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

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