Name Length Year Built/Lost Presidential Service Years
1 River Queen 181 1864-1911 1865-1866
2 USS Despatch 198 1873-1891 1880-1891
3 USS Dolphin 256 1884-1927 1893-1914
4 USS Sylph 123 1890-? 1898-early 1920's
5 USS Mayflower 273 1896-1955 1906-1929
6 USS Sequoia 104 1925 1931-1977
7 USS Potomac 165 1934 1936-1945
8 USS Williamsburg 245 1930-2015 1945-1953
9 Honey Fitz (ex-Lenore, ex-Barbara Anne) 93 1931 1945-1970
10 Manitou (Kennedy sailing yacht) 62 1937 1961-1968

 


1. River Queen

Served Grant and Lincoln, 1865-1866

River Queen
River Queen was a sidewheel steamer which became closely associated with President Abraham Lincoln and General Ulysses S. Grant while operating on the Potomac River, and was used for an unsuccessful peace conference during the last year of the American Civil War. Later she operated as a ferry serving the islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket during the late 19th century. Late in her career, she returned to the Potomac as an excursion vessel, and in 1911, was destroyed in a fire.


2. USS Despatch, 1873

Served Cleveland, 1880-1891

USS Despatch
Despatch was the commercial steamer America when the U.S. Navy purchased her in November 1873 at New York City. She was frequently used by the President, as well as by the Secretary of the Navy and other members of the United States Cabinet, Congressional committees, members of naval boards conducting inspections, and for varied ceremonial duties. One of the most important of these ceremonial events occurred on 28 October 1886 when she transported President Grover Cleveland, his private secretary, and three members of his cabinet, to and from Bedloe's Island in New York Harbor for the dedication and unveiling of the Statue of Liberty on 28 October 1886.

Despatch was lost in a gale off the Virginia coast. She was returning to Washington, D.C. from New York with crew only. All her crew were rescued safely.


3. USS Dolphin 1884

USS Dolphin 1884

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.


4. USS Sylph, 1890

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.


5. USS Mayflower, 1896

USS Mayflower

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.  The following year she was purchased by the U.S. Navy to help fight the Spanish Navy off Cuba. 

Around 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt had her re-purposed as a presidential yacht, which could be used to conduct diplomacy in addition to serving as a nautical means of transportation for the Commander-in-Chief. With her long bowsprit, tall masts, elegant lines, and white paint, she was sure to make a good impression on visiting foreign diplomats. In fact, that same year aboard the ship President Roosevelt hosted the formal negotiations between Russia and Japan to end the Russo-Japanese War. The Mayflower continued to serve as the presidential yacht under Presidents Taft, Wilson, Harding, and Coolidge.

One of Herbert Hoover's early acts as president was to dispense with Mayflower as an economy measure, saving upkeep costs of $300,000 per year.
(More about Mayflower at the Coolidge Foundation.)


6. USS Sequoia, 1925

USS Sequoia

sequoia sealUSS 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 is still often used.

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 (Lyndon Johnson had it removed and replaced with a liquor bar).

The ship was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987.

Following years of neglect and legal battles over ownership, Sequoia is last reported to be in extremely poor condition in Chesapeake Boat Works in Deltaville, Virginia (2017). Her owners estimate that removal of the yacht would require a specialized crane and complete reconstruction of the hull.


7. USS Potomac, 1934

USS Potomac at Oakland, CA

USS Potomac (AG-25), formerly USCGC Electra, was Franklin Delano Roosevelt's presidential yacht from 1936 until his death in 1945. A National Historic Landmark, Potomac is now berthed in Oakland, CA, and is available for public tours and cruises. https://www.usspotomac.org

Potomac is also an Honorary Member of the CYA.


8. USS Williamsburg, 1930

USS Williamsburg

The USS Williamsburg  relieved Potomac as presidential yacht on 10 November 1945. She served Presidents Truman and Eisenhower.

During Truman’s tenure, she embarked such American and foreign notables as Secretary of State George Marshall, President Miguel Alemán of Mexico; and two successive British Prime Ministers, Winston Churchill and Clement Attlee. During the ship's first tour as presidential yacht, she cruised the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay regions, while occasionally venturing into the open sea for cruises to Florida, Bermuda, Cuba, and the Virgin Islands.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower, made only one cruise in Williamsburg before ordering her decommissioned.  Accordingly decommissioned at the Washington Navy Yard on 30 June 1953, she was turned over to the Potomac River Naval Command for maintenance and preservation. Subsequently shifted to Newport, Rhode Island, she remained in "special status" from about 2 April 1959. Williamsburg was struck from the Navy list on 1 April 1962.


9. Honey Fitz, 1931

Honey Fitz

The 93-foot wooden yacht was originally built in 1931 by Defoe Shipyard in Bay City, Michigan for Sewell Avery, a prominent businessman from Chicago, who mostly used it to cruise around Lake Michigan. On June 23, 1945, Lenore became a tender for the USS Potomac. Retaining the yacht’s original name, Truman renamed the tender the yacht Lenore II and mainly used her as a tender for the Williamsburg.

Eisenhower decided the Williamsburg was “too rich for my blood,” and retired her, choosing instead the Lenore II, which he renamed Barbara Anne after one of his granddaughters.

The wooden yacht acquired a more public profile in the 1960’s during John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s presidency. JFK renamed her Honey Fitz, the nickname used by his maternal grandfather.

Johnson continued to use the yacht during his administration, mainly for dinner and cocktail parties.

By the time Nixon came to office, the Honey Fitz was a well-known yacht. Although Nixon renamed the yacht Patricia after his wife, the press and indeed everyone, continued to think of the yacht as Honey Fitz. Nixon sold Honey Fitz in 1970.

Honey Fitz has been fully restored and is available for charters in Florida. Honey Fitz Facebook page


10. Manitou, 1937

Manitou is a 62-foot-long performance cruising yacht designed and built for racing. She served as J.F.K.'s yacht during his presidency. She was built in 1937 at the M. M. Davis & Son shipyard in Solomons Island, Maryland, Design No. 99 of naval architects Sparkman & Stephens, who built many America's Cup racing yachts.

After a successful racing career, Manitou was sold in 1955 and donated to the US Coast Guard to be used as a training vessel at the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut.

President Kennedy used Manitou while he was in office. Manitou was returned to private ownership in 1968 when she became a training vessel for the Harry Lundenburg School of Seamanship in Maryland.

She had an extensive refit in 2011, and is now in the Medeterranean and available for charter on the French Riveira.

 


U.S. State Yachts

1. Washington State: Olympus, 1929

M/V Olympus (ex-Junaluska)

Launched as "Junaluska" in 1929, the yacht came west in the thirties and was used by the military in WWII.  Following the war she was acquired by the State of Washington and renamed Olympus.  She was ostensibly intended as a fisheries patrol vessel, but was actually used as a yacht by the governor, Mon Walgren.  After failing to win re-election in 1948, the state sold the yacht. 

Current location: New York