United States lightship Swiftsure (LV-83)

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For other ships with the same name, see HMS Swiftsure.
Swiftsure 01.jpg
Lightship No. 83, also known as Swiftsure, 2007
United States
  • Lightship No. 83
  • Lightship WAL-508
Owner: U.S. Lighthouse Service; later U.S. Coast Guard
Builder: New York Shipbuilding Co.
Cost: $85,000
Launched: 1904
Acquired: c. 1905
Decommissioned: 18 July 1960
Out of service: 1960
Status: Museum ship
Notes: Now the oldest lightship afloat in the United States
General characteristics
Type: Lightship
Displacement: 668 tons
Length: 129 ft (39 m)
Beam: 28 ft 6 in (8.69 m)
Draft: 12 ft 6 in (3.81 m)
Decks: 4
Installed power: 2 Babcock & Wilcox sectional headed watertube boilers arranged for oil firing
Propulsion: 1 double expansion 325 IHP reciprocating steam engine; auxiliary sail (pre-1931)
Sail plan: Schooner rig on wood spencer masts
Speed: 9 knots (17 km/h; 10 mph)
Crew: 11-15 (5 officers and 6-10 men)
Notes: Only preserved lightship retaining its steam machinery
Lightship No. 83 "SWIFTSURE"
United States lightship Swiftsure (LV-83) is located in Washington (state)
United States lightship Swiftsure (LV-83)
Location Historic Ships Wharf, Lake Union Park, Seattle, WA
Coordinates 47°40′29.5″N 122°12′25.5″W / 47.674861°N 122.207083°W / 47.674861; -122.207083Coordinates: 47°40′29.5″N 122°12′25.5″W / 47.674861°N 122.207083°W / 47.674861; -122.207083
Area Lake Union Park, South Lake Union, Seattle
Built 1904
Architect New York Shipbuilding Co.; US Lighthouse Establishment
Architectural style Riveted steel hull with wooden decks
NRHP Reference # 75001852[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHP 23 April 1975[1]
Designated NHL 11 April 1989[3]
Designated SEATL March 7, 1977[2]

Swiftsure (LV-83), is a lightship launched in Camden, New Jersey, in 1904 and now moored in Seattle, Washington. She steamed around the tip of South America to her first station at Blunts Reef in California, where she saved 150 people when their ship ran aground in dense fog. Formerly known as Relief, Number 83 had numerous names on her sides, all of which indicated the location of her station. Swiftsure refers to the Swiftsure Bank near the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, which separates Washington from Vancouver Island. She also guided ships near Umatilla Reef and the Columbia River Bar.

Swiftsure is one of the oldest lightships in the country and the only one to have her original steam engines. She is 129 feet (39 m) long, with a beam of 28 feet 6 inches (8.69 m) and a draft of 12 feet 6 inches (3.81 m). Her displacement is 668 tons. Her aids to navigation include a 1,000 watt primary light, a 140-decibel Diaphone horn, and a 1,000-pound (450 kg) foredeck fog bell.

The ship was decommissioned in 1960, and purchased by Northwest Seaport in 1969. She is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1989,[3][4] and is on the Washington State Heritage Register. She is moored on Lake Union, in Seattle, Washington, for restoration.


  1. ^ a b National Park Service (2007-01-23). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ "Landmarks and Designation". City of Seattle. Retrieved 2013-03-04. 
  3. ^ a b "Lightship No. 83 RELIEF". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2007-11-18. 
  4. ^ Delgado, James P. (9 July 1988). "National Register of Historic Places Registration Form / Lightship No. 83 "Blunts" "San Francisco" "Relief" / Lightship "Relief"" (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-09-17.  and
    "Accompanying 6 photos, from 1988 and undated" (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-09-17. 

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