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Franklin Merritt Morse Singer (1870 - 1939) was a son of the much more interesting Isaac Merritt Singer. Isaac Singer was an American inventor, actor and entrepreneur (according to Wikipedia) who, at the age of 11, ran away from home to join a travelling stage act. He made important improvements to the design of the sewing machine and founded the Singer Sewing Machine Company. He fathered at least 24 children by various wives and mistresses, and fled to England  in 1862 to avoid a charge of bigamy.

Franklin, or Franklyn, Singer owned a racing yacht named Xarifa. She was sold to Count D’Esprémesnil, crewed by Rowhedge men, and renamed Chanticleer. Singer then had his luxury steam yacht, also named Xarifa, built and Colne men were among her crew.


Owner's flag




Official Number: 67597

Rig: Yawl

Material: Wood

Sailmaker: Lapthorn & Ratsey

Tons: 72 net, 76 gross, 122 Thames Measurement

Length: 84.4 BP, 81.61 Water length

Breadth: 18.7

Depth: 11.1

Builder: J.S. White of Cowes

Built: 1874 Owner: Franklyn M. Singer

ESSEX COUNTY STANDARD - Saturday 28 April 1894 - “ROWHEDGE - YACHTING NEWS - At Mr. J.A. Houston’s yard, at Rowhedge.... Xarifa, belonging to Count D’Esprémesnil, has been having sundry alterations to her steering gear at Mr. Houston’s yard; the decks have been caulked, and she is now fitting out and will shortly leave the Colne.”


ESSEX COUNTY STANDARD - Saturday 10 November 1894 - “ROWHEDGE.- YACHTING. Count D’Esprémesnil, of Paris, has bought the magnificent, 514 tons, auxiliary steam yacht Xarifa from Mr. Franklyn M. Singer, of Paris. The yacht will shortly be brought from Cowes to Rowhedge, where she will go on the mud for the winter.”


Evidently the Standard got the wrong Xarifa  here.

XARIFA.... the steam yacht




Yachting World - 22 March 1894 - Composite auxiliary steam yacht Xarifa (John Samuel White’s yard) ready for launching - middle of next month.


Yachting World - 26 Apr 1894 - “Xarifa launched last week”... owned by Mr. Franklyn M. Singer, 560 tons, auxiliary brigantine-rigged yacht, “one of the largest and finest steam yachts of modern times.” at Cowes Saturday morning. Probably be commissioned in early June.


Saturday 28 April 1894 - “LAUNCH OF THE XARIFA.- A splendid new yacht for Mr. Singer was launched from Mr. John Samuel White’s yard at East Cowes soon after eleven o’clock on Saturday morning. The event created much public interest, and the yard and adjacent quays and wharves were full of spectators. Mrs. Singer gracefully christened the vessel Xarifa, and the launch was a great success. The yacht, which is to be superbly furnished, is a handsome model and is the largest yet built at Cowes. She is 193 feet long (over all), 26ft. 6in. wide, 17ft. deep, and her tonnage being 552. She is composite built, and will have auxiliary steam power. To celebrate the launch Mr. Singer gave every man in the yard 5s., which they chose in preference to having a launch supper.”


19 May 1894 - “COWES.- Lallow is constructing a set of boats for Mr. Singer’s new yacht Xarifa.”


Monday 25 June 1894 - “TERRIBLE FALL FROM ALOFT - A YACHTSMAN KILLED. On Saturday morning a fatal accident happened on board the Xarifa, the new yacht built for Mr. Singer, which is lying off the yard of Mr. J.S. White, the builder, at Cowes. An able seaman named Harry Smart, aged 30 years, one of the yacht’s crew, was in rigging varnishing, when he slipped and fell to the deck, a distance of 43 feet. Captain Mundell, the captain of the yacht, immediately ran to him, and medical aid was procured with all speed. Drs. Damant and John Hoffmeister and another medical practitioner attended, and found that the poor fellow’s right thigh and both arms were fractured. He had also sustained terrible injuries to the head, and was in a comatose condition. He was conveyed to his home in Pelham-road, where he died about an hour after the fall. An inquest was held at the Granville Inn this morning, when the Jury returned a verdict of accidental death.”

