US PRESIDENTIAL YACHTS
The first naval ship to carry the US presidential flag was the USS Dolphin. One of the first steel-bodied ships produced for the US Navy, it carried Presidents Grover Cleveland and William Mckinley from 1893 to 1897. After decommissioning, the first ever wireless-radio broadcast originated from her decks while she was docked at New York’s Brooklyn Navy Yard.
Mayflower, a recommissioned luxury steam yacht, was put into service on July 25, 1905, by President Theodore Roosevelt. Presidents Woodrow Wilson, Howard Taft and Herbert Hoover also used her before she was replaced in 1929 by the USS Potomac. FDR had the presidential seal emblazoned on the ship’s bow – now docked at Oakland, California. It offers regular cruises on San Francisco Bay.
The USS Williamsburg served as presidential yacht from 1945 to 1953, with Presidents Truman and Eisenhower, who after one voyage decommissioned her in 1953. Launched as Aras in 1930 she was owned by paper and railroad magnate Hugh Chisholm before being converted into a gunboat for WWII. Re-named Anton Bruun after a famous Dutch marine biologist, she became a floating restaurant before ending up in Spezia, Italy where she rusted and was eventually allowed to sink.
The largest and longest-lived of the presidential yachts is the USS Sequoia. The 104-foot executive cruiser was used by Commanders-in-chief from 1936 until Jimmy Carter sold her in 1977. After being restored, she became involved in a legal ownership stoush and is now rotting in Virginia.