Historic ship in Oyster Bay sold to Boston group
After deteriorating for more than six years at the Waterfront Center in Oyster Bay, the historic Nantucket Lightship has been sold for $1 by the National Lighthouse Museum to a new nonprofit group in Boston that plans to move it there next month and restore it as a museum.
Jerry Roberts, a board member of the National Lighthouse Museum, which has been trying to open for a decade on the Staten Island waterfront, said he and Robert Mannino Jr., head of the new United States Lightship Museum group, signed the transfer documents Tuesday.
The ship was based in Boston when it was not stationed off Nantucket Island to guide ships toward New York.
Because the planned museum site in Staten Island could not accommodate the lightship, it was brought temporarily to Oyster Bay, where it languished as the museum plans for a city-owned site stalled after Sept. 11, 2001. A succession of planned transfers to cities in Connecticut and Rhode Island fell through.
Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto had said that the ship could remain at the town pier at no charge until its future was assured. “As long as the lightship is going to be in good hands and be utilized for an appropriate purpose, I’m very satisfied with it,” he said of the transfer. “It’s time to put it to good use. We would still cooperate with whatever it takes” to make the transfer successful.
Roberts, director of the Connecticut River Museum in Essex, Conn., said the new group has raised almost $200,000 for a restoration. The transfer documents prevent the group from reselling the 73-year-old vessel for more than $1.
The 150-foot-long ship was built after its predecessor was rammed and sunk by the RMS Olympic, sister ship of the Titanic, marking the shoals off Nantucket, Mass. The British paid for the replacement, the world’s largest lightship.
During World War II, the vessel was painted gray and outfitted with guns before being assigned to guard the harbor at Portland, Maine.
Retired in 1975, the ship was designated a national historic landmark in 1989. It was docked at the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum in Manhattan before being acquired by the HMS Rose Foundation in Bridgeport, Conn., which sold it to the lighthouse museum in 2002 for $1.
By Bill Bleyer