Lightship New Bedford rolls over at its berth

This story is based on an article in the New Bedford Standard-Times of June 2, 2006.

Apersistent leak has caused the Lightship New Bedford to roll over on its side at its berth at the Commonwealth Electric Pier in New Bedford. The ship, owned by the city of New Bedford, could remain on its side for at least a week, according to John Simpson, executive director of the New Bedford Harbor Development Commission. The city is seeking estimates to lift the vessel out of the water for examination and repair, he added.

“We need to determine the cause (of the leak) and prevent it from happening,” Simpson told reporters.

According to the Coast Guard, the overturned lightship does not create any navigational or environmental hazards. “From what we know, there is no fuel onboard,” said Petty Officer Tiffany Carvalho of Marine Safety Detachment New Bedford.

The deactivated lightship has been leaking for several week, Simpson said, and had been pumped periodically. The city had intended to seek financial assistance from the Massachusetts Seaport Advisory Council for repairs. “It’s now a situation we have to deal with,” he said.

The 133-foot (40.5 m) lightship was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. One of only 13 surviving U.S. lightships, it has been in poor condition for years and is listed on the Lighthouse Digest Doomsday List. Lighthouse preservationists were quick to express their concern. “Let’s hope efforts to right the vessel and stop the leak that caused this disaster are successful. With so few lightships left in the country, we can ill-afford to lose this treasure,” said Bob Trapani of the American Lighthouse Foundation.