- Pacific Northwest
Commissioned in 1936 by Francis Brownell, President of First National Bank of Seattle, Flying Cloud was designed by Edwin Monk, Sr. and launched by Grandy Boat Works in April of 1937. She was the first documented private yacht of her size built on the west coast with twin diesels, and was also the first west coast yacht to be built with Monel props and shafts. Conscripted by the Coast Guard 1941 USCG 1313, and later the Navy 1942 outbreak of World War II, Flying Cloud was outfitted with sonar and depth charges as she patrolled the Eastern Juan de Fuca straits watching for enemy submarines, Stationed at Anacortes, WA. Flotilla 13.
Flying Cloud was drafted into Coast Guard Seattle April 1940 as USCG-1313 of the 13th District. She was then transferred to the US Navy and manned by a 6 member crew and rigged with Sonar and 4 x 300 lb depth charges on her stern, and a 50 cal. standing gun on her bow, she patrolled the Eastern Straits, flotilla 13 being stationed in Anacortes.
I have spent many hours at the National Archive and the Coast Guard Museum, as well as the many Naval Historical Societies online. We have the transfer papers from Francis Brownell Jr. the original owner, to the Coast Guard. Including the subsequent transfer papers to the US Navy; we have been unable to locate her USN name and number as she was listed as the ex-Flying Cloud in the USN Documents that we have found. The Sonar was still on the boat and continued to operate until 1997.
Flying Cloud was taken out of service and sold in 1944, as the original owner was so disappointed in her condition, she was painted Naval Gray stem to stern. Brownell also was drafted to the US Executive Branch, and became the Cesar for the Silver Bullion policy during the WWII.
Flying Cloud continued her war effort as MV Researcher; she was sold to Lyle Branchflower and allotted an unlimited diesel fuel usage. She was then outfitted with a full rendering lab and began fishing the waters of the Pacific Coast from California to Alaska. Lyle was the single US Company that developed the fish liver oil business, which then provided the raw stock for creating Vitamins A and E for the troops. During her research years Flying Cloud motored as far South as San Francisco and North to Dutch Harbor Alaska, she went to Alaska every year until the late 1950's as a research vessel. In 1964 she was re-powered and converted back to a private yacht.
The National Archive at Falling Waters has all of the deck-logs for each private vessel used during the war, copies can be acquired. You need to provide the transfer documents and any vessel names and military numbers, they charge a research fee of $125.00 per hour with no guarantee of how much time it will take -- you have to give them a dollar amount not to exceed. I was also advised that they continue to catalog these documents and that in time the research will be available online. I have many links to various of the Historical Naval Research web sites, there are many pictures of some of these Private Yachts in their full Naval Gray war paint. We long for the day when we can get a picture of Flying Cloud fully dressed in Naval Gray proudly sporting her USN number.