USS Sylph (front center) at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, circa late 1905
|Builder:||Delaware River Iron Shipbuilding and Engine Works|
|Commissioned:||18 Aug 1898|
|Decommissioned:||27 Apr 1929|
|Fate:||Sold privately, fate unknown|
|Length:||123 ft 8 in|
|Draft:||7 ft 6 in|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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., 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
USS Dolphin (PG-24) was a gunboat/dispatch vessel; the fourth ship of the United States Navy to be named for the dolphin. Dolphin's keel was laid down by John Roach & Sons of Chester, Pennsylvania. She was launched on 12 April 1884, with Captain George Dewey in command, and commissioned on 8 December 1885 with Captain R. W. Meade in command. Dolphin was the first Navy ship to fly the Flag of the President of the United States during President Chester A. Arthur's administration, and the second Navy ship to serve as a presidential yacht.
USS Dyess (DD/DDR-880), a Gearing-class destroyer, was a ship of the United States Navy named for Aquilla James Dyess (1909–1944). Dyess was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for his leadership of his battalion of Marines in the Battle of Kwajalein.
USS Potomac (AG-25), formerly USCGC Electra, was Franklin Delano Roosevelt's presidential yacht from 1936 until his death in 1945. In January 2016 USS Williamsburg was scrapped leaving USS Potomac and USS Sequoia as the last two still existing presidential yachts. On 3 August 1941, she played a decoy role while Roosevelt held a secret conference to develop the Atlantic Charter. She is now preserved in Oakland, California, as a National Historic Landmark and the only presidential yacht open to the public.
USS Sequoia is a former United States presidential yacht used from Herbert Hoover to Jimmy Carter, who had it sold in 1977. The ship was decommissioned under Roosevelt and lost its "USS" status at that time, but by popular convention the title is still often used. NorshipCo, a Norfolk-based shipbuilder and dry-docking company, repossessed the yacht after its owners, Presidential Yacht Sequoia Foundation, failed to pay the $3 million it cost to renovate the vessel. Sequoia was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987. The yacht is 104 feet (32 m) long, with a wooden hull, and was designed by John Trumpy Sr., a well-known shipbuilder. It includes a presidential stateroom, guest bedrooms, a galley and dining room, and was at one time retrofitted with an elevator for Franklin D. Roosevelt.
USS Carnelian (PY-19) was a converted yacht that patrolled with the United States Navy in World War II. She was named for carnelian.
The third USS Decatur (DD-341) was a Clemson-class destroyer in the United States Navy following World War I. She was named for Stephen Decatur.
USS Mayflower (PY-1) was the second ship in the United States Navy to have that name. Mayflower—a luxurious steam yacht built in 1896 by J. and G. Thompson, Clydebank, Scotland for millionaire Ogden Goelet who died on board the Mayflower in August 1897. Her sister ship, said to be almost identical and built at the same time and in the same yard for brother, Robert Goelet, later became USS Nahma (SP-771).
USS Williamsburg was a US Navy gunboat. A former private yacht, it also served as a presidential yacht from 1945 to 1953.
USS Sandoval (1895) was an Alvarado-class gunboat acquired by the United States Navy from the Spanish as a prize-of-war. Duties assigned her by the Navy included patrolling coastal and river waterways, and, later, acting as a "practice ship" for the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland and for the New York Naval Militia as well.
USCGC Cuyahoga (WIX-157) was an Active-class patrol boat built in 1927 which saw action in World War II. Cuyahoga sank after a night-time collision in the Chesapeake Bay while on patrol in 1978. She was later raised and re-sunk as an artificial reef off the Virginia coast and is now a popular recreational dive site.
The third USS Calypso (AG-35) was launched 6 January 1932 for the United States Coast Guard by the Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine and transferred from the Coast Guard to the US Navy on 17 May 1941 and commissioned the same day, Chief Boatswain J. H. Keevers in command.
USS Vixen (PY-4) was a yacht acquired by the U.S. Navy for operations in the Spanish–American War, where she served with distinction during the Battle of Santiago. She was commissioned again for duty during World War I when she was assigned to patrol the U.S. East Coast.
The seventh USS Wasp was the yacht former yacht Columbia purchased by the U.S. Navy serving from 1898 to 1919 with service in the Spanish–American War and World War I.
The sixth USS Niagara (SP-136), later PY-9, was a United States Navy patrol vessel in commission from 1918 to 1931 and which served during World War I.
The third Mohawk (YT‑17), later renamed YT-17 and YTL-17, was a tug that served in the United States Navy from 1898 to 1946.
The third USS Despatch was a United States Navy steamer in commission from 1873 to 1891.
The fifth USS Despatch (SP-68), later PY-8, originally USS Vixen (SP-68), was a yacht that served in the United States Navy as a tender from 1917 to 1919 and from 1920 to 1921.
USS Aramis (SP-418/PY-7) was a yacht acquired by the United States Navy during World War I which served as a patrol boat off New York City, was then fitted with an experimental "underwater detection system" and depth charges as an anti-submarine vessel, and was briefly the flagship of a battleship squadron. She ended her career as a tender and houseboat to a survey vessel off the coast of Cuba, until disposed of in 1933.
USS Tourmaline (PY-20) was a converted yacht that patrolled with the United States Navy in World War II.
The USLHT Holly was one of two Holly-class side wheel bay and sound tenders built in 1881 for service in the Chesapeake Bay region, the other being the Jessamine. Both ships in the class had composite hulls, with wood frames and iron sheathing, and were built by Malster & Reaney of Baltimore, Maryland. The original contract cost was estimated at $37,500 each. However, their actual cost upon completion was $41,911 each. The two ships replaced the lighthouse tenders Heliotrope and Tulip.