Streams

Ambrose Lightship Returns to South Street Seaport Museum

Monday, March 05, 2012

The South Street Seaport Museum has been missing a key piece of its maritime collection since January: the Ambrose lightship. The vessel, built in 1908, was sent over to Staten Island for repairs. Flanked by an FDNY water boat salute — streams of water announcing her return — the Ambrose docked at home on Monday.

“I knew it was painted over, as soon as I saw it,” said Rene Vega, 34, who wondered why it was missing. Vega comes to the Seaport everyday and was one of dozens of onlookers greeting the ship.

The ship hadn’t been out of water for 23 years, according to Jonathan Boulware, waterfront director at South Street Seaport. He was one of four crew members on deck during the smooth hour long journey across Lower New York Bay.

“I cannot say how thrilled we are to be back here at the museum,” he said.

The Ambrose served as a lightship, like a floating light house, that guided ships arriving at the Ambrose channel until 1963.

“For people who were making their first passage from Europe into New York, the Ambrose light ship might have been the first thing they saw of this continent,” Boulware said.

Visitor will notice a shiny new coat of Signal Red paint on the boat above the water line, and below are several layers of epoxy paint, which Boulware is hoping will last for another 15-20 years.

He says the museum is still raising funds to refurbish the leaky deck and interior quarters, and hopes to open the ship to the public by the spring.

Crew members from the South Street Seaport Museum tying up the ship at the dock.
Stephen Nessen/WNYC

Crew members from the South Street Seaport Museum tying up the ship at the dock.

The Ambrose Lightship traveled from Staten Island being pulled by this tugboat.
Stephen Nessen/WNYC

The Ambrose Lightship traveled from Staten Island, pulled by this tugboat.

Jonathan Boulware on the Ambrose directing his crew on tying off the ship.
Stephen Nessen/WNYC

Jonathan Boulware on the Ambrose directing his crew on tying off the ship.

View from the Captains deck on the Ambrose Lightship.
Stephen Nessen/WNYC

View from the Captains deck on the Ambrose Lightship.

Gears that raise and lower the anchor on the Ambrose.
Stephen Nessen/WNYC

Gears that raise and lower the anchor on the Ambrose.

Dozens of communication devices and radios on board the Ambrose.
Stephen Nessen/WNYC

Dozens of communication devices and radios on board the Ambrose.

A WWII hand-crank radio onboard the Ambrose.
Stephen Nessen/WNYC

A WWII hand-crank radio onboard the Ambrose.

A device used called a RDF, radio direction finder, which was to find the bearing of a radio contact. Used when a boat might send out a SOS.
Stephen Nessen/WNYC

A device used called a RDF, radio direction finder, which was to find the bearing of a radio contact. Used when a boat might send out a SOS.

A type writer for typing out morse code signals.
Stephen Nessen/WNYC

A type writer for typing out morse code signals.

The Ambrose ship pulling into South Street Seaport.
Stephen Nessen/WNYC

The Ambrose ship pulling into South Street Seaport.

Captain's wheel on board the Ambrose.
Stephen Nessen/WNYC

Captain's wheel on board the Ambrose.

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