Yachting's Dozen: <i>Alva</i>

Alva may have been the original, over-the-top superyacht but she nonetheless was put into service during WWII and became the USS Plymouth. One of Yachting's Dozen from our October 2011 issue.

Alva

Type: 264-foot motoryacht
Builder: Cox & Stevens
Year: 1931
Original owner: W.K. Vanderbilt II

Why this yacht matters: Alva was a favored name for yachts in the Vanderbilt family. The first Alva was a 285-foot three-masted steamer named for William K. Vanderbilt's wife. The second, commissioned and named after his mother by William K. Vanderbilt II, and built by the Kiel yard in Germany, was designed by Cox & Stevens. This Alva was outfitted with a complete gymnasium and a $60,000 seaplane. Her stateroom overheads were nine feet high, and the main living room's overhead was 15 feet high. Alva may have been the original, over-the-top superyacht but she nonetheless was put into service during WWII and became the USS Plymouth. She was torpedoed by a German U-boat in 1943 off Cape Henry, Virginia, and sank.

From the pages of Yachting: An unusual vessel in many ways, Alva_ is 264 feet long. A pair of eight-cylinder diesels drive her at a 16-knot pace. The rooms in her quarters are large, well-proportioned and tastefully decorated. She left New York recently on a 30,000-mile world cruise_. — the Editors, August 1931