This Ghost Ship Deep in the Kentucky Woods Has a History with World War I, Thomas Edison and Madonna – Page 2 – News
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sachem-edisonAfter a few years in Maxwell’s stable of boats, Maxwell died. His widow sold the boat to Manton B. Metcalf of New York. Metcalf made his fortune in the textile industry. His summer mansion in Rumson was built during the roaring twenties. The New York Times compared it to the home of the fictional Jay Gatsby.

The USS Sachem

When America was on the brink of war, the United States Navy acquired the Celt on July 3, 1917. The yacht was converted to a coastal patrol boat. Christened the USS Sachem, for service in World War I.

The Germans had developed the U-boat, which were submarines that patrolled the Atlantic in search of British supply vessels. In addition to sinking British ships, the Germans were out to destroy any ship that was supplying the British. In addition, the Germans knew that the U.S. was likely preparing to enter the War, so they turned their attention to the American coastline.


In response, the U.S. Navy put together a fleet of fast ships capable of outmaneuvering the U-boats. The USS Sachem was one of these vessels, and it was deployed to protect the American coastline. The Sachem was retrofitted with depth charges that gave it the ability to sink U-boats, and machine guns were added to counteract German torpedoes. The masts were removed and the ornate brass portholes were sealed with steel. The sides were also raised.

The Navy knew it had to develop more sophisticated vessels in order to keep pace with the Germans. They turned to inventor Thomas Edison, and loaned him the USS Sachem for experiments. Edison conducted experiments on the ship between August and September of 1917, with many of the experiments designed to camouflage ships and hide torpedo detection. During this time, the Sachem was decked out with instruments allowing it to search for submarines with sound, magnetic fields, and sight.