvement of both Elco and the Standard Motor Construction Company. Indeed, he relates that the delegation of engineers from England proceeded immediately to the Standard Motor factories on the very evening of their debarkation in New York. The lights were left on late just for this visit. Clearly it had been decided that this was the best choice for providing the engines that would be required by the soon-to-be-devised Motor Launch.