Sequoia, the Presidential Yacht

^Top Image: The former presidential yacht Sequoia travels down the Potomac River near Washington D.C., in 2003. Credit: U.S. Navy

You have probably heard of Air Force One, the aircraft that carries the president of the United States. You have also probably seen the presidential state car, an armored limousine called Cadillac One, or “the Beast.” But did you know that there was once a presidential yacht? That’s right, the president was once furnished with a luxury boat—Sequoia—for personal and official use.

President Herbert Hoover first used Sequoia in the 1920’s, but he turned it over to the Department of Commerce for use as a decoy to catch bootleggers during Prohibition. After the end of Prohibition in 1933, the U.S. Navy commissioned USS (United States Ship) Sequoia as the official presidential yacht. Under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Sequoia soon returned to civilian status, and the commander-in-chief opted for USS Potomac, a sleeker U.S. Coast Guard cutter, as his presidential yacht.

Sequoia was relegated to the secretary of the Navy for a while, but presidents (who often came with their own yachts) continued to use the craft. Harry S. Truman enjoyed fishing from Sequoia in the Potomac River. Dwight D. Eisenhower lent the boat to Queen Elizabeth II during her first official state visit in 1957. Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Ford all enjoyed Sequoia for their personal use—including numerous parties—as well as for top-level meetings.

In 1977, as the United States was suffering through difficult economic times, President Jimmy Carter thought it best to discontinue use ofSequoia. He had the vessel sold as a symbolic cutback in federal spending, but Sequoia had occasional returns to duty under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush.

In recent years, Sequoia has fallen into disrepair, languishing in a Virginia dry dock. But just a few days ago, on Nov. 14, 2016, a Delaware judge approved the sale of the craft, clearing the way for its complete rehabilitation. With any luck, Sequoia will soon once again be sea worthy and ready for a history-filled visit.

Presidential vehicles currently in use include an armored bus known as Ground Force One, or “Stagecoach.” Military helicopters that carry the president variously earn the titles Army One, Coast Guard One, Marine One, or Navy One. Any civilian aircraft that carries the president is called Executive One.

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