Haze Gray Photo Feature
Yacht Dolphin in 1891
She was built as a small cruiser, despatch boat or gunboat in 1884. From
1895 the outbreak of WWI she served as a "special despatch boat", frequently
carring the Secretary of the Navy and the President. She was sold in
1922, reportedly to Mexican interests, and named Plan De Guadalupe.
She is reported to have been scrapped in 1926.
Yacht Mayflower 2 August 1905 at the Russo-Japanese peace
This vessel was built as the yacht of Ogden Goelet, and was purchased
by the Navy in 1898 for service as a gunboat during the Spanish-American war.
In 1905 she hosted the Russo-Japanese peace conference. She then served as
Presidential yacht until 1929, when President Hoover ordered
the vessel decommissioned. She was sold and reconverted to a yacht, but was
taken into the Coast Guard during WWII as a patrol vessel. Postwar
she was sold and secretly outfitted to carry Jewish refugees from Europe
to Palestine. On 3 September 1948 she arrived at Haifa carrying the refuges
from Exodus, a refugee ship which had been turned back from
Palestine previously. Her subsequent fate is not recorded, but she
probably ended her days in a European scrapyard.
Another view of the yacht Mayflower in the early 1900's.
USCGC Mayflower (WPG 183) 18 February 1944.
Showing a dramatically altered appearance, Mayflower has become a
Coast Guard patrol gunboat. No hint of her former identity can be
Yacht Sequoia on the Potomac 22 November 1966.
Built in 1926 as a private yacht, Sequoia was purchased by the
Commerce Department for Prohibition patrol duties in 1931. In 1933 she
was acquired by the Navy as the presidential yacht. She served in this
capacity until replaced by Potomac in 1936. Sequoia then
served as the Secretary of the Navy's yacht until 1969, when she became a
dual-use yacht for the President and other high-ranking government
officials, replacing Williamsburg. In 1977 she was sold at
President Carter's orders. A private foundation acquired the yacht in
1985 with the intent of returning her to government service. Unfortunately
this foundation went bankrupt in 1988 and the yacht lay derilect for
nearly a decade. Eventually coming under the ownership of Norfolk
Shipbuilding & Drydock Co., Sequoia has been fully restored and
once again operates along the Potomac.
Yacht Potomac (AG 25) cruising on the Potomac River.
Built as the Coast Guard patrol boat Electra in 1934, she was taken
over by the Navy as a presidential yacht in 1935. In 1941 she was
condemned as unseaworthy due to added topside weight, but she was retained
in service until Williamsburg was available. Decommissioned in 1945,
she served the state of Maryland as a fisheries vessel from 1946 to
1960. After periods as an inter-island ferry in the Caribbean, and as a
floating museum dedicated to Franklin D. Roosevelt, she was puchased by
Elvis Presley in 1964 and donated to St. Jude's Hospital in Memphis, TN.
A series of owners followed, and in 1980 the yacht was seized on suspicion
of drug-running. Soon thereafter she sank in her berth, was salvaged by
the Navy, and was purchased by the Port of Oakland, CA. Potomac is
now owned by the Association for the Preservation of the Presidential
Yacht Potomac. She has been completely rebuilt and restored, and is
normally docked at FDR Pier, Jack London Square, Oakland, CA.
The yacht Williamsburg on the Potomac sometime after WWII.
Built in 1930 as the yacht Aras, she was acquired as a gunboat in
1941. During WWII she served mostly as a command/headquarters, transport and
VIP ship. Late in the war she started conversion to an amphibious
command ship, but the war soon ended and she instead became the new
presidential yacht, replacing Potomac.
President Truman boards Williamsburg in 1946
The yacht was decommissioned in 1953 per the orders of President
Eisenhower. Laid up from 1953 to 1962, she then served the National
Science Foundation until damaged in a drydocking accident in 1968.
She was subsequently sold to become a hotel/museum in New Jersey, but she
was instead laid up. In 1993 she was sent
to Genoa, Italy for conversion to a luxury cruise ship. However, these
plans were never realized.
By 1998 Williamsburg had deteriorated to this sad state, gutted
and awaiting scrapping, at La Spezia, Italy.
The former yacht was faced with imminent scrapping, but an urgent appeal
to the Italian government saved her, temporarily at least. An
organization has been formed with the goal of returning
Williamsburg to the US for restoration and preservation. The USS
Williamsburg Preservation Society may be contacted at 262 McLaws Circle,
Suite 203, Williamsburg, VA 23187. Photo courtesy
of the USS Williamsburg Preservation Society.
Another view of Williamsburg as she lay in June 1998.
of the USS Williamsburg Preservation Society.
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