Seattle Lightship Back Home

Lightship No. 83 - Swiftsure

Lightship No. 83, also known by its last station at Swiftsure Bank, is back at its berth in Seattle.

The 1904 Lightship No. 83, also known as “Swiftsure,” has returned to her berth at Lake Union Park in Seattle, and I finally had a chance to visit and take a few pictures. I love her bright red paint and the “new” feel to her. I bet she has that “new car smell” on the inside. The shroud in the photo is actually her winter cover, meant to keep as much of Seattle’s damp off her as possible. Access to the ship is limited, and she needs another $1 million to complete the restoration project. See my previous blog post for more details.

Seattle Lightship Nearly Ready for Re-Launch

Lightship No. 83 Swiftsure

Lightship No. 83 – Swiftsure before her restoration work. Photo by Joe Follansbee.

A Seattle preservation group plans to re-launch a historic lightship after three months of restoration work. Lightship No. 83, also known as Lightship Swiftsure, is nearing completion of the second phase of Northwest Seaport’s $1 million project to replace the deck, rigging, remove hazardous materials, and restore the Swiftsure’s primary electrical systems. When finished, the ship will be re-opened to the public at Lake Union Park in Seattle.

Crews at Lake Union Drydock Company in Seattle have removed the deteriorated wheelhouse, radio house, and the wooden weather deck.  Deck beams were cleaned, primed and painted to prepare for installation of a new wooden deck. Sections of original 1904 planking were discovered still in place.  Saxon Bisbee, Northwest Seaport’s archaeologist, said, “We discovered 100-year old pitch and oakum still in just a few seams. This is a direct link back to Camden shipwrights.“ The lightship was built in Camden, New Jersey in 1904.

Below the waterline, the hull was cleaned, inspected, patched and reinforced.  The entire hull was also painted with the Coast Guard Red paint.  Most of the 109-year old hull was declared sound, but corrosion had made several small holes in hull plating. Emptying the tanks and patching the steel hull plating sent the project $80,000 over budget.

The final days in drydock will include replacing the lightship’s beacon light, painting on the white station lettering “SWIFTSURE,” and re-launching the vessel into Lake Union. Tugs will return her to the Historic Ships Wharf at Lake Union Park. “Relighting the lightship will be an inspiring symbol for our community, and we’re blessed have this life-saving National Historic Landmark in Seattle,” said Otto Loggers, Northwest Seaport executive director.

Source: Northwest Seaport

Restoration Work on Lightship Swiftsure

Lightship Swiftsure

The lightship Swiftsure is undergoing restoration and hazardous materials abatement in Seattle.

Northwest Seaport Maritime Heritage Center in Seattle is in the midst of building a new and historically accurate upper deck on the lightship Swiftsure, which is a National Historic Landmark. Nautical archaeologists have generate blueprints by documenting existing structures on the lightship’s upper deck. They have spent hours removing artifacts, such as the ship’s wheel, deckhouse windows, and the ship’s bell.

The vessel, designated Lightship No. 83 or “LV-83” when it was in service, is currently at the Lake Union Shipyard in Seattle, where it will undergo a survey. Rotted deck wood and the deckhouses will also be removed. “The shipyard will conduct hazardous materials abatement and cleaning of the steel deck framing,” says Shannon Fitzgerald, Northwest Seaport board president.

Launched in 1904, the lightship is is need of significant restoration, says Nathaniel Howe, Northwest Seaport vessel manager. “When the ship returns to the Historic Ships Wharf [at Seattle’s Lake Union Park], the deck rebuild project will be on display for the public to observe as shipwrights and their apprentices lay, fasten, and caulk the new wooden deck.”

The Swiftsure shipyard project is one of Northwest Seaport’s top priorities. The organization also owns the 1889 tug Arthur Foss.