THE YACHTSMAN – 28 June 1894.- “An exceedingly sad accident happened on board Mr. F. M. Singer’s steam yacht Xarifa on Saturday morning. A young man by the name of Smart was working near the truss of the foreyard, when he fell to the deck, a distance of more than 50 feet, and was terribly shattered, his arms, legs, and ribs being completely broken up. From the first it was seen that there was no possible hope for him, and after lingering in dreadful agony for nearly an hour and a half, he breathed his last. Harry Smart was one of the finest specimens of the British sailor that ever trod the deck of a ship, and the captain and all on board the ship deeply deplore his sad end. The Xarifa was lying off Mr. John Samuel White’s Falcon Yard, and is rapidly approaching completion.”


Wednesday 11 July 1894 - “COWES - YACHTING-. The Xarifa, s.s., goes out of harbour this morning, and after a short cruise will return to be fitted with the electric light.”


Saturday 14 July 1894 - “COWES.- YACHTING. Mr. Singer’s new auxiliary steam yacht Xarifa, 566 tons, went out for the trial of her machinery on Wednesday. The contract speed was 11¼ knots, but she developed 11¾ knots, the engines worked with remarkable smoothness, and the trial was altogether of a most satisfactory character. On Tuesday the vessel goes to Torquay to take Mr. Singer on board, and then proceeds to Cherbourg.”

THE YACHTSMAN – 19 July 1894 – “ COWES.- A fine, noble-looking ship is Mr. Franklyn M. Singer’s new auxiliary brigantine just designed and built by Mr. John Samuel White, of the Falcon Yard and Medina Dock. Her dimensions are: Length overall, 193 ft.; breadth, extreme, 26 ft. 6 in.; tonnage, builder’s measurement, 556. She has a clipper stem and square stern, with a graceful sheer fore and aft. The accommodation consists of main and deck saloons, owner’s and six other state-rooms, baths, w.c.’s, officers’ quarters, and forecastle. The state-rooms are exquisitely furnished in rare polished hardwoods, the furniture, upholstery, and hangings being exceedingly choice. Electric bells are fitted throughout in a most elaborate manner. The engines are of the compound surface-condensing type, with cylinders 16 in. and 38 in. by 30 in. stroke, working at 150 lb. steam pressure. Steam is supplied by a boiler 14 ft. 3 in. diameter by 9 ft. 6 in. long, having three corrugated furnaces. These proportions were adopted to secure the economical advantages of the triple-expansion engine, and to avoid the condensation and loss of effect usually experienced in triple engines when running at low speed. At the same time the machinery occupies less space, and is less expensive to maintain. The anticipated economy was fully realised on trial, the coal consumption being remarkably small.

The conditions to be fulfilled on the trial referred to were a speed of 11¼ knots as a mean of six runs on the measured mile, and afterwards a speed of 10¼ knots to be maintained for six hours continuously. The actual mean speed realised on the mile was 11.736 knots in the teeth of a strong head wind, boiler pressure being 150 lb., vacuum 27½, revolutions 112, I.H.P. 650. After this the engines were eased down to 98 revolutions, giving a mean speed of 10.6 knots; and this rate was maintained with ease during the six hours the trial continued. Built of teak and steel, the Xarifa is a splendid yacht, and worthy of the designer and builder who has turned her out.

The Xarifa having completed her equipment, left the port on Wednesday for Torquay.”


THE YACHTING WORLD - 3 August 1894 - “TRIAL TRIP OF XARIFA. On the 11th July this fine steam yacht had her official trial trip, everything working very satisfactorily, exceeding the owner’s and the builder’s expectations. Xarifa was built for Mr. Franklin M. Singer, by Mr. John Samuel White. She has been built to the highest class at Lloyd’s, and is of the following dimensions:- Length over all, 193ft.; breadth extreme, 26ft. 6in.; tonnage, 556 builder’s measurement. The yacht is brigantine-rigged. The accommodation consists of main saloon, owner’s room, six state rooms, and officers’ quarters, baths, w.c.’s, &c.

