1945: A Yacht Completes Her Wartime Service in the U.S. Navy

July 18, 1945

About a month-and-a-half before World War II ended altogether with the surrender of Japan to the Allies, the U.S. Navy patrol yacht USS Tourmaline (PY-20) was decommissioned. This vessel had been used for various patrol assignments throughout the war.

Tourmaline had actually started out as a private yacht named Sylvia. She was built by the Maine-based Bath Iron Works in 1930.

On May 16, 1941, the Navy purchased this yacht from Logan G. Thompson. She was subsequently taken to the Marine Basin Company in Brooklyn, New York, for renovations. On September 19, 1941, this converted yacht was commissioned at the New York Navy Yard. At that time, she was renamed USS Tourmaline after a gemstone and placed under the command of Lieutenant Commander Charles E. Judge of the U.S. Navy Reserve.

About two weeks after being commissioned, Tourmaline began operating as a patrol vessel in the vicinity of the naval base in Norfolk in southeastern Virginia. After the United States’ entry into World War II a couple of months later, Tourmaline was used for war patrols both in that region and off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina.

Starting in the early part of 1942, Tourmaline’s patrol duties were expanded to include the entire portion of the Eastern Seaboard between Norfolk and Key West, Florida. During the summer of that year, Tourmaline also served as an escort for a convoy of ships traveling to what was then known as the British West Indies (now widely called the Commonwealth Caribbean). Tourmaline was also used in 1942 for a couple of expeditions to Cuba.

Tourmaline was eventually deployed on a regular basis as an escort for convoys traveling between New York and the Caribbean. This months-long assignment lasted until January 1945, when she was reassigned to help patrol the waters off the coast of Massachusetts. This would be Tourmaline’s mission until June 1945, the month after the Battle of the Atlantic officially came to an end with Germany’s surrender to the Allies.  

Nearly a month after she was decommissioned, Tourmaline was struck from the Naval Vessel Register. In January of the following year, this vessel was purchased by Andrew M. Embiricos and Manuel E. Kulukundis of the Greek War Relief Association. She was renamed Adelphic by her new owners. In 1948, the vessel was sold to the Greek firm Hellinic Maritime Enterprise Company and renamed Kyknos. This one-time patrol yacht remained in operation until sometime during the 1970s. She was scrapped in 1979.

Photo Credit: U.S. National Archives

For more information on USS Tourmaline (PY-20), please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Tourmaline

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