USS Potomac (AG-25)

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USS Potomac (AG-25)
USS Potomac at Oakland, California
USS Potomac at Oakland, California
Name: USCGC Electra
Builder: Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company, Manitowoc, Wisconsin
Laid down: 5 March 1934
Launched: 30 June 1934
Commissioned: 25 October 1934
Fate: Transferred to the Navy, 8 November 1935
Name: USS Potomac
Acquired: 8 November 1935
Commissioned: 1936
Decommissioned: 15 November 1945
Renamed: Potomac, 30 January 1936
Reclassified: AG-25, 11 November 1935
Struck: 25 February 1946
Fate: Returned to the Coast Guard, 23 November 1945
Status: Museum ship
General characteristics
Type: Thetis-class patrol boat
  • 370 long tons (376 t) light
  • 416 long tons (423 t) full
Length: 165 ft (50 m)
Beam: 23 ft 9 in (7.24 m)
Draft: 8 ft 1 in (2.46 m)
Speed: 13 knots (24 km/h; 15 mph)
Complement: 45
Armament: 1 × 3"/23 caliber gun
USS Potomac
USS Potomac (AG-25) is located in Oakland, California
USS Potomac (AG-25)
USS Potomac (AG-25) is located in California
USS Potomac (AG-25)
USS Potomac (AG-25) is located in the US
USS Potomac (AG-25)
Location Jack London Square, Oakland, California
Coordinates 37°47′43″N 122°16′48.4″W / 37.79528°N 122.280111°W / 37.79528; -122.280111Coordinates: 37°47′43″N 122°16′48.4″W / 37.79528°N 122.280111°W / 37.79528; -122.280111
Built 1934
NRHP reference # 87000068[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHP 20 February 1987
Designated NHL 14 December 1990[2]

USS Potomac (AG-25), formerly USCGC Electra,[3] was Franklin Delano Roosevelt's presidential yacht from 1936 until his death in 1945. In January 2016 the USS Williamsburg was scrapped leaving USS Potomac and USS Sequoia as the last two still existing presidential yachts.[2] 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.

Service history[edit]


Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt with George VI and Queen Elizabeth, sailing from Washington, D.C., to Mount Vernon on the USS Potomac (June 9, 1939)

Potomac was originally built in 1934 by the Manitowoc Ship Building Company, Manitowoc, Wisconsin as the United States Coast Guard Cutter 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. The second funnel is fake, and concealed the elevator used for raising Roosevelt in his wheelchair in the unlikely event of having to enter lifeboats on the roof; in 1939 the United Kingdom's King George VI and Queen Elizabeth travelled with the Roosevelts aboard Potomac to George Washington's home at Mount Vernon.

On 3 August 1941, President Roosevelt left Washington to board Potomac at the submarine base at New London. Potomac then sailed for Appogansett Bay where the President did some fishing and entertained guests including Crown Princess Märtha of Norway. Eventually Potomac anchored in Menemsha Bight in Vineyard Sound, where the heavy cruiser USS Augusta already lay at anchor. In the early hours of 5 August Potomac came alongside Augusta and the President and his party transferred to the warship. Augusta then proceeded at high speed to Newfoundland for a clandestine meeting with Winston Churchill. During this meeting, Roosevelt and Churchill agreed to the Atlantic Charter, agreeing to the principles of the Allied partnership during World War II and setting the scene for the United Nations to plan the post-war peace.

In the meantime and for security purposes, the President's flag continued to be flown from Potomac while she transited the Cape Cod Canal in New England waters. A Secret Serviceman, approximating the President in size and affecting his mannerisms when visible from a distance, played a starring role in the deception. Press releases issued daily from Potomac led all who read them to believe that the President was really embarked in his yacht on a pleasure cruise, after the meetings, Augusta returned the President to Potomac on 14 August.

After President Roosevelt's death, Potomac was decommissioned by the Navy, and returned to US Coast Guard custody in November 1945.


From 1946 she served with the Maryland Tidewater Fisheries Commission, and was sold to Warren G. Toone in April 1960 and used as a private ferry boat between Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

In January 1964 she was purchased by Elvis Presley for US$55,000. Presley offered it to the March of Dimes who could not use it, he then gave it to St. Jude Children's Hospital, in Memphis, to sell as a fund raiser. The hospital was able to sell it that same year for US$75,000. By 1980, she was involved in drug smuggling and was seized by the United States Customs Service in San Francisco, then towed to Treasure Island, where she sank.


After being refloated by the U.S. Navy just two weeks later, Potomac was sold to the Port of Oakland for $15,000 and underwent a major restoration, she is now preserved by the Potomac Association, and berthed at Jack London Square in Oakland. She is open to dockside tours and regular cruises on San Francisco Bay.

Potomac was used in June 2011 to film shipboard scenes of the Paul Thomas Anderson film The Master. Actors Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams and others shot scenes aboard the yacht while docked and under way.[4]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ National Park Service (2006-03-15). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ a b "NHL Summary document". National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-11-11. 
  3. ^ Delgado, James P. (1 June 1990) [1987]. "Maritime Heritage of the United States NHL Theme Study—Large Vessels / Potomac (Presidential Yacht)" (pdf). National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-09-08. 
    "Accompanying Photos" (pdf). National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-09-08. 
  4. ^ Lussier, Germain (14 June 2011). "Literal Set Photos From Paul Thomas Anderson's Latest". Slashfilm. Retrieved 2012-11-10. 

External links[edit]