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.