On this day in 1933, President Herbert Hoover accepts the newly commissioned USS Sequoia as the official presidential yacht. For 44 years, the Sequoia served as an occasional venue for recreation and official gatherings for eight U.S. presidents.
Before it was commissioned as the presidential yacht in 1933, the Department of Commerce used the Sequoia as a decoy to catch Prohibition law-breakers. President Hoover, though, used the Sequoia to indulge his favorite pastime: fishing. In 1936, Franklin D. Roosevelt chose to use the USS Potomac as his yacht rather than the Sequoia, but during World War II, he and then-Supreme Allied Commander Dwight Eisenhower secretly met on the Sequoia to discuss D-Day invasion plans. Harry Truman entertained visitors with his piano-playing and poker games and John F. Kennedy celebrated his last birthday on the Sequoia. Lyndon B. Johnson allegedly liked to sit on the upper deck and watch movies projected on to the ship’s white smokestack. Both LBJ and Gerald Ford met with Congressional leaders and foreign dignitaries aboard the ship. In a private moment on board the Sequoia in 1974, Richard Nixon told his family that he had decided to resign rather than face impeachment.
When not functioning as the presidential yacht, the USS Sequoia also served as the official vessel of the secretary of the Navy. President Jimmy Carter was the last to use the Sequoia before selling it to a private firm in 1977. President Reagan is said to have considered using the ship on occasion in the 1980s, but never did. The Sequoia has since undergone expensive restoration efforts. She is currently owned by the non-profit Sequoia Foundation and serves as a historic charter vessel on the Potomac River.