Lighthouse tenders were ships that were specifically designed to maintain, support, or tend to lighthouses or lightships by providing supplies, fuel, mail, and transportation. The tender Lilac was launched in Wilmington, Delaware, in 1933.
Nearly 175 feet long, Lilac was equipped with a steam-powered boom that could lift buoys weighing 14 tons or more. Lilac was assigned to the Fourth Lighthouse District covering Delaware Bay and its approaches, north to Trenton, New Jersey.
Today, Lilac is a museum ship at Pier 25 in the Tribeca section of Hudson River Park in New York City. The ship is now open to the public on a regular basis. Mary Habstritt is the museum director and president for the Lilac Preservation Project. She also works as a freelance historical consultant, interpreting and telling the stories of America’s manufacturing and engineering past.
Jeremy D’Entremont is the author of more than 20 books and hundreds of articles on lighthouses and maritime history. He is the president and historian for the American Lighthouse Foundation and founder of Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouses, and he has lectured and narrated cruises throughout the Northeast and in other regions. He is also the producer and host of the U.S. Lighthouse Society podcast, “Light Hearted.” He can be emailed at Jeremy@uslhs.org