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A day on the bay aboard FDR’s presidential yacht, USS Potomac with grandson Ford Roosevelt

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Tom Wilmer
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FDR's Presidential Yacht USS Potomac berthed in Oakland, California

Correspondent Tom Wilmer visits with Ford Roosevelt, FDR’s grandson aboard the presidential yacht USS Potomac in Jack London Square, Oakland Harbor where Ford serves as Executive Director of the non-profit, Potomac Association.

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Tom Wilmer
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USS Potomac walkway

The USS Potomac served as the President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “Floating White House” from 1936 until his death in 1945.

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Naval History and Heritage Command
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The USS Potomac with President Roosevelt and the King and Queen of Great Britain onboard as the ship travels from Washington D.C., to Mount Vernon and back on June 9, 1939.

How the USS Potomac came to reside in Oakland, California is a fascinating journey.

Following the death of FDR, the vessel spent a ten year stint as a Coast Guard patrol boat, followed by service as a Caribbean ferry, Elvis Presley's private yacht, and a stint as a drug smuggler that ultimately led to its sinking while tied up on Treasure Island.

The Oakland Port Authority purchased the derelict USS Potomac and spent more than fourteen years, and six million dollars painstakingly restoring Roosevelt’s Presidential Yacht.

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Tom Wilmer
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USS Potomac, FDR's Presidential yacht cruising under the San Francisco Bay Bridge.

Today the vessel is a registered National Historic Landmark, permanently berthed at Oakland’s Jack London Square. Maintained by the Potomac Foundation, the historic vessel offers regularly scheduled, and charter San Francisco Bay cruises.

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Lucia Kanter St. Amour
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Correspondent Tom Wilmer (left) with FDR's grandson, Ford Roosevelt, in front of FDR's Presidential yacht USS Potomac berthed on the Jack London Square waterfront in Oakland, California.

Funding for Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer is provided by the Foundation at Hearst Castle

Conserving the past to inspire future generations of dreamers and preserving the legacy of Julia Morgan.

Experience authentically curated historical events that recreate what it was like to be a guest of William Randolph Hearst—from swimming in the iconic Neptune pool to Dining in Hearst’s private guest house overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Click here to learn more about becoming a supporting member of the Foundation at Hearst Castle.

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You are invited to subscribe to the six time Lowell Thomas Award-winning travel podcast, Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer, featured on the NPR Podcast DirectoryApple Podcast, the NPR One App & Stitcher.com and more than twenty other podcast hosting sites including iHeartRadio

Tom Wilmer produces on-air content for Issues & Ideas airing over KCBX and is producer and host of the six-time Lowell Thomas award-winning NPR podcast Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer. Recorded live on-location across America and around the world, the podcasts feature the arts, culture, music, nature, history, science, wine & spirits, brewpubs, and the culinary arts--everything from baseball to exploring South Pacific atolls to interviewing the real Santa Claus in the Arctic.
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