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What can you tell me about the large white yacht across from the convention center?

Ken Little

The vessel in question has a very interesting history, property owner David Roderick said.

The “yacht” began life as a U.S. Navy patrol hydrofoil missile ship, built by Boeing and launched in 1982 as U.S.S. Gemini. The ship was capable of 48 knots (55 mph) foilborne. The 133-foot PHM carried eight Harpoon anti-ship missiles and a 75 mm rapid-fire gun, along with other sophisticated weaponry.

The Gemini and sister ships were decommissioned by the Navy in 1993. Until about 10 years ago, there were four PHM military surplus vessels docked in Wilmington, but three were scrapped, Roderick said. A man from Chicago acquired the ship in question, remodeled the topside area and installed diesel engines. The work was completed about five years ago on Roderick’s riverfront property and the owner sailed for Florida and the Bahamas. He also called the vessel the “Gemini,” Roderick said.

The vessel was sold to new owners from Florida and brought back to the Cape Fear River site about two years ago. It was hauled out of the water to dry land and the engines were removed. Other work was done on the hull and topside areas of the ship, Roderick said.

The new owners were going to retrofit the vessel with a more energy-efficient diesel-electric propulsion system, but suspended work about a year ago and went back to Florida, Roderick said. They are still paying rent on the land where the vessel is stored.

“They said they’re going to come back to it,” Roderick said.

Related links:

What is the history of Liberty ships being built in Wilmington during World War II?

What was the “Mothball Fleet”?

What is the USS Gravely?

Why do they have a battleship parked across from downtown?

User-contributed question by:
Bill Case

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6 Responses to “ What can you tell me about the large white yacht across from the convention center?”

  1. On January 9, 2011 at 3:19 pm Brian wrote:

    Thanks for the history of the yacht. Helps to understand why it is just sitting there dry docked. I had family members come into visit Wilmington over the holidays and I couldn’t answer their questions about the oddity of it sitting there. They all commented, and I agreed, it is a eye-sore for the downtown Wilmington ambience.

  2. On January 17, 2011 at 3:34 pm Capt.Maffit wrote:

    If you noticed, the river is a working water front with many ships along the banks, in the water and out. Ambience? LOL

  3. On January 17, 2011 at 11:03 pm Wayne wrote:

    I guess “ambiance” is in the eyes of the beholder. I think the river front has a nice ambiance . . . even the Gemini doesn’t bother me.

  4. On January 18, 2011 at 9:08 am Curtis wrote:

    Wow! If our very own Capt. J.N. Maffitt, Wilmington’s riverfront taxi service, likes the way the downtown riverfront looks, it must be okay.

  5. On January 18, 2011 at 8:21 pm Paul wrote:

    I really am surprised this abandoned yacht hasn’t been vandalized, tagged by graffiti or worse… squatted as a riverfront condo with a view. If I were the one that leased the land, could I park some old broke down cars there and let my goats run loose to maintain my “island getaway”?

    Seriously, though. It does look bad and out of place.

    Mr. Saffo, let’s move that yacht!

  6. On January 20, 2011 at 12:59 pm Downtown Citizen wrote:

    Great story. We knew the part about it being a ex-Naval vessel and that the hydrofoils had been removed, but did not know anything else about it. We would love to see the work to her finished and back in the water as she is a beautiful vessel…. but a ” eyesore” … LOL… Not at all. As it has been said this is and always has been and always will be a working water front. So I guess those who don’t understand that would also like to see all the cranes, barges, dredges, and boat yards that line Our Beautiful River taken away as well?….

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