Boating NZ - - Feature -

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.

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