Lighthouse Tender LILAC Returns to Staten Island, NY
The 1933-built U.S. Lighthouse Tender LILAC, returns to Staten Island for the first time in at least 43 years on Tuesday, September 8th. She will be departing Pier 25 at about 10:00 a.m. and tying up at Caddell Dry Dock and Repair for the afternoon to appear in a commercial celebrating the 1937 arrival of the Italian immigrants. The ship will return to Manhattan the same evening once shooting is completed. LILAC will be towed by Miller’s Tug and Barge, Inc. based on Staten Island.
Assigned to the Fourth Lighthouse District, LILAC carried supplies to lighthouses and maintained buoys and other aids to navigation on the Delaware River from Trenton, NJ south to Lewes, DE. When the ship needed maintenance or upgrades to equipment, she went to the Staten Island Depot, although the Depot primarily served the Third Lighthouse District, stretching from Sandy Hook up to Albany. Later, as lighthouses became automated, maintenance of local tenders was moved to the Coast Guard’s shipyard in Curtis Bay, MD and the depot on Staten Island was closed.
Building 11, once the machine shop of the Staten Island Lighthouse Service Depot, is now the home of the National Lighthouse Museum. The museum has proposed bringing historic vessels significant to the history of the U.S. Lighthouse Service and Coast Guard to the 850-ft. pier outside the museum. Linda Dianto, Executive Director, said, “It is thrilling to know the LILAC is returning to the shores of Staten Island for this memorable shoot. We would be delighted if this tender could berth on Staten Island long term on Pier 1 and play an integral part of the National Lighthouse Museum’s maritime heritage programming.”
LILAC’s Museum Director Mary Habstritt added, “It would be most apt to bring our museum exhibits and programming to a place that played such an important role in maritime history.” Last year, over 12,000 visitors enjoyed maritime, arts, and environmental programs on the ship.
LILAC is the last steam-powered lighthouse tender in America and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is eligible to become a National Historic Landmark. Launched on May 26, 1933, she served the U.S. Lighthouse Service and then the U.S. Coast Guard until she was decommissioned in 1972. LILAC is currently being restored as a unique vehicle for maritime education and community activities and is berthed at Hudson River Park’s Pier 25 in New York City.
MARTIN COX - Founder and publisher of MaritimeMatters, inspired by maritime culture and technology growing up in the port of Southampton. He works as a photographer in Los Angeles, and his works has been exhibited in LA, San Francisco, New York, London and Iceland. Martin is the co-writer of the book “Hollywood to Honolulu; the story of the Los Angeles Steamship Company” published by the Steam Ship Historical Society of America. The Los Angeles Maritime Museum has commissioned artworks and collected his photographs.