Swiftsure Lightship, the turning point for the original Swiftsure Lightship Cup Races, was a US Coastguard Lightship originally stationed on Swiftsure Bank starting in 1909. From then until 1961, a lightship stood on station at the Swiftsure Bank. The final ‘Swiftsure’ lightship was Lightship Vessel (LV) #83, but LV #113 was the first to serve for the inaugural 1930 Swiftsure Race and was recognizable by her red hull and ‘Swiftsure’ lettering. While #113 was in refit, the ‘Relief’ ship, #83 would stand on station; it was this same hull that would become the final Swiftsure Lightship.
During WW II, a buoy temporarily replaced the lightship as all serviceable ships were needed for the war. Afterward, #83 was assigned to mark Swiftsure Bank until 1961. Since then, Swiftsure Bank turning point has been marked by a Royal Canadian Naval Ship during the Swiftsure Race.
#83, the final Swiftsure Lightship, has taken on a new life at the Northwest Seaport Marine Heritage Center. She is undergoing extensive restoration to return her to her original condition as the Swiftsure lightship (her last assigned duty station). Swiftsure now resides in Seattle as a National Historic Landmark at Historic Ships Wharf in Lake Union Park. She was re-launched 21 August 2013 and reopened to visitors on 5 October, 2013. She was one of hundreds of Lightships that aided navigation in US coastal waters.
Swiftsure International Yacht Race organizers have been in touch with the Northwest Seaport Marine Heritage Center and hope to see #83 up at the Swiftsure race sometime in the future.
Swiftsure Lightships – a brief outline of lightship vessels standing on Swiftsure Bank (more detail):
#93; 1909 – 1930 Yellow Hull, Black ‘Swiftsure’ lettering – first lightship to stand on station at Swiftsure Banks
#113; 1930 – 1942 Red Hull – inaugural Swiftsure Lightship; #113 sank while being towed to Alaska
#83; Built in 1904, 1945 – 1960 final Swiftsure Lightship, Red Hull, White ‘Swiftsure’ lettering USCG Additional Detail for LV83