Vida led quite the active life

John Blaich

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

ceremonial occasions.

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.

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