Category Archives: Projects

Northwest Seaport wins Historic Vessel Preservation Award

Historic Seattle Vessel Preservation Award 2014 Swiftsure

Northwest Seaport was honored to received the 2014 Historic Vessel Preservation Award and wish to thank Lake Union Drydock Co. for their support.

The Historic Vessel Preservation Award (presented by Historic Seattle) goes to Northwest Seaport Maritime Heritage Center and its supporting partner for blending maritime history, education and public outreach through the restoration of the heritage vessel and museum, Lightship No. 83.

Historic Vessel Preservation Award (PDF)
Lightship No. 83, “The Swiftsure”
South Lake Union Pier
Supporting Partners: Northwest Seaport Maritime Heritage Center (owner);  Lake Union Drydock Co. (restoration support).
Award was presented May 13, 2014.

(text from program) Lightship No. 83 was one of four original lightships to serve along the Pacific Coast with primary assignments at Blunts Reef, San Francisco and Coast Guard District 13. The vessel relies on a two-boiler steam engine with an indicated horsepower of 325 for propulsion. Originally, the vessel had a centralized stack between two masts with a concentration of oil lamps in each head to serve as lanterns.

Historic Seattle Preservation Award Ceremony Program 2014Lightship No. 83 was constructed in 1904 by the New York Shipbuilding Company in Camden, NJ and delivered to Cape Mendocino, CA, to serve as the first floating lighthouse at the Blunts Reef lightship station, the ship’s namesake from 1905-1930. The primary function of the vessel was to occupy a station a few miles from a point of access to a port center and serve as a floating beacon to incoming and outgoing ships. In 1930 Lightship No. 83 was transferred to and renamed “San Francisco.” It occupied a lightship station beyond the Golden Gate Bridge until 1942 when it was withdrawn and reclassified as a WWII examination vessel after the installation of a coastal defense gun. Following WWII, Lightship No. 83 returned to the San Francisco lightship station. From 1951-1960 Lightship No. 83 was stationed in Coast Guard District 13 and renamed “Relief.” The ship served Umatilla Reef, Swiftsure Banks and Columbia River lightship stations.

Lightship No. 83 was decommissioned by the Coast Guard in 1961. In 1968, it was purchased by Northwest Seaport (then known as Save Our Ships). It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1989 and in 1996, the vessel was given the name of the most proximate lightship station, “Swiftsure.”

After three months of extensive restoration in drydock, the Swiftsure was re-launched in August of 2013 in South Lake Union, where it currently serves as a floating museum showcasing the oldest surviving lightship on the West Coast. Restoration efforts included replacing the wooden deck; restoring the electrical system; rigging; removal of hazardous materials; and removal of the deteriorated wheelhouse, radio house and wood weather deck.

The hull was cleaned, reinforced, and painted with the distinctive Coast Guard Red color. The restoration provided a unique opportunity for distinguished shipwrights, Nautical Archaeologists and volunteers to work hand-in-hand to maintain the ship in a manner that preserves its historic functionality while ensuring its preservation for future generations. Volunteers are afforded the opportunity to learn and continue the practice of the maritime trade that is so pertinent to coastal areas of the Pacific Northwest. The restoration of the Swiftsure is a valuable model for linking the past, present and future in a manner that is both active and educational.

NOTE:  Northwest Seaport was honored to received the 2014 Historic Vessel Preservation Award and wish to thank Lake Union Drydock Co. for their support.  For a full list of awards, visit Historic Seattle.

Sponsors Build Excitement for CLASSIC WORKBOAT SHOW

Western Towboat CompanyRic Shrewsbury, co-owner of Western Towboat Company said, “Yes, I’ll support this event!” when he was one of the first telephoned regarding the Northwest Seaport Classic Workboat Show.  This show of ships bookends Seattle’s springtime Maritime Festival and will draw a couple thousand people to Lake Union Park and the Historic Ships Wharf.

Due to the extended shipyard period of Lightship No. 83 “Swiftsure,” the Seaport’s sponsorship solicitation schedule is a bit behind schedule.  However, towboat, shipyard and maritime-based companies and organizations are positively responding to the call for action.

Pacific Fishermen Shipyard with NorthwesternWith just a few phone calls, two Platinum sponsors, Western Towboat Company and Pacific Fishermen Shipyard, jumped aboard to show their support.  Early Platinum sponsors have an option to bring a classic/modern workboat of their own to the show or sponsor a classic vessel.  The public will board many show vessels to learn about their purpose, business and professions.

