Sea Cloud

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Sea Cloud.jpg
Career (USA) 100x35px
Name: USCGC Sea Cloud (WPG-284)
Owner: Joseph E. Davies
Builder: Germaniawerft shipyard, Kiel, Germany
Launched: 1931
Acquired: Chartered from Joseph E. Davies for $1.00 on January 2, 1942
Commissioned: April 4, 1942
Decommissioned: April 9, 1943
Fate: transferred to the United States Navy
Notes: Served with the first racially integrated crew in the United States Armed Forces, under the command of Lieutenant Carlton Skinner
Career 100x35px
Name: USS Sea Cloud (IX-99)
Commissioned: April 9, 1943
Decommissioned: November 4, 1944
Fate: Returned to private ownership with $175,000 for conversion back to pre-war appearance
General characteristics
Class and type: United States Coast Guard Cutter
Displacement: 3,077 tons (in 1942)
Length: 316 ft (96 m)
Beam: 49 ft 2 in (14.99 m)
Draft: 19 ft (5.8 m)
Propulsion: Diesel-electric twin shaft engine
Speed: 14 knots (26 km/h)
Complement: 21 officers, 1 warrant, 13 chief petty officers, 160 enlisted men
Sensors and
processing systems:
Three radars:
ET 80198-2-22MC
ET 8010C 375-500 KC
ET 8012B 2100 - 3000 KC
Echo ranging equipment
Range recorder
Sub-Sig Fathometer
  • 2 × 3"/50
  • 8 × 20mm/80
  • 4 × K-guns
  • 1 × "Mark X" Hedgehog
  • 2 × depth charge tracks; 44 total depth charges carried on board.

USCGC Sea Cloud (WPG-284) was a weather ship for the United States Coast Guard and United States Navy during World War II. The ship served as the first racially integrated warship in the United States Armed Forces since the American Civil War.[1] Originally a private yacht, she was transferred to the Coast Guard and then to the Navy during World War II. Following the war, Sea Cloud was returned to private ownership, serving as a yacht for numerous people, including Dictator of the Dominican Republic Rafael Trujillo. The ship currently sails as a cruise ship based out of Europe.


Sea Cloud was built in Kiel, Germany as a Barque for E. F. Hutton & Co..[2] She was launched in 1931 as the Hussar II; at the time of her construction, she was the largest private yacht in the world.[3] In 1935, United States Ambassador to the Soviet Union Joseph E. Davies obtained the ship after marrying Hutton's ex-wife Marjorie Merriweather Post.[3] Davies renamed the ship Sea Cloud.[2] As a man with political influence, Davies entertained many high profile people on the ship, including Queen Elisabeth of Belgium.[3] The ship even served as an informal embassy, as Soviet and United States officials stayed and met on the vessel.[4]

Coast Guard service

Davies had first offered the ship to the Department of the Navy in 1941, but the Navy turned him down. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt objected to the ship entering service, remarking that she was too beautiful to be sacrificed.[5] However, on January 7, 1942, the Navy reassessed their position, chartering the ship for $1 per year.[2] The Navy sent Sea Cloud from Georgetown, South Carolina, to the United States Coast Guard Yard in Curtis Bay, Maryland, to be refitted as a "weather observation station vessel", and had its masts removed.[2][4] The Sea Cloud was commissioned as a United States Coast Guard Cutter on April 4, 1942, and assigned to the Eastern Sea Frontier, with a permanent home port in Boston.[2]

During 1942, Sea Cloud mostly served as a weather ship at Weather Patrol Station Number Two (position 52°0′N 42°30′W / 52°N 42.5°W / 52; -42.5). On June 6, 1942, the ship rescued eight survivors from the schooner Maria da Gloria.[2] On August 3, 1942 and August 4, 1942, the Sea Cloud served at Weather Patrol Station Number One while USS Manhasset was converted to a weather ship.[2]

Naval service

In 1943, the Navy asked for control of Sea Cloud and Nourmahal, another former yacht converted into a weather ship. On April 9, 1943, the United States Navy commissioned Sea Cloud as USS Sea Cloud (IX-99), though she maintained a Coast Guard crew.[2] She was assigned to Task Force 24.

