The Lydonia II

The Lydonia II was the second yacht built by the Pusey and Jones Company for William A. Lydon. Completed just two years after the Lydonia I, the 497-ton Lydonia II (181' x 26' x 11.5') dwarfed its predecessor by more than 250 tons. The Pusey and Jones Company began construction of the William A. Gardner design in the beginning of April, and the christened hull slid down the ways four months later on July 25, 1911.

William Lydon
William Lydon, center

Construction and fitting out continued along the Pusey and Jones wharf on the Christina River for the next nine months. The last image of this exhibit depicts the Lydonia II's sea trial on May 1, 1912, fourteen months after William Lydon signed contract #1205 with the Pusey and Jones Company.

The New York Times considered Lydon "one of the best-known sportsmen in the United States" and the Lydonia II "the finest [yacht] on the Great Lakes." Lydon, co-founder and president of the Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company, was active in the Chicago business and yachting communities.

He used the Lydonia II as a pleasure yacht until the U.S. Navy acquired it for wartime service on August 21, 1917. In reporting the sale, the New York Times wrote this of the Lydonia II:

"Lydonia, queen of the Great Lakes fleet, which has been the property of Commodore W. A. Lydon of the Chicago Yacht Club, has been sold to the Government for use as a naval auxiliary...She was designed by William Gardner of this city and built at Wilmington, Del., and was one of the most luxuriously furnished yachts on Lake Michigan. She is stable enough to carry a rather heavy armament, and has a speed of some 14 knots."

The U.S.S. Lydonia (SP-700), manned by a complement of 34, mounted four 3" guns and two machine guns. After arriving in Gibraltar in December 1917, the U.S.S. Lydonia patrolled and escorted convoys in the eastern Atlantic and western Mediterranean. The U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey acquired the vessel after the Armistice to bolster its survey fleet.

The Lydonia's 28-year career included the survey of Georges Bank in the 1930s, which resulted in the Lydonia Canyon being named for the vessel. The U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey decommissioned the Lydonia in 1947. The 35-year old vessel was likely scrapped, although no definite account of the Lydonia's end is known.

Image: William A. Lydon standing between two unidentified men, probably near a boathouse on the shore of Lake Michigan in Chicago, circa 1912. (LDN-0059107, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago Historical Society)