USS Phenakite

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Yacht Celt, USS Sachem, USS Phenakite.jpg
USS Phenakite prior to World War I
United States
Name: Celt
Owner: J. Rogers Maxwell
Launched: 12 April 1902
Fate: transferred to USN 3 July 1917
United States
Name: USS Sachem
Acquired: 3 July 1917
Identification: SP 192
Fate: transferred back to owner 10 February 1919
United States
Owner: Manton B. Metcalf
Acquired: 10 February 1919
Fate: sold to Jacob "Jake" Martin and converted to a fishing boat 1932
United States
Owner: Jacob "Jake" Martin
Acquired: 1932
Fate: reacquired by the Navy 17 February 1942 for $65,000 and converted for Naval service at Robert Jacobs Inc., City Island, NY
United States
Name: USS Phenakite
Builder: Robert Jacobs Inc., City Island, New York
Cost: $65,000
Acquired: 17 February 1942
Commissioned: 1 July 1942 at Tompkinsville, New York
Decommissioned: 17 November 1944
Identification: PYc-25
Fate: transferred to the Maritime Commission for disposal 5 November 1945
United States
Name: USS Phenakite
Owner: Maritime Commission
Acquired: 5 November 1945
Identification: PYc-25
Fate: returned to her original owner, Mr. J. Martin of Brooklyn, NY and renamed Sachem on 29 December 1945
United States
Name: Sachem
Owner: J. Martin
Acquired: 29 December 1945
Fate: subsequently resold to the Circle Line of New York City and renamed Sightseer
United States
Name: Sightseer
Owner: Circle Line of New York City
  • Renamed Circle Line V
  • Reportedly scrapped in 1984
  • Found abandoned outside of Lawrenceburg, Indiana on the Kentucky side of the Ohio River
  • Presently under the custody of the D'Andrea LaRosa Art Foundation.
General characteristics [1][2]
  • 317 long tons (322 t)
  • 360 long tons (370 t) (1942)
  • 186 ft 3 in (56.77 m)
  • 183 ft (56 m) (1942)
Beam: 22 ft 6 in (6.86 m)
  • 8 ft (2.4 m)
  • 9 ft 7 in (2.92 m) (1942)
Installed power:
  • 1,200 shp (890 kW)
  • 805 shp (600 kW) (1936)
  • vericle triple-expansion steam engine, one shaft
  • 7-cylinder Fairbanks-Morse 37D 14 diesel engine (1936)
  • 15 kn (17 mph; 28 km/h)
  • 13.5 kn (15.5 mph; 25.0 km/h) (1942)

USS Phenakite was a converted yacht that was used by the United States Navy during World War I and World War II. The vessel was also known as Celt, Sachem (SP-192), Sightseer and Circle Line V.


Phenakite was built 1902 as the yacht Celt by Pusey and Jones, Wilmington, Delaware, for J. Rogers Maxwell, a railroad executive.[2] It was launched on April 12, 1902.

Shortly after the United States entry into the First World War, it was acquired by the US Navy on July 3, 1917.[2] The ship was placed in service as USS Sachem (SP 192) on August 19, 1917 and used as a Coastal Patrol Yacht. During its Navy service, it was loaned to inventor Thomas Edison who conducted government funded experiments with it.

After the end of World War I, Sachem was returned to her owner, Manton B. Metcalf of New York, on February 10, 1919.[2] It was later sold to Philadelphia banker Roland L. Taylor and then to Jacob "Jake" Martin of Brooklyn, New York in 1932 who converted it to a fishing boat.

The yacht was reacquired by the Navy on February 17, 1942 for $65,000 and converted for naval service at Robert Jacobs Inc., City Island, New York.[2] It was commissioned as USS Phenakite (PYc-25), July 1, 1942 at Tompkinsville, New York and patrolled the waters off of the Florida Keys during World War II. It was decommissioned to undergo modifications and placed back in service on November 17, 1944. It was used for testing sonar systems before being placed out of service on October 2, 1945 at Tompkinsville, and transferred to the Maritime Commission for disposal on November 5, 1945.

The vessel was then returned to her previous owner, Martin, and renamed Sachem on December 29, 1945.[2] It was struck from the Naval Register February 7, 1946. It was subsequently resold to the Circle Line of New York City and renamed Sightseer, but was later renamed Circle Line V. It served as a tour boat until 1983.

In 1986, a Cincinnati local named Robert Miller purchased the ship for the low price of $7,500 and spent 10 days restoring the yacht so it could make the journey to the Midwest. After using the boat to take friends out on New York Harbor for the ceremonial relighting of the Statue of Liberty during the July 4 weekend, Miller took the boat back home.

Pop culture[edit]

Before leaving New York Harbor, the boat was used in Madonna's 'Papa Don't Preach' music video in 1986.[3] While the boat was being worked on one day, a limousine pulled up to the dock and a representative for Madonna asked if they could use the ship in an upcoming music video. Miller agreed and the boat can briefly be seen in the video.

Present location[edit]

The ship traveled up the Hudson, through the Great Lakes, down the Mississippi River and into the Ohio River, before settling in a creek on Miller's property in Northern Kentucky.

A man who claims to be Miller commented on the Queen City Discovery blog, saying he bought the boat with the intention of restoring it for a museum.[3]

Circle Line V was reportedly scrapped in 1984, but was found abandoned just off Lawrenceburg ferry road, in Petersburg, Boone County, Kentucky on the south side of the Ohio River, where it has reportedly been since 1987.[2] It is a popular destination for kayak enthusiasts in the Cincinnati area and is commonly referred to as "The Ghost Ship".[4][5][6]


For her service in the U.S. Navy, Sachem / Phenakite earned the following awards:


  1. ^ Lenton 1974, pp. 3–4
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Priolo, Gary P. "Phenakite (PYc-25), ex-Sachem (SP 192)". NavSource Naval History. Retrieved February 22, 2015.
  3. ^ a b "The glorious past of 112-year-old 'ghost ship' abandoned on Ohio River". Retrieved 2016-08-03.
  4. ^ Ohio Kayak. "Ohio Kayak Blog-- Rivers, Music, Friends and More..." Retrieved 9 September 2015.
  5. ^ Henry E. Dorfman. "Ship lends ghostly history to Paddlefest". WCPO. Retrieved 9 September 2015.
  6. ^ Life Ghost ship

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 39°04′52.40″N 84°50′55.16″W / 39.0812222°N 84.8486556°W / 39.0812222; -84.8486556