Next-Phase Nantucket Lightship Restoration Underway

Since 2009, Eastie has played host to a national treasure. The giant red lightship docked on Marginal Street at the Boston Harbor Shipyard and Marina was declared a National Historic Landmark (NHL) in 1989. Since then, there has been a push locally to restore the historic Nantucket Lightship, also known as Lightship No. 112, or simply LV-112. 

Leader of the ship’s museum, the U.S. Lightship Museum (USLM), Robert Mannino, Jr. said the next phase to historically restore the Nantucket Lightship is well underway, jointly funded by grants from the City of Boston’s Community Preservation Act and a National Park Service “Save America’s Treasures” grant. 

“LV-112’s dry-docking had been delayed, due to the backlog of commercial vessels waiting to be dry-docked at the Fitzgerald Shipyard in Boston Harbor, so the USLM has scheduled as much as possible of the restoration and maintenance work at LV-112’s homeport berth while the ship is in the water,” said Mannino. “However, the majority of the restoration work required is located at and below the waterline, which can only be accomplished while LV-112 is in dry-dock.”

Mannino said LV-112’s port and starboard pilot house doors, both badly corroded, were removed and taken to the Lightship Group’s offsite facility and dismantled to be fully restored. 

“The corroded sections will be cut out and new steel sections will be cropped, welded and cosmetically finished. The door latch mechanisms also will be restored,” he said. 

Recently, the efforts to restore and preserve the Nantucket got a huge boost when it was awarded a Save America’s Treasures (SAT) grant from the National Park Service, in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the National Endowment of the Humanities, and the National Endowment for the Arts. 

The USLM, the non-profit organization that has been overseeing the Nantucket’s restoration, received a $487,500 grant to restore internal structural components and provide general maintenance critical to maintaining the integrity of the ship’s hull and ability to remain open to the general public for decades to come.

At the time of its NHL designation the Nantucket was the last serving lightship and one of only two capable of moving under its own power.

The ship, which was docked in Oyster Bay, Staten Island at the time, and was purchased for $1 by the USLM under the leadership of Mannino. The ship arrived in Eastie in October 2009.

The U.S. Lightship Museum’s primary mission is to restore and preserve the Nantucket Lightship as a National Historic Landmark, National Treasure, and operate the ship as a museum and floating educational center in Eastie that is open to the general public.  In addition, the museum provides interactive educational programs for grade-school students and under-served youths in Boston, especially in the Eastie.

“The funds from grants directed towards LV-112’s restoration and preservation also benefits the community and local economy, as we will hire local contractors and purchase materials, equipment and services from regional vendors and suppliers,” said Mannino. “Moreover, the generosity of private and public donors helps maintain our nation’s important and unique historic sites, critical to preserving our country’s heritage for everyone to learn from and enjoy. Learning from our past is so important in guiding us into the future.”

Last year, the USLM also was awarded $575,000 from the City of Boston through a Community Preservation Act (CPA-Boston) grant. The CPA-Boston grant serves as the required matching funds for the SAT grant.  

“The USLM is sincerely grateful to everyone for their support and assistance that were so instrumental in helping us obtain these two transformational grants, directed to Nantucket LV-112’s restoration and preservation,” said Mannino. “To perform the necessary restoration and maintenance work, LV-112 will need to be hauled out of the water and dry-docked, for which preparations are currently underway.”

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