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Only One Survives

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Three important United States Lighthouse Service vessels are shown here on July 4, 1922 at California’s Goat Island Lighthouse Depot, which later became the Yerba Buena Lighthouse Depot.

Shown left to right are the lighthouse tender Sequoia, the lighthouse tender Madrono, and the Blunts Reef Lightship LV 83, which later served as the San Francisco Lightship from 1930 to 1942 and again from 1945 to 1951, as the Examination Vessel during World War II from 1942 to 1945, as the Relief Lightship LV 83 from 1951 to 1960, and finally, in 1996 she was renamed the Swiftsure Lightship LV 83.

The lighthouse tender Sequoia, which was commissioned in 1909, once flew the presidential flag when, on July 31, 1923, it hosted President Warren G. Harding only one week before his death. The Sequoia was decommissioned in 1946 and given to the government of the Philippines. The tender Madrono was built in 1885 and decommissioned in 1927. Although we don’t know for sure, it is likely that both tenders no longer exist. However, the LV 83 is still around as the Swiftsure Lightship, and is open for viewing at the Historic Ships Wharf in Lake Union Park at the Northwest Seaport Maritime Heritage Center in Seattle, WA.

This story appeared in the Jul/Aug 2017 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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