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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
805 KIDDER BREESE SE -- WASHINGTON NAVY YARD
WASHINGTON DC 20374-5060

Sylph

 

III

 

(Converted Yacht: dp. 152 (n.); l. 123'8"  (wl.); b. 20'; dr. 7'6"; s. 15k.)

 

The third Sylph, a converted yacht, was purchased in June 1898 from her builder, John Roach & Co., of Chester, Pa.; and commissioned on 18 August 1898 at the Norfolk Navy Yard.

 

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 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, N.Y.; and President William Howard Taft used her for excursions off the New England coast during the summers of his term.

 

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

 

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 made 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 lower Chesapeake Bay to Hampton Roads.

 

Sylph continued in special service at Washington throughout her career. On 17 July 1921, she received the alpha numeric designation, PY-5. She continued to cruise 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. On 2 April 1929, she was taken in tow to Norfolk, Va. On the 27th, Sylph 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. Glair of Brooklyn, N.Y.