President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s USS Potomac

USS PotomacTonight I went for a three and a half hour cruise on the USS Potomac with my husband and members of his kayak club.

The Potomac was built in 1934 as a U.S. Coast Guard Cutter called Electra. “She was converted to serve as a presidential yacht and commissioned into the United States Navy in 1936. In the following years, Potomac was heavily used by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, for fishing trips and informal political meetings.”

In 1939, King George Vl and Queen Elizabeth joined the Roosevelts aboard the Potomac to George Washington’s home at Mt. Vernon. In 1945 after President Roosevelt’s death, she returned to the US Coast Guard. In 1964 Elvis Presley purchased the Potomac for $55,000. He gave it to St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis to sell as a fund raiser. The hospital sold it for $75,000. By 1980, drug smugglers used her, but the U.S. Customs Service possessed it  and towed her to Treasure Island, where she sank. The U.S. Navy refloated her and she was sold to the Port of Oakland for $15,000 where she was restored and then preserved by the Potomac Association. She’s available for tours and cruises on San Francisco Bay. The Potomac is berthed at Jack London Square in Oakland, CA. She’s called F.D.R.’s “Floating White House.”  She is one of three still existing presidential yachts.

Our cruise included a tour of the Potomac. I especially liked the Radio Room where we listened to one of F.D.R.’s recorded speeches and took pictures at the communications desk. The engine room was noisy, but nice and warm after standing on deck in the wind to get a better view going under the Golden Gate Bridge. The crew members are devoted to the Potomac. Some are retired volunteers who have been with her for years. The crew member who gave the tour said when it’s her turn to die, she wants to be on the Potomac.

I’m happy to have learned about Potomac, in fact she’d make a great character for a story.  USS Potomac Radio Room


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