1930: The Launch of a Schooner that Has Performed Wide-Ranging Duties over the Decades

June 9, 1930

A three-masted staysail auxiliary schooner that had been built for Robert C. Roebling was launched in Bath, Maine. A Georgia resident, Roebling came from a family with a notable background in transportation. He was a great-grandson of John A. Roebling, the renowned civil engineer best known for designing the Brooklyn Bridge; and a grandnephew of Washington Roebling, who supervised the construction of that bridge.

When deciding on a name for the schooner that was built for him, Robert C. Roebling first planned to call her Grenadier. Ultimately, however, he decided on the Black Douglas instead as the name for his new vessel. “Black Douglas” had been a nickname for James Douglas, a black-haired Scottish knight and feudal lord who was one of the military commanders during the Wars of Scottish Independence in the 14th century. A helmeted wooden figurehead of Douglas was fitted onto the bow of the ship named after him.

This vessel, which was designed by the New York City-based firm H.J. Gielow & Company and constructed by Bath Iron Works, is one of the largest steel-hulled schooners ever built. Originally a private yacht for the Roebling family, the schooner has served in various other capacities throughout her eventful existence to date. She was a patrol vessel for the U.S. Navy during World War II, for example, and a research vessel for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the region of the Pacific Ocean between Alaska and California.

In 1966, the ship was bought at auction by a California resident named Louis Black and used by him for treasure-hunting purposes in the Caribbean Sea. The ship was sold to George Stoll of Florida in 1972. He renamed the vessel teQuest and converted her into a floating classroom for intellectually gifted students enrolled in a school that he and his wife Betty operated. After that school closed in the early 1980s, the vessel originally known as the Black Douglas was sold to a group of investors and renamed Aquarius. This ship is now owned by King Mohammed VI of Morocco and called El Boughaz I.

Photo Credit: Wasa1979 (licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en)

For more information on the Black Douglas (now known as El Boughaz I), please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schooner_Black_Douglas and http://www.navsource.org/archives/12/1445.htm

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