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Patrol Yacht Photo Archive

Sylph (PY-5)

Call sign (1912):
Nan - Tare - Love

Call sign (1919):
George - Rush - King - Fox

Patrol Yacht:

  • The third Sylph was built in 1890 by John Roach and Co., Chester, PA
  • Acquired by the Navy in June 1898
  • Commissioned USS Sylph 18 August 1898 at the Norfolk Navy Yard for use as a Presidential Yacht
  • Designated a Patrol Yacht, PY-5, 17 July 1921
  • Decommissioned 27 April 1929 at the Norfolk Navy Yard
  • Struck from the Navy list 29 April 1929
  • Sold 26 November 1929 to Mr. Frank B. Clair of Brooklyn, NY (Mr. Clair was reportedly an ex-bootlegger). Mr. Clair and his partner Captain John Nugent converted her into a party fishing boat and
    operated her from Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, NY. The Sylph fished from Sheepshead Bay until April 1939, when she changed her business and ran a ferry service from Sea Gate, Brooklyn to the Battery in Manhattan. In 1941, her owners defaulted on the mortgage held by the Worthington Diesel Company and they took possession of the vessel
  • Fate unknown.


  • Displacement 152 t.
  • Length 123' 8"
  • Beam 20'
  • Draft 7' 6"
  • Speed 15 kts.
  • Complement 31
    1921 - 35
  • Armament: 1905 - One 6-pounder
    1914 - None
  • Propulsion: Two Almy boilers, one 550ihp vertical triple-expansion steam engine, one shaft
    1935 - Replaced by a 400hp Worthington diesel engine.

    Click on thumbnail
    for full size image
    Size Image Description Source
    USS Sylph
    Sylph 42k

    Sylph (also called sylphid) is a mythological air spirit. The term originates in the 16th-century works of Paracelsus, who describes sylphs as (invisible beings) of the air, his elementals
    of air

    Tommy Trampp
    Sylph 36k Gunter Krebs
    Sylph 45k Robert Hurst
    Sylph 169k c. 1901
    View of the eastern part of the Washington Navy Yard waterfront, looking north. The Experimental Model Basin (Building 70) is in the left center, with the new Building 101 beyond it. The small ship in the basin in right center is USS Sylph
    Naval History and Heritage Command photo NH 93334
    Sylph 144k c. late 1905
    At the Norfolk Navy Yard, Portsmouth, Virginia. SS Ajax (1898-1925) is in the left center, behind Sylph's bow, with the decommissioned cruiser San Francisco forward of her. At left is USS Atlanta (1886-1912), barracks ship for torpedo boats
    Courtesy of Ted Stone, 1986
    Naval History and Heritage Command photo NH 100918
    Sylph 225k August 30, 1905
    USS Plunger (Submarine Torpedo Boat No. 2) broadside with what looks like her entire crew on deck. Sylph is in the background
    Tommy Trampp
    Photos added 6 October 2020
    Sylph 315k August 30, 1905
    USS Plunger (Submarine Torpedo Boat No. 2), later A-1, passing the Sylph
    Photo from the George Gratham Bain Collection
    Sylph 224k August 30, 1905
    USS Plunger (Submarine Torpedo Boat No. 2), with crew on deck. USS Slyph
    Photo from the George Gratham Bain Collection
    Sylph 63k c. 1909
    Photo from Mike's Maritime Memorabilia at Mel's Place
    Tommy Trampp
    Sylph 86k Photo from a 1917 edition of National Geographic magazine, from an article on flag etiquette Dan Wilmes
    Sylph 152k c. 1917/1920
    Library of Congress photo LC-H234-A-2013
    Mike Green
    Sylph 177k Probably taken prior to 1921 as the Presidential Yacht
    Library of Congress photo ggbain 13391
    Bill Gonyo
    Fishing Boat Sylph
    Sylph 86k The converted yachts Glory and Sylph are captured in this photo while steaming back to Sheepshead Bay from an 'Atlantic City Special' fishing trip in 1933
    Photo courtesy of Captain John Bogan, Jr. from Mel's Place
    Robert Hurst
    Sylph 95k c. 1935 Mel's Place
    Ferry Boat Sylph
    Sylph 72k c. 1938 Mel's Place

    Commanding Officers
    01LT William John Maxwell, USN22 October 1894 - 1898
    02LT William Henry Buck, USN1 December 1898
    03LT William John Maxwell, USN16 September 1899
    04LT William Kelly Gise, USN30 January 1900
    05LT Charles Francis Preston, USN28 June 1902
    06LT Franck Taylor Evans, USN1905
    07LT Roscoe Carlyle Bulmer, USN2 June 1906 - 16 May 1908
    08LT Roger Williams, USN1908
    09CDR Charles Russell Train, USN - Retired as Rear Admiral27 December 1909 - 1911
    10LT Christopher Raymond Perry Rodgers, USN1911
    11LT Harrison Edward Knauss, USN1915
    12LT Joel William Bunkley, USN - USNA Class of 1909
    Retired as Rear Admiral
    1 June 1916
    13LTJG(T) Robert Martin, USN1918 - 1919
    14LT Haiden Trigg Dickinson, USN25 November 1919 - 1 June 1920
    15LCDR Guy Evans Baker, USN1 June 1920
    16LCDR Louis Peter Wenzell, USN - Retired as Rear Admiral19 February 1923 - 22 August 1925
    17LCDR Francis Eliot Maynard Whiting, USN - Retired as Vice Admiral22 August 1925 - 9 February 1927
    18LT Charles Butler McVay, III, USN - USNA Class of 1920
    Awarded the Silver Star, the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart - Retired as Rear Admiral
    9 February 1927 - April 1928
    Courtesy Wolfgang Hechler, Ron Reeves, Joe Radigan and Bill Gonyo

    View the Sylph (PY 5)
    DANFS History entry located on the Naval History and Heritage Command website
    Back To The Main Photo Index Back To the Patrol Craft/Gunboat/Submarine Chaser Ship Index Back to the Patrol Yacht (PY) Photo Index

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    This page created and maintained by Joseph M. Radigan
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