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German yacht Ostwind, later USS Eastwind (IX 234).

German yacht Ostwind, later USS Eastwind (IX 234).
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Class: EASTWIND (IX 234)
Design: German yawl by Heinrich Gruber
Displacement (tons): 57t full
Dimensions (feet): 86’oa, 59’wl x 17’e, 16’wl x 12’
Armament: none
Accommodations: 4 officers and 12 enlisted
Speed (kts.): unk.
Propulsion (HP): 3,080 sq.ft. sail
Machinery: yawl rig

234EASTWIND1 Jun 1947Ernst Burmester, Bremenc19384 Sep 1939Apr 1946

IXNameTDecommStrikeDisposalFateMA Sale
234EASTWINDDECOM27 Oct 19498 Feb 1950Sold--

Class Notes:
In 1938, two ocean racing yawls, OSTWIND and NORDWIND, were built for the German Navy as replacements for ASTA and ORION, which the Navy had maintained as part of their officers training programs at their stations in the North Sea (Wilhelmshaven) and in the Baltic (Naval Academy Flensburg Mürwik). The new yawls were built because the German sailing team had performed poorly in the previous Olympics. They were designed by Heinrich Gruber, a well-known naval architect of the day, and had teak decking and mahogany planking on steel frames. NORDWIND was the first to be finished and participated in the 1939 Fastnet race in which she set a new record that held until 1963. OSTWIND replaced ASTA, which had been in German naval service from 1908 at the Baltic Fleet headquarters at Wilhelmshaven until struck 1 Jun 1937. OSTWIND was allocated to the US in 1945, taken over by the Navy in April 1946, renamed EASTWIND, and shipped to the Naval Academy. NORDWIND went to the British, retained her name, and was most recently refitted in 2003.

The Naval Academy decided that EASTWIND's great draft -- she liked nearly three fathoms under her -- rendered her unsuitable for the Chesapeake. After service at Annapolis and at the Naval Torpedo Station at Newport, RI, she was surveyed in 1949, determined to be in excess of Navy needs, stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 27 October 1949, and offered for sale.

EASTWIND was towed to Norfolk and sold to a man who thought he would make a charter yacht out of her, but he abandoned the idea and the yacht was sold in 1950 at the Brooklyn Navy Yard to Commander John Lyman, who was assigned to the Naval Intelligence office in Baltimore. He sailed her to Annapolis, moved aboard with his wife, and cruised in Cheasapeake Bay. Lyman took her to Florida in 1955 to sail in a race from Havana to Spain, and finally sold her in 1966. During the 1950s she had acquired notoriety as "Hitler's yacht," which she probably did not fully deserve. The yacht soon became a derelict at Jacksonville, Fla., and was repeatedly vandalized. In 1989 a group of Holocaust survivors bought what was left of the yacht and scuttled her off Miami Beach on 4 June 1989 to mark the 50th anniversary of the ill-fated voyage of the liner ST LOUIS, which had been denied entry into Cuba and the U.S. in 1939 and sent back to Germany with 900 Jewish refugees on board. Her location is now marked on charts as the Ostwind Reef.

Ship Notes:
234EASTWIND(ex-OSTWIND.) German naval yacht allocated to the USN by the Allied Control Council in 1945-46. Sold for private use 1950.

Page Notes:
Compiled: 19 Oct 2021
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2021