USS Sylph (PY-5)

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USS Sylph PY-5.jpg
USS Sylph (front center) at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, circa late 1905
US flag 48 stars.svgUnited States
Name: USS Sylph
Builder: Delaware River Iron Shipbuilding and Engine Works
Yard number: 295
Completed: 1898
Acquired: June 1898
Commissioned: 18 Aug 1898
Decommissioned: 27 Apr 1929
Fate: Sold privately, fate unknown
General characteristics
Type: Steam yacht
Displacement: 152 tons
Length: 123 ft 8 in
Beam: 20 ft
Draft: 7 ft 6 in
Speed: 15 knots

USS Sylph (PY-5) was a steam yacht that served as a presidential yacht from the late 19th century through to the early 1920s. A converted yacht, she was purchased in June 1898 from her builder, the Delaware River Iron Shipbuilding and Engine Works, of Chester, Pennsylvania, and commissioned on 18 August 1898 at the Norfolk Navy Yard. She was the third U.S. Navy ship to bear the name.

Steam yacht type of yacht

A steam yacht is a class of luxury or commercial yacht with primary or secondary steam propulsion in addition to the sails usually carried by yachts.

Presidential yacht may refer to a naval vessel of a country's navy that would be specially used by the country's president. It is common for a vessel to be designated as the presidential yacht during a fleet review.

Yacht recreational boat or ship

A yacht is a watercraft used for pleasure or sports. The term originates from the Dutch word jacht, and was originally referencing light fast sailing vessels that the Dutch Republic navy used to pursue pirates and other transgressors around and into the shallow waters of the Low Countries. The yacht was popularized by Charles II of England as a pleasure or recreation vessel following his restoration in 1660.


Service history

Soon after commissioning, Sylph was assigned to the Washington Navy Yard, where she served as a yacht for the President and other high officials. President McKinley was the first President to use her. In 1902, she began alternating with first Dolphin then Mayflower as the President's yacht, and she also served the Secretary and Assistant Secretary of the Navy in the same manner. President Theodore Roosevelt frequently cruised in Sylph to his summer place at Oyster Bay, New York, and President William Howard Taft used her for excursions off the New England coast during the summers of his term.

Washington Navy Yard former shipyard and ordnance plant of the United States Navy

The Washington Navy Yard (WNY) is the former shipyard and ordnance plant of the United States Navy in Southeast Washington, D.C. It is the oldest shore establishment of the U.S. Navy.

President of the United States Head of state and of government of the United States

The President of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of government of the United States of America. The president directs the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces.

William McKinley 25th president of the United States

William McKinley was the 25th president of the United States, serving from March 4, 1897, until his assassination six months into his second term. During his presidency, McKinley led the nation to victory in the Spanish–American War, raised protective tariffs to promote American industry and kept the nation on the gold standard in a rejection of free silver.

More often, Sylph cruised up and down the Potomac River, near Washington, D.C.. She went on sightseeing excursions in Chesapeake Bay and to George Washington's home at Mount Vernon, Virginia, on the Potomac just below Washington. Among her famous passengers, the yacht numbered the King of Belgium and the Crown Prince of Sweden.

Potomac River river in the mid-Atlantic United States

The Potomac River is located within the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States and flows from the Potomac Highlands into the Chesapeake Bay. The river is approximately 405 miles (652 km) long, with a drainage area of about 14,700 square miles (38,000 km2). In terms of area, this makes the Potomac River the fourth largest river along the Atlantic coast of the United States and the 21st largest in the United States. Over 5 million people live within the Potomac watershed.

Washington, D.C. Capital of the United States

Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington or D.C., is the capital of the United States. Founded after the American Revolution as the seat of government of the newly independent country, Washington was named after George Washington, first President of the United States and Founding Father. As the seat of the United States federal government and several international organizations, Washington is an important world political capital. The city is also one of the most visited cities in the world, with more than 20 million tourists annually.

Chesapeake Bay An estuary in the U.S. states of Maryland and Virginia

The Chesapeake Bay is an estuary in the U.S. states of Maryland and Virginia. The Bay is located in the Mid-Atlantic region and is primarily separated from the Atlantic Ocean by the Delmarva Peninsula with its mouth located between Cape Henry and Cape Charles. With its northern portion in Maryland and the southern part in Virginia, the Chesapeake Bay is a very important feature for the ecology and economy of those two states, as well as others. More than 150 major rivers and streams flow into the Bay's 64,299-square-mile (166,534 km2) drainage basin, which covers parts of six states and all of Washington, D.C.

Woodrow Wilson was the last President to use Sylph as the presidential yacht. After his term of office, she operated from the Washington Navy Yard for the Secretary and Assistant Secretary of the Navy and often marked pleasure cruises to Mount Vernon with patients of the Naval Hospital embarked. On 24 January 1921, she was called upon to carry the body of the late minister of Sweden down the Potomac and through the over Chesapeake Bay to Hampton Roads.

Woodrow Wilson 28th president of the United States

Thomas Woodrow Wilson was an American statesman and academic who served as the 28th president of the United States from 1913 to 1921. A member of the Democratic Party, Wilson served as the president of Princeton University and as the 34th governor of New Jersey before winning the 1912 presidential election. As president, he oversaw the passage of progressive legislative policies unparalleled until the New Deal in 1933. He also led the United States during World War I, establishing an activist foreign policy known as "Wilsonianism."

Hampton Roads Metropolitan area in the United States

Hampton Roads is the name of both a body of water that serves as a wide channel for the James, Nansemond and Elizabeth rivers between Old Point Comfort and Sewell's Point where the Chesapeake Bay flows into the Atlantic Ocean and the surrounding metropolitan region located in the Southeastern Virginia and Northeastern North Carolina portions of the Tidewater region.

Sylph continued in special service at Washington throughout her career. On 17 July 1921, she received the alphanumeric designation, PY-5. She continued to cross the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers until 19 November 1928, when she moored at the Washington Navy Yard to remain for the rest of her career.

Anacostia River tributary of the Potomac River in Maryland and Washington, D.C.

The Anacostia River is a river in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States. It flows from Prince George's County in Maryland into Washington, D.C., where it joins with the Washington Channel to empty into the Potomac River at Buzzard Point. It is approximately 8.7 miles (14.0 km) long. The name "Anacostia" derives from the area's early history as Nacotchtank, a settlement of Necostan or Anacostan Native Americans on the banks of the Anacostia River.

Decommission and sale

On 2 April 1929, Sylph was taken in tow to Norfolk, Virginia. On the 27th, she was decommissioned there, and her name was struck from the Navy list two days later. On 26 November 1929, her hulk was sold to Mr. Frank B. Clair of Brooklyn, New York.

Norfolk, Virginia Independent city in Virginia, United States

Norfolk is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. At the 2010 census, the population was 242,803; in 2017, the population was estimated to be 244,703 making it the second-most populous city in Virginia after neighboring Virginia Beach.

Fishing career

Advertisement for fishing on the Sylph Slyph.JPG
Advertisement for fishing on the Sylph

Later, the Sylph served as a deep sea fishing vessel, open to the public and operating out of Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. She later sank in a storm during a fishing voyage.

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