The cabins are fitted in polished hardwoods with upholstery to match. Engines are of the compound surface condensing type, with cylinders 16in. and 38in. diameter by 30in. stroke, working at 150lbs. steam pressure. Steam is supplied by one boiler, 14ft. 3in. diam. by 9ft. 6in. long, having three corrugated furnaces. These proportions were adopted in order to secure the economical  advantages of the triple expansion engine, and to avoid the condensation and loss of effect usually experienced in triple engines when running at low speed. At the same time the engines occupy less space and are less expensive to maintain. The anticipated economy was fully realised on the trial, the coal consumption being remarkably small. The actual mean speed realised was 11.736 knots against a strong head wind, boiler pressure being 150lbs, vacuum 27½, revolutions 112, indicated h.p. 650. Both vessel and engines were designed by Mr. John Samuel White.”





18 August 1894 - “DEAUVILLE, Friday night. There has been a considerable addition to the number of visitors here and at Trouville within the last few days; among the recent arrivals being.... Mr. Singer’s Xarifa.”


20 October 1894 - “COWES - Yachting. Mr. F.M. Singer’s auxiliary steam yacht Xarifa is at J.S. White’s yard at East Cowes, having her decks hardened and caulked. She is going to the Mediterranean, and will start on her voyage on the 1st of January.”


Saturday 8 December 1894 - “Cowes.- Mr. F. Singer’s yacht Xarifa is on J.S. White’s slip at West Cowes undergoing some alterations and additions.”


Saturday 29 December 1894 - “COWES.- The Fedora and the Xarifa are approaching the completion of their outfit.”




Friday 18 January 1895 - “COWES - The Xarifa, s.s., Mr. Singer, left Cowes on Thursday for the Mediterranean.


7 February 1895 - “The following yachts will be seen off Cannes.... Xarifa, 514 tons, F.M. Singer.”


Saturday 11 May 1895 - “COWES - The Xarifa, Mr. F.M. Singer’s large steam yacht, is also in harbour.”


Saturday 1 June 1895 - “COWES - Xarifa goes on the slip for painting on the 6th inst.”




9 July 1896 - “A telegram from Cowes, July 8, states that the steam yacht Xarifa took the ground off Norris, Isle of Wight, about 5.15 this morning in a fog, and will dock for examination.”


21 October 1896 - “The steam yacht Xarifa, arrived at Cowes, I.O.W., from the Mediterranean, and reports damage to headgear, bulwarks, &c., through a heavy sea.”


30 October 1896 - Xarifa fitting out at Cowes.




21 December 1897 -“ COWES - Mr. F. Singer’s steam yacht Xarifa is in J.S. White’s dock undergoing half-time survey. It is expected that her owner will take a long cruise in Norway early next year.”







27 May 1899 - Mr. Shuttleworth’s recently acquired Xarifa which has commenced fitting out, will be under the command of Captain Caines.”


21 June 1899 - Fitting out at Cowes.... Xarifa, aux., Major Shuttleworth.


2 August 1899 - Cowes Week - “Other big pleasure palaces are... Major F. Shuttleworth’s magnificent auxiliary steam yacht Xarifa which is black.”



Singer must have sold Xarifa in 1898 or 1899 to Major Shuttleworth.

Xarifa’s registry was closed in 1899.




XARIFA in 1898

USS Xarifa

In harbour, circa 1918-1919.
Built in 1894 and successively named Xarifa, Ophelie and Xarifa, this composite sailing yacht with auxiliary steam power was acquired by the American Navy on 9 August 1917 and placed in commission (New York) on 23 February 1918. She was returned to her owner on 4 May 1919.

[A number of websites incorrectly give her year of construction as 1896]

The original photograph is in Record Group 19-LCM in the National Archives.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

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