The motor yacht Vida, a large clipper-bowed diesel yacht,
considered Newport Harbor her home port from 1939 to 1942. Vida was
234-feet long, with a beam of 34 feet and a draft of 12 feet. She was powered by two Winton diesel engines, each had 422-brake horsepower.
With this power, she could cruise at 16 knots.
Originally named Cambrioas, she was designed by Cox and Stevens of
New York and built by Pussy and Jones of Wilmington, Del., in 1930.
When Erle P. Halliburton, a member of the Newport Harbor Yacht Club,
acquired the yacht, he changed her name to Vida, after his daughter.
Vida was registered in Honduras, where Halliburton had extensive oil
and cattle holdings.
Vida was usually moored at the old county dock near the Arches.
Many times she anchored in the Lido Turning Basin. The yacht's boats
were lowered, and a shore boat service was established at Newport
Harbor Yacht Club.
Vida was a very active yacht. Cruises were made to Alaska, Mexico
and Honduras, as were weekend trips to Catalina. She was fitted with
a gyrostabilizer system that, when turned on, provided a smooth ride
for the guests.
In early 1942, the U.S. Navy requisitioned Vida. Before turning
the yacht over to the Navy, Halliburton had the ship's saluting
cannon removed. This was donated to the Newport Harbor Yacht Club,
where it stands today, adjacent to the flagpole, and is used on
After an extensive conversion to a warship, Vida was commissioned
as the USS Crystal (PY-25) on Feb. 21, 1942. After a training and
shakedown period in the San Pedro area, Crystal, as she had been
re-christened, reported for duty with the Hawaiian Sea Frontier in
May of 1942.
From May 1942 to Nov. 8, 1945, Crystal led a very active naval
life. She was based at Midway Island, where she operated with
destroyers on anti-submarine patrol. Crystal was also sent to the
western Pacific as a weather station ship. On Nov. 17, 1945, she was
sent back to San Francisco.
The USS Crystal was decommissioned on March 6, 1946, and offered
to Halliburton, who decided against accepting his yacht because the
cost of putting her back into "yacht condition." Crystal was acquired
by other people who used her as a freighter and passenger vessel in
Central and South America.
* JOHN BLAICH is a Corona del Mar resident and volunteer at the
Newport Harbor Nautical Museum. About once a month, he writes
histories of interesting boats that graced Newport Harbor.