Platinum sponsor, Lake Union Drydock Company joins the Classic Workboat Show line-up, showing their support for Northwest Seaport Lake Union Drydock Companyand historic vessel restoration projects, such as work conducted on Lightship No. 83 “Swiftsure” their Seattle shipyard on Lake Union.  Lake Union Drydock Co. contributed thousands of dollars of in-kind support plus other valuable considerations to Northwest Seaport, and we’re proud to list them as event sponsors at the highest level.

Fremont Tugboat CompanyGold sponsor Fremont Tugboat Company, which operates most of their tugs around Lake Union and Puget Sound and is known as the Mini-Tug Service. They tow vessels up to 250 feet; towing vessels in and out of dry docks, assist anyone that needs an extra tug, shift barges, pile drivers, crabbers, tenders, long-liners, fish processors, Navy ships, NOAA ships and all kinds of yachts.   They write:  “You name it, we have moved it.”

Global Diving and Salvage

Gold sponsor Global Diving and Salvage, is the largest diving contractor on the West Coast, a leading provider of marine construction and infrastructure support services in the United States, and an internationally recognized casualty responder.  Global Diving supports Northwest Seaport efforts to create work force development programs.

Port of Seattle

Gold sponsor Port of Seattle, is a public agency that creates jobs by advancing trade and commerce, promoting industrial growth, and stimulating economic development. The Port of Seattle supports Northwest Seaport programs offering workforce development opportunities and public/business interactions.

Vigor IndustrialGold sponsor Vigor Industrial, Their companies share a common goal: providing world-class maritime and industrial services to build jobs, build and repair ships, and to build and strengthen the communities where we live and work.   Vigor’s support provides Northwest Seaport with ability to provide public programs focused on ship restoration projects.

Vulcan IncGold sponsor Vulcan Inc., whose mission is to create and advance a variety of world-class endeavors and high impact initiatives that change and improve the way we live, learn, do business and experience the world, supports Northwest Seaport’s public programs and community events.

WorkBoatGold sponsor WorkBoat, is a free online resource for commercial marine professionals, providing its members access to the latest news and information about the industry in a single place.  WorkBoat supports Northwest Seaport’s mission to educate the public about maritime professions and activities.

Silver sponsors, such as 48NorthThe Anchor Program, Alaska Fisheries Science Center-NOAA, Ballard Brothers Seafood and BurgersBuca di Beppo-SeattleFoss Maritime Company, Havorn Marine Services, ,LAZERQUICK PrintingLighthouse RoastersMarine Yacht PhotographyMaritime Pacific Brewing CompanyMaxum Petroleum, Ocean Trawler Yachts, LLCProfessional Mariner , and Wild Salmon Seafood Market are also supporting the Seaport and the show.  Their commitment underscores how both small and very large international companies will participate.

John N Cobb to participates in Classic Workboat Show at Lake Union Park's Historic Ships Wharf. Here it's docked with 1889 tug Arthur Foss.

John N Cobb to participate in Classic Workboat Show at Lake Union Park’s Historic Ships Wharf. Here it’s docked with 1889 tug Arthur Foss.

Providing educational opportunities for families and the public is a key objective of this maritime and marine event.  Northwest Seaport is partnering with NOAA and Alaska Fisheries Science Center to launch a marine science platform aboard the retired NOAA research vessel, JOHN N. COBB.  Additionally, Havorn Marine Services will host a “Marine Survey University” talk and The Anchor Program will engage potential mariners with classroom training options.

Sponsors will benefit from the fact that many families will be attending MOHAI’s Seattle Fire Day on October 5 (free museum attendance 10 am – 2 pm).  Fire engines and activities inside, co-sponsored by Seattle Fire Department, will draw nearly three thousand people, MOHAI staff speculated.

Sponsorship opportunities are still available!  Please contact Northwest Seaport to support this event.

New Northwest Seaport / CWB “Boatwright / Shipwright-in-Residence” a Success

Christine Jacobson working aboard the Arthur FossThe first session of the new Northwest Seaport/Center for Wooden Boats “Boatwright/Shipwright-In-Residence” program has concluded, and both organizations are planning on how to keep the innovative program going.  The joint program was kicked off in the fall of 2012 with Allen Fletcher and Christine Jacobsen, both recent grads of the Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building in Port Hadlock, coming to spend a 10-week residency at both organizations.

(Read about Jacobson’s experience aboard Arthur Foss below)

In exchange for a cabin, or berth on a historic tugboat and a small stipend, both budding boat builders got to work on the historic collections of Northwest Seaport and The Center for Wooden Boats. “This had all the components of our ideal program; living and working aboard our ships, pairing youth with experience, restoration through teaching, and close collaboration with our partner organizations,” said Nathaniel Howe, Nautical Archaeologist & Vessel Manager, Northwest Seaport. “It was great exactly what we were going for.”

“The goal was to give new graduates that first on the job experience,” said Kyle Hunter, CWB’s Boatshop Manager. “If we can help those new grads gain experience and benefit from their fresh perspective from school, we both win.”

