Figure 1: The River class frigate HMCS Stormont (K327) in 1945. She had an active wartime career during the latter part of World War II. Royal Canadian Navy photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 2: HMCS Stormont (K327) as she appeared during World War II. Royal Canadian Navy photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 3: In 1954, HMCS Stormont (K327) was sold to the Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis. The ship was converted into a luxury yacht for Onassis for $4,000,000, an enormous sum of money for those days. The converted frigate was re-named “Christina,” after the owner’s daughter, Christina Onassis. This photograph shows how the ship appeared in 1963. Photograph courtesy of the Associated Press. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 4: Christina as she appears today, now called Christina O, after Christina Onassis, by her current owner. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 5: While under the ownership of Aristotle Onassis, the luxurious Christina hosted a vast number of movie stars and foreign dignitaries. In 1956, Prince Rainier of Monaco and American movie star Grace Kelly held their wedding reception on board the boat, which could accommodate 36 guests in 18 private staterooms. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 6: Former Prime Minister Winston Churchill chatting with Aristotle Onassis on board Christina on Christmas, 1959. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 7: British actor Richard Burton phones London from Christina while Elizabeth Taylor chats with a friend while the pair attended Onassis’ party while the yacht was anchored near St. Marks Square in Venice, Italy. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 8: Onassis’ love affair with opera singer Maria Callas, both seen here on board Christina, was a major news story in its day, but the romance ended abruptly in 1968 when Onassis began courting President John F. Kennedy’s widow, Jackie. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 9: Onassis and his new bride, Jackie, were married on Onassis’ private island of Scorpios and the couple returned to Christina after the ceremonies. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 10: Onassis and his wife, the former Jacqueline Kennedy, are seen here on board Christina shortly before sailing to Martinique. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 11: The newly refurbished Christina O as she appears today. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 12: The newly refurbished Christina O as she appears today, visiting a port in the Mediterranean. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 13: The swimming pool on board Christina O as it looks today. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 14: The dining room on board Christina O as it looks today. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 15: The bar on the aft deck on board Christina O as it looks today. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 16: The luxury lounge on board Christina O still has the original piano where singers like Maria Callas and Frank Sinatra would entertain guests. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 17: The glamorous marble-railed atrium staircase spans three decks on board Christina O. The dining room and the public rooms are located next to this staircase. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 18: The library on board Christina O. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 19: One of the indoor bars on board Christina O. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 20: A Classic Hacker-Craft speedboat tender races to one of the world’s most famous yachts, the Christina O. Photograph courtesy of George Onassis, 1998. Click on photograph for larger image.
Named after Stormont County in Canada, the 1,445-ton HMCS Stormont (K327) was a River class frigate built for the Canadian Navy during World War II by Canadian Vickers Limited at Montreal, Canada. The ship was commissioned on 27 November 1943 and was approximately 325 feet long and 36 feet wide, had a top speed of 20 knots, and had a crew of 157 officers and men. Stormont was armed with two 4-inch guns, one 12-pounder gun, eight 20-mm guns, and depth charges.
After being commissioned, Stormont was assigned to the Royal Canadian Navy’s Atlantic Fleet and was based at Halifax, Nova Scotia. After a brief shakedown cruise, the ship was used as a convoy escort against German U-boats during the Battle of the Atlantic. Stormont also escorted merchant convoys to Murmansk, Russia, and then to Gibraltar in the Mediterranean. During the Allied invasion of Normandy on 6 June 1944, D-Day, Stormont was part of “Operation Neptune,” the naval aspect of the invasion. Once her duties off the coast of Normandy ended, Stormont resumed escorting convoys, especially to Russia. Several months after the war ended, on 9 November 1945, HMCS Stormont was decommissioned.
Stormont languished in reserve as war surplus until 1954, when shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis bought the frigate for $34,000, basically what the ship was worth in those days for scrap metal. Onassis had the ship gutted and took advantage of the frigate’s large hull and powerful engines and engineering systems to create the most modern and luxurious yacht of her day. The ship was rebuilt and converted by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW) shipyard at Kiel, Germany, and when the massive renovations were completed, the final cost was an astounding $4 million, the equivalent of $45 million today. The new yacht was named Christina, after Onassis’ daughter Christina Onassis. Aside from having some of the most ornate cabins and interiors found on a private yacht, the ship also boasted such elaborate luxuries as a mosaic swimming pool that, when drained, could be elevated to create a dance floor.
Almost immediately, Christina became a major social-gathering spot for celebrities and influential politicians from all over the world. Some of the famous guests on board the yacht included Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, John Paul Getty, John D. Rockefeller, Eva Peron, Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, and John Wayne, to name a few. In 1956, Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier of Monaco held their wedding reception on board the ship. There was even an interesting story that Sir Winston Churchill, who was a frequent guest on board the yacht, asked Onassis to invite John F. Kennedy (then a promising young senator) and his wife Jackie to join them on the boat during a visit to Monte Carlo. It is said that Onassis then told the young American couple that they could not join Onassis and Churchill for dinner and that they had to leave by 8 PM! As we all know, Onassis later married Jackie Kennedy and the couple spent many days on Christina.
When Onassis died in 1975, the ship was inherited by his daughter, who in turn gave it the Greek government in 1978 to serve as a presidential yacht. The boat was re-named Argo for a number of years and, sadly, was allowed to deteriorate.