This photograph of the sailing ship Sea Cloud traveling on the St Johns River with the original Prudential building rising in the background had a note by photographer Loyd Sandgren attached to it identifying the date of the event as 1949. After a bit of research, the history of the ship warranted more information than what was found in Loyd’s original note.
The 316 foot long ship was built in Germany in 1931 for Marjorie Merriweather Post and her second husband Edward Francis Hutton. It was named the Hussar II. In 1935 it was renamed the Sea Cloud after Post married Joseph Davies, the United States Ambassador to the Soviet Union who then used the ship as an informal embassy. The ship was chartered to the United States Navy in 1942 for $1.00 a year and went into service as the Coast Guard Cutter Sea Cloud. It had its four masts removed, was painted gray and served as a weather observation vessel along the East Coast of the United States. In 1943 it was transferred to the Navy and saw service off the New England Coast, then Argentina and Newfoundland. In 1944 under a new commander, the sailors on the Sea Cloud became the first fully integrated ships crew in the Navy.
In late 1944 the USS Sea Cloud was returned to Marjorie Merriweather Post and restored to its prewar condition. In 1955 the now divorced Post sold the ship to Rafael Trujillo, the president of the Dominican Republic. The ship was renamed Angelita after Trujillo’s daughter. Trujillo was assassinated in 1961 and the ship was held in the Dominican Republic for around five years. It was sold again in 1966 and renamed Antarna but plans to turn it into a seagoing classroom never came to fruition. After staying in port for eight years the ship was sold again and redesigned as a passenger ship, taking her first cruise in 1979. The Sea Cloud has changed hands and been upgraded since the 1970′s but is is still in service today, operating in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean.
Tags: Dominican Republic, Edward Francis Hutton, historic photography, Joseph Davies, Marjorie Merriweather Post, navy, Prudential, Rafael Trujillo, sailing ship, Sea Cloud, St Johns, vintage photograph