Relieving Template:USCGC in February 1944, Sea Cloud patrolled a one-hundred square mile area near the New England coast, generating weather reports for the First Naval District. On February 27, 1944, Sea Cloud travelled to be refurbished at Atlantic Yard in East Boston, afterwards taking over a new one-hundred square mile area at Weather Station Number One.[2]

On April 5, 1944, Sea Cloud received radar indication of a small target at position 39°27′N 62°30′W / 39.45°N 62.5°W / 39.45; -62.5, bearing 350° at 3,000 yards (2,700 m).[2] General quarters were sounded and battle stations manned, but contact was lost ten minutes later. The target was identified as a submarine, but after Sea Cloud carried out standard anti-submarine drills with no evidence of damage being inflicted, she returned to port.[2]

After minor repairs, Sea Cloud was rebased to Argentia, Newfoundland, where she was assigned to Weather Station Number Three. While patrolling the area on June 11, 1944, the crew spotted a Navy TBF Avenger, exchanging recognition signals. Sea Cloud received orders to report to the Croatan and join the five other escort ships under her command. The envoy searched for a raft reported in the area, but returned with no sightings. After this event, Sea Cloud was once again reassigned to Weather Station Number Four. After a search for a downed aircraft, she returned to port in Boston. Sea Cloud was decommissioned on November 4, 1944 at the Bethlehem Steel Atlantic Yard and returned to Davies, along with $175,000 for conversion to pre-war appearance.[2]


In late 1944, Lieutenant Carlton Skinner took command of the ship, after previously serving as executive officer in November 1944. At that time, black seamen were only permitted to serve as ship stewards. After witnessing a black man save the crew of the Template:USCGC yet still be denied promotion because of the rule, Skinner proposed an experiment. Skinner submitted his plan to the Secretary of the Navy and was allowed to sail his first weather patrol with a fully integrated crew.[6] Within a few months, fifty black sailors, including two officers, were stationed aboard the Sea Cloud.[2] Skinner requested that the experiment not be publicized and the ship not be treated differently from other ships in the task force. Skinner showed that his integrated crew could work just as efficiently as a segregated crew, if not more so, when his crew passed two fleet inspections with no deficiencies.[2]

Return to civilian service

File:Sea Cloud I.jpg
Sea Cloud as a cruise ship, sailing near France on September 10, 2007.

Following its return, Sea Cloud received a reassembled rigging in 1947, and a new set of twenty-nine sails in 1949.[7] She was painted white, and a gold eagle painted on the bow. The ship's reconstruction took nearly four years. After evaluating the cost of running a 72-person crew, Post decided to sell the ship.[3]

Presidential yacht

Rafael Trujillo, dictator of the Dominican Republic, purchased Sea Cloud in 1955, trading a secondhand Vickers Viscount for it.[7] He renamed the ship Angelita after his daughter. The yacht served as a houseboat and government office. Following Trujillo's assassination on May 20, 1961, his family attempted to smuggle themselves and Trujillo's body to the Canary Islands aboard the Angelita, but were forced back by the Dominican Republic's new government.[3]


Five years after Trujillo's death, the ship, now named Patria, was sold to Operation Sea Cruises. Company president John Blue renamed her Antarna. He brought her to the United States, but port authorities docked the boat after a dispute. Charles and Stephanie Gallagher paid the fees to get the ship free and set her to sea, even though Blue still held the ship's papers. The two dreamed of making the ship an "oceanic school" where students would supplement their traditional learning with at-sea education. Blue eventually retrieved his ship after a confrontation in Panama.[3]

Cruise ship

After the ship stayed in port for eight years, Harmut Paschberg and a group of Hamburg associates purchased her, once again naming her Sea Cloud. Paschberg and thirty-eight other men sailed the ship to Europe, arriving in the Port of Hamburg on November 15, 1978. Sea Cloud spent eight months undergoing repairs in the now-named Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft shipyard, the very yard she was built in. She was redesigned with a sixty-four passenger capacity for a crew of sixty.[4] The ship set sail on its first cruise in 1979, and is still operating as a cruise ship.[3]



  1. Fagan, Kevin (29 August 2004). "Carlton Skinner – broke racial barriers in Navy". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 5 May 2009. 
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 "USS Sea Cloud, 1942: WPG-284; IX-99; ex-Hussar". United States Coast Guard. 20 August 2008. Retrieved 10 May 2009. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 "A Windjammer Writes History". Sea Cloud Cruises. 2007. Retrieved 11 May 2009. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Figueiral, J. Ortega. "Alcúdia recibe al ´Sea Cloud´, yate que perteneció a Trujillo" (in Spanish). Diario de Mallorca. Retrieved 11 May 2009. 
  5. Scull, Theodore (2006). 100 Best Cruise Vacations 4. Globe Pequot. p. 112–115. ISBN 0762738626. 
  6. Skinner, Carlton (13 November 2008). "USS Sea Cloud, IX 99, Racial Integration for Naval Efficiency". United States Coast Guard. Retrieved 10 May 2009. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 Buckley, William F., Jr. (2004). Miles Gone By: A Literary Autobiography. Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing. p. 482. ISBN 0895260891. 

External links

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Additional pictures


Visited Dartmouth, Devon, on 26 May 2011

<googlemap version="0.9" lat="50.351047" lon="-3.575363" zoom="15" controls="large"> 50.350554, -3.57502 Moored in Dartmouth, 26 May 2011 </googlemap>