Dallas Maritime Museum Foundation

About the Presidential Yacht USS Sequoia

USS Sequoia is a former United States presidential yacht used from Herbert Hoover to Jimmy Carter, who had it sold in 1977.

Sequoia started out as Sequoia II, a private yacht built for $200,000 in 1925/1926 at a Camden, New Jersey shipyard. She was built for Richard Cadwalader of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who sold her to William Dunning, the president of the Sequoia Oil Company in Texas.

Sequoia was purchased in 1931 by the United States Department of Commerce, for Prohibition patrol and decoy duties. Bootleggers would see what they thought was a rich-man's yacht and boat over to offer to sell illegal liquor, and then undercover police would arrest them. Herbert Hoover, an avid fisherman, had decommissioned the presidential yacht Mayflower in 1929 as an economy measure, and borrowed Sequoia from the Commerce Department as an unofficial yacht during the last two years of his presidency. Hoover was not personally a supporter of prohibition and drank while on the yacht.[3]

In 1933, Sequoia was transferred to the United States Navy, where she was commissioned and given her USS status, serving officially as the presidential yacht for three years, until replaced by the Potomac.

She was decommissioned as an official Navy vessel under Roosevelt during WWII, supposedly because Churchill would not drink liquor on a Navy boat, and she remained decommissioned since.[3] A more likely reason is that alcoholic beverages are prohibited on commissioned U.S. Navy ships and by being "in service", rather than commissioned, the users of the Sequoia could technically not violate the prohibition.

From 1936 through 1969 Sequoia then became the yacht of the Secretary of the Navy. During this period Sequoia was used by presidents and other high-ranking government officials. From 1969 through 1977 the yacht was dual-use for the Navy and executive branch officials including the president.

At Jimmy Carter's direction, the US government sold Sequoia at auction in Manalapan, Florida on 18 May 1977, for $286,000,[6] as a symbolic cutback in Federal Government spending (annual cost to the US Navy was $800,000) and to help eliminate signs of an "imperial presidency".[7]

Notable events aboard Sequoia include: