How to Update a Presidential Yacht

Green Yachts has an idea for saving the USS Williamsburg from the scrap heap.

January 10, 2014

USS Williamsburg restoration concept

This is how the USS Williamsburg could be transformed into a yacht, based on a design by Green Yachts in Italy. Courtesy Green Yachts

It’s hard to see it now, as she sits rotting so far from home in La Spezia, Italy, but the_ USS Williamsburg_ has one heck of a history.

She was originally known as a private yacht called Aras, constructed at Bath Iron Works in Maine and launched in 1930 — 243 feet of solid steel hull displacing more than 1,800 tons fully loaded.

The U.S. Navy acquired her in 1941 and transformed her into a gunboat used in and around Iceland throughout World War II. By 1945, she was back on the U.S. East Coast and had been converted into a presidential yacht, a designation she kept during the administrations of Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower. By the 1960s, she was rechristened the Anton Bruun and was serving as a research vessel for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, taking scientists from around the world on expeditions in the Indian Ocean. She eventually found her way to New Jersey, where investors tried to turn her into a hotel and restaurant, but that enterprise failed. In 1993, a new group of owners moved her to Italy to convert her into a luxury cruise ship. That effort failed, too, and the USS Williamsburg Preservation Society is now trying to raise funds to bring her home to America and restore her as she approaches her 85th birthday.


Green Yachts in Italy wants to help with that effort. The designers created a plan to remodel her, using her slender hull as the basis for a modern hybrid propulsion system. They envision a sundeck with room for a helicopter, larger windows for better visibility and natural light, and a contemporary fireplace in the main-deck salon. Their exterior vision is shown in the rendering above.

And why not change her into something new? Maybe the seventh time will be the charm for this historic vessel.

Learn more about the refit concept at


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