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Ship’s New Life Honors an Old Service

Friday, April 6, 2012

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For 39 years, Nantucket Lightship/LV-112 guided transoceanic shipping to and from U.S. East Coast ports, through some of the most treacherous shipping lanes in the world.

LV-112 was the most remote lightship station in the world, 100 miles off the mainland, in international waters.  Following decommissioning in 1975, LV-112 fell into disrepair after many years of abandonment.

 U.S. Lightship Museum

 U.S. Lightship Museum

The Nantucket (shown in 1936) “possesses national significance in commemorating the history of the United States of America,” the National Park Service said in 1989 when it declared the vessel a National Historic Landmark.

Today, the venerable old ship has been rescued and is being restored to make a comeback under the watchful eye of the nonprofit United States Lightship Museum (USLM).

With the help of volunteers and donations from Sherwin-Williams and other corporations, private foundations and individuals, the USLM brought returned the ship to her original homeport of Boston and will reopen the restored vessel to the public as a floating learning center and museum.

Lightship Service

The floating museum will chronicle the maritime history of the U.S. Lightship Service, which operated from 1820 to 1985. In all, 179 lightships were built between 1820 and 1952.

At one time, 51 lightships were stationed at various locations on the East and West Coasts and Great Lakes. Today, only 17 lightships still exist, including nine that serve as museums.

 The radio room was a key communications center in 1936.

 U.S. Coast Guard

The radio room was a key communications center in 1936.

The Nantucket, a commissioned U.S. Coast Guard lightship vessel, was the largest and most famous U.S. lightship ever built.

Based in Boston, the vessel was stationed on the treacherous Nantucket Shoals from 1936 to 1975.

The Nantucket was the first symbol of America encountered by thousands of immigrants, the museum says. Naval cargo vessels and many storied ships—the SS United States, the Queen Mary and others—depended on her as a navigational aid.

‘Floating Lighthouse’

Lightship museum organizers want visitors to experience “what lightship service was like for crewmembers living aboard these ‘floating lighthouses,’ whose duty was to stay on their station regardless of conditions, faithfully and courageously guiding transoceanic commerce to and from the United States through dangerous seas,” the museum’s website reports.

 A painting by Charles Mazoujian commemorates the 1934 accidental sinking of the original Nantucket / LV-117 by the Cunard-White Star limited liner RMS Olympic (a sister ship of the Titanic).

 U.S. Lightship Museum

A painting by Charles Mazoujian commemorates the 1934 accidental sinking of the original Nantucket / LV-117 by the Cunard-White Star limited liner RMS Olympic (a sister ship of the Titanic). Seven of the Nantucket’s 11 crew members perished. The British government then built the LV-112 (also named the Nantucket) as reparation.

The museum will also offer interactive programs in collaboration with educational institutions, maritime and marine-science organizations. Down the road, the USLM hopes to help establish a maritime center for Boston Harbor.

Restoration Project

Sherwin-Williams provided both protective coatings and technical expertise to help restore the lightship’s exterior hull.

The hull restoration was performed while the LV-112 was dry-docked at Fitzgerald Shipyard in Chelsea, MA. Because the vessel was built in 1936, it has a riveted hull. Aging and neglect had taken their toll on the hull; the armored steel shell plating had visible areas of pitting from active corrosion caused by the seawater and electrolysis.

 Restoration work on the Nantucket continues in Boston, as organizers prepare to transform the old lightship into a floating museum honoring the vessel and the U.S. Lightship Service.

Photos: U.S. Lightship Museum

Restoration work on the Nantucket continues in Boston, as organizers prepare to transform the old lightship into a floating museum honoring the vessel and the U.S. Lightship Service.

The restoration project used Sherwin-Williams’ SeaGuard 5000HS Epoxy, SeaVoyage Ablative Antifoulant and Proline 4800, a coatings system designed to both provide protection from future corrosion and fouling and to restore the ship’s appearance.

After the hull work, the vessel was returned to her berth at the Boston Harbor Shipyard & Marina in East Boston on Feb. 21.

‘Icon for Endurance’

“Sherwin-Williams’ support was crucial to our success in preserving one of America’s most unique historic landmarks,” said USLM president Robert Mannino Jr.

 “LV-112 symbolizes the courage and tenacity of those who served on the ship, through life-threatening danger and the horrific weather it encountered at sea. Nantucket/LV-112 is an icon for endurance and an example of the high-quality, state-of-the-art construction and craftsmanship that I believe is compatible with Sherwin-Williams products. “


Tagged categories: Antifoulants; Corrosion protection; Historic Preservation; Historic Structures; Marine Coatings; Restoration; Sherwin-Williams

Comment from Mike McCloud, (4/9/2012, 8:08 AM)

It is great to see companies like Sherwin Williams and Fitzgerald shipyard donate their time,materials and services to treasures like this. Nice job.

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