In 1907, Lee DeForest convinced the U.S. Navy to purchase a quantity of arc-transmitter radiotelephone sets for use on its ships, but the sets had barely worked. It was only with the later development of vacuum-tube transmitters that radiotelephony became practical.
Annual Reports of the Navy Department for the Fiscal Year 1916, Josephus Daniels:




NAVY  DEPARTMENT,            
December 1, 1916.    

Pages 29-30:

    The Naval Radio Service was mobilized for tests on May 6, 7, and 8, 1916, when, in conjunction with the American Telephone & Telegraph Co., the Navy Department was connected by telephone and telegraph with all navy yards and radio stations in the United States. The result of such tests was so satisfactory that the department proposes to arrange for continuous direct long-distance service by telephone and telegraph circuits between the department and the principal navy yards on the Atlantic coast.
    Shortly before 4 p. m. of Saturday, May 6, there congregated in the office of the Secretary of the Navy a number of officers of the various departments, in addition to representatives and officials of the American Telephone & Telegraph Co., to witness the opening of the mobilization. After opening remarks by the vice president of the American Telephone & Telegraph Co., to which the Secretary replied, and a short address by the chief engineer of the American Telephone & Telegraph Co., communication was at once established by wireless telephone between the Secretary and the captain of the battleship New Hampshire, then at anchor off Fortress Monroe. The Secretary then gave orders to the ship for the next day's movements, this being the first occasion that a ship of the Navy was ever operated direct from the department by wireless telephone. Many receivers were fitted so that the guests present could hear the conversation. Thus was brought to reality the prediction made to the Secretary some time previously that the time would come when he could sit at his office desk and converse with the captain of a ship at sea. This demonstration was followed by talking to various naval stations, widely separated, by long-distance land line. The circuit used between the Secretary and the New Hampshire, at anchor off Hampton Roads, consisted of land-line communication to Radio, Va., and wireless from there to the New Hampshire. The return circuit was by wireless to the Norfolk naval radio station and thence by land line to Washington.
    On the following day, May 7, communication by wireless telephone was again carried out with the New Hampshire cruising between Hampton Roads and the southern drill grounds, and the communication was extended to include Mare Island. The commandant in his office at Mare Island conversed for some time with the captain of the New Hampshire. This was done by land line from Mare Island to Radio, Va., and thence by wireless telephone to the New Hampshire; returning, wireless telephone from the New Hampshire to Norfolk naval radio station, and thence by land line to Mare Island via the department. This wonderful achievement is but an earnest of further wonders which the future may develop in this art.