USS Mizpah (PY-29)

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USS Mizpah (PY-29) trial run.jpg
USS Mizpah on its trial run.
United States
Name: Mizpah
Builder: Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company
Laid down: 1926
Commissioned: 26 October 1942
Decommissioned: 16 January 1946
Fate: scuttled, 9 April 1968
Notes: Call sign: Nan/Baker/Roger/Tare
General characteristics
Class and type: Patrol Yacht
Displacement: 607 tons
Length: 181 feet
Beam: 27 feet
Draft: 10 feet, 7 inches
Propulsion: two 850 horsepower Winton diesel engines, two shafts
Speed: 13.9 knots

The USS Mizpah (PY-29) was a United States Navy vessel.


This 185-foot (56 m) ship was laid down in 1926 from the parts of an abandoned new destroyer as the pleasure yacht Savanarola by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company of Newport News, Virginia, for Mrs. Richard M. Cadwalader of Fort Washington, Pennsylvania. It was acquired in 1927 by Mrs. Cadwalader's son, Mr. Richard M. Cadwalader, Jr., also of Fort Washington, and renamed the Sequoia. In 1929 it was sold to Eugene F. McDonald of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, founder and president of the Zenith Radio Corporation,[1] who renamed it the Allegro and used it both as a Chicago residence and a floating laboratory on which to test the electronics company's new products. One of the largest yachts on the Great Lakes in its heyday, the ship was renamed the Mizpah in 1929.

Only a year after commissioning the construction of the Mizpah, the Cadwaladers built a smaller ship, the USS Sequoia II, a 104-foot pleasure yacht that was subsequently purchased by the U.S. government and named the USS Sequoia for use by U.S. presidents. Numerous significant historical events took place on the Sequoia between the presidential administrations of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan.

Acquisition and conversion by the U.S. Navy[edit]

The Mizpah was acquired by the United States Navy on 16 March 1942 and converted to a warship at Sturgeon Bay Shipbuilding Company, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, with Lt. Stephen M. Etnier, USNR, in command. It was commissioned the Patrol Yacht USS Mizpah (PY-29) on 26 October 1942. After leaving Sturgeon Bay on 16 November 1942, Mizpah served as a convoy escort along the eastern coast of the United States, sailing between New York City and Key West, Florida, until July 1944. In this way, Mizpah made a contribution to the war effort by freeing larger, more heavily armed escorts to protect transatlantic shipping lanes.

Serves as training school[edit]

From August 1944 until April 1945, Mizpah served as a navigation school ship from the Amphibious Training Base at Little Creek, Virginia, training prospective ship captains and executive officers to sail newly constructed, amphibious vessels in the Chesapeake Bay region.

Conversion to flagship, Destroyer Force, Atlantic Fleet[edit]

The USS Mizpah in drydock, undergoing conversion

Converted at Boston, Massachusetts, for duty as a flagship, Destroyer Force, Atlantic Fleet, Mizpah broke the flag of Rear Admiral O. M. Hustvedt at Portland, Maine, on 28 May 1945. Hustvedt was succeeded by Rear Admiral Frank E. Beatty, Jr., on 4 September 1945.


Mizpah arrived in Charleston, South Carolina, with Admiral Beatty on 10 December 1945 under the command of Lt. (j.g.) D. Dudley Bloom. It was decommissioned on 16 January 1946 and transferred to the United States War Shipping Administration (WSA) on 25 September 1946 for disposal.

Final years[edit]

The WSA then sold her to a private corporation for transporting bananas out of South America. In 1967, the ship suffered a broken crankshaft and was laid up for repair at Tampa, Florida. At that time, Eugene Kinney,[2] McDonald's nephew and Zenith Corporation vice president who had grown up on the Mizpah and served as a naval officer in the South Pacific during World War II, learned of her plight and purchased her. Finding Mizpah's crankshaft irreparably damaged, however, Kinney scuttled her off the coast of Palm Beach, Florida, on 9 April 1968,[3] along with another ship, the USS PC-1174, to serve as an artificial reef to prevent beach erosion.

Sitting in ninety-five feet of water with her hatches purposely removed to enhance her accessibility, Mizpah is now one of the chief attractions of an offshore scuba diver's area known as "The Mizpah Corridor".[4]


  1. ^ Rethford, Wayne. "The Zenith Radio Corporation, Founded by Eugene F. McDonald." Scots, Great and Small, Internet website, [1] Retrieved 11 January 2013.
  2. ^ "Eugene McDonald Kinney." Chicago: The Chicago Tribune, 17 October 2000. [2] Retrieved 11 January 2013.
  3. ^ Smyth, Pete. "When the Great Ship Went Down," Motor Boating, August 1968, page 65.
  4. ^ The Lucky Scuba, website, [3] Retrieved 11 January 2013.

See also[edit]