At Lake Union Park, Jacobson lived on the historic tug Arthur Foss, while working on a wide range of projects.  Here’s her summary of her time as Boatwright-in-Residence with Northwest Seaport (For more about her time as Shipwright in Residence at The Center for Wooden Boats, check out the CWB Blog). 

ABOARD ARTHUR FOSS BY CHRISTINE JACOBSON — When people ask me how I got to a particular place I always respond with, “a long series of poor decisions” and thus I am taking part in the Northwest Seaport and Center for Wooden Boat’s Shipwright in Residence program. I certainly would not call my decision to take part in this program a poor one, even if some of the ones leading up to it weren’t stellar (note to self, always have an escape plan…). The program is ten weeks long with seven weeks spent working at the Center for Wooden Boats and three working on Northwest Seaport’s historic tugboat Arthur Foss.

Continue reading

Wooden Boat Dan Interview with Nathaniel Howe

Nathaniel Howe aboard tug Arthur Foss. Photo: Wooden Boat DanNathaniel Howe is Vessel Manager and Nautical Archeologist with Northwest Seaport. Reposted blog by Wooden Boat Dan, January 2013Play Podcast in new window and get the full scoop. (Dec 7, 2012 45 minute interview begins at 11:15)

Nat grew up in Seattle and as a young kid was building boat models out of milk cartons, wood, and assorted other materials he could scrounge up.  His parents and grandparents owned (and still own) anAllied Seawind 30’ which the family used to explore the Inside Passage around Vancouver Island and the San Juan Islands.   When Nate was 10 years old he discovered the 1897 three masted 165′ schooner Wawona on Lake Union in Seattle.  He fell in love with her and at age 11 built  a 5’ model of Wawona.  He also built a radio controlled model of the Arthur Foss tug after discovering that historic vessel in Seattle.

Nat attended Beloit College in WI to get his undergraduate degree in Museology.   During Continue reading

RFP Posted for Rehabilitation of the Lightship No. 83

Northwest Seaport is now requesting proposals for Phase II of the the Lightship No. 83 Rehabilitation Project, an exciting effort funded by federal, state, and local grants and designed to re-open the vessel to the public for events and programs. Phase II will replace the original wooden deck and repaint the iconic hull.  More information, available here. RFP as .pdf

Addenda to Lightship RFP

Attention marine contractors and bidders: we’ve just released the first addenda for the Lightship No. 83 Rehabilitation Project, clarifying some elements. You can download Addendum 1 here, or visit our project page for an updated copy of the RFP.  Download Full RFP

Read the complete RFP announcement here, and check back soon for more updates on this exciting project!

RFP Posted for Rehabilitation of the Lightship No. 83

Northwest Seaport is now requesting proposals for Phase I of the the Lightship No. 83 Rehabilitation Project, an exciting effort funded by federal, state, and local grants and designed to re-open the vessel to the public for events and programs. Phase I will stabilize and service the vessel, preparing it for the complete deck replacement planned for Phase II.  Read the complete RFP announcement here, and check back soon for more updates on this exciting project!

Stopping the Leaks on the Arthur Foss

We’ve started a new project on our 1889 tugboat Arthur Foss — we call it “Stop the Leaks!” The project is a $50,000 effort funded in part by a Heritage Landmarks Challenge grant from local arts-granting agency 4Culture. Its goal is to stop freshwater infiltration into the vessel from the topsides, which will help preserve it far into the future.

Shipwrights performed a detailed survey of the boat from the decks up this past December and have identified a wide variety of tasks for Stop the Leaks, from servicing the bollard pads to replacing cabin sheathing. Perhaps the most major sub-project, though, is to repair the bow stem, the forward-most piece of wood on the hull; it looks kind of like the boat’s nose in this picture:

That “nose” is a rubber fender made from layers of old tires and likely has been there since the Arthur was last rebuilt in the 1940s. It blocked the shipwrights from really seeing what was underneath, though, so the last step of the survey was to pull it off and take a look at what it’s been covering up. Here’s what we’ve found so far:


That’s the bare bow stem from the side.


And that’s from the top looking down. The bow is sheathed in iron, which has corroded and started flaking away — it’s easy to clean up, though.

The shipwrights are pretty glad we’re repairing the stem now: it’s one of the parts of a tugboat most succeptable to damage. Sure enough, Arthur‘s stem shows cracks and other other damage from past collisons, made during her long working career.

We’ll keep you updated here as we continue the Stop the Leaks project. You can also view some of the work for yourself by visiting Lake Union Park — it’s easy to see the Arthur‘s stem from the wharf, and we’ll resume our self-guided tour hours this spring.