A Fine Little Vessel
Industrialist John N. Willys' yacht Isabel was on the ways at Bath (Maine) Iron Works when she attracted the Navy's attention as America entered World War I. Captain Ashley H. Robertson of the Boston Navy Yard deemed her "exceedingly desirable for patrol duty," adding that the vessel had "many of the characteristics of a torpedo destroyer."
Willys had offered his yacht to the government some time before but did not receive a response. When the Navy approached him in April 1917, it offered "a price based on the original cost and present condition," citing "National danger and the emergency which now exists for patrol boats." Willys responded that the price "would be all right if my boat had ever been used," but he protested that the Isabel was "a new boat, built so that it would be adaptable for the service of the government." Willys, however, was "willing to do what is fair" and parted with the ship for $611,553. The Navy assigned her the identification number SP-521 and earmarked her to serve as a destroyer.