The USS Potomac in Oakland

A Unique Bay Area Experience

To see the magnificent 165-foot USS Potomac berthed at Jack London Square in Oakland, you would never know that this beautiful ship has an incredibly checkered past. She began her life in 1934 as the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Electra. In 1936, she underwent a remarkable transformation and became the USS Potomac, the official presidential yacht of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. She served with distinction, transporting the President and heads of state from around the world until 1945, when she was sold and served as a private ferry in the Caribbean.

She was bought and sold several times in the ensuing years until 1964, when she caught the eye of Elvis Presley. After owning it for a few years, Presley eventually donated the vessel to a hospital in Memphis, which sold it at a fundraiser. Then the Potomac’s story took a surreal turn. After being bought and sold a few more times, she was eventually seized by the U.S. Customs Service in San Francisco in 1980 when officials learned she was a front for a drug smuggling operation. She was towed to Treasure Island, where she sank into San Francisco Bay. Two weeks after her ignominious sinking, she was refloated by the U.S. Navy and sold to the Port of Oakland for $15,000.00. She then underwent a complete restoration and opened in 1995.

Today, the “Floating White House” is a fully restored and functional seagoing vessel, staffed by retired Armed Forces personnel and other volunteers, who regale visitors with stories about her history and what life aboard was like when she served President Roosevelt and visiting dignitaries. Along with the dockside Visitor’s Center, the Potomac is full of interesting artifacts and exhibits and on certain days and nights, visitors can go on cruises on San Francisco Bay. The cruises visit several points of interest in the Bay and is one of the best ways to see the Bay Area from different vantage points. Hours of operation vary by the day and season, so if you’re interested in visiting the Potomac and/or taking a cruise on her, visit the official site at for tickets and more information.