You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘USCG WLM-227 Lilac’ tag.

ACV Enviro provides boom service at IMTT;  this means they use a small boat to deploy and retrieve oil containment precautionary booms around vessels  transferring petroleum products there.  Here and here are examples appearing here previously. I don’t know how long booming has been required– years, I suppose;  it’s not new.

Miss Beth, however, is a new boat.  At least, this is my first time to see her.  My question is . . . what was her previous life?  She looks military.


The photo quality below is not the best, but I hope you find it as interesting as I do:  Left to right, most prominently that’s Martin Explorer and Douglas J., whose livery says Donjon and whose lines are unmistakably those of the former Mediterranean Sea.  Before that, she was Donald CInterestingly, I believe I see the stack of Lilac there too, just forward and above the stack of Douglas J.

Also, this is not a great photo of Annie Moore, a relatively new hull in the boro, given that this Bristol Harbor Group-designed (Or was it designed by TAI Engineers??) workboat was delivered at most a half year ago to work the Statue of Liberty for the National Park Service.   This is my first sighting for this boat. Her namesake is a 17-year-old Irish immigrant, the first person to pass through Ellis Island in early 1892 from steamer Nevada. Click here for more of the Annie Moore immigrant story.

Many thanks to Tony A for catching the Douglas J photo;  all others, WVD.


I believe this is the first time I post a photo of 1961 FDNY Alfred E. Smith.  She was sold to private owners in 2016. 

Nearer the mainland on Pier 25, Lilac has held this berth since 2011.

USACE Gelberman has been a regular here, as has 


USACE Driftmaster has worked collecting debris since 1949!  I wonder how plans to replace her are coming along. 

I could not identify this heavily-laden sludge  . . . I mean GUP . . . carrier. 

NYPD’s Cardillo and 

Hansen are two boats of the Harbor Unit, itself a part of NYPD since 1858.  Hansen has been in service since 1994. 

Soderman is the current occupant at Bayonne Drydock & Repair.

Oops!  It’s Alice and OllisAlice Austen usually runs in the wee hours, and Ollis arrived in the boro back in August and will enter service as soon as training is complete. 


All photos, WVD.


OK . . . I’ve got had with the the “vessel demolition” gag.  How embarrassing!   .  Check the comments for part 3;  the problems with the design are real.  Talk about confirmation bias!  Yes, I do not like the structure, a $200 million place to take selfies!  Egads!

Here’s a call to help with a renewed effort to return Lilac to full operation;  I’d say that’s restore and not just preserve.  You might recall the photos I posted in November 2020 that gave the illusion that the lighthouse tender was underway using her own power.   

This is a wish list for parts for getting Lilac back together, and some of these might be quite scarce.  Four of the 13″ port lights are missing.

Here’s a close-up.

Also, a set of 12″ or 14″ ventilation stacks as seen on the bow below

and below.  Ideally, they would be of riveted construction and can pivot.

Details of Lilac can be seen in these two posts I did back in 2007.  In the photos, you see both the port lights and ventilation stacks.

A lot of restoration or preservation projects are getting more difficult by the year as parts and people with the needed skills become more and more rare, but miracles have already happened with Lilac, miracles such as descendants of crew coming forward with stuff.


It’s been a while since Lilac appeared here, but this illusion of the steamer under way on her own power was thrilling.  I’m not adept enough at photo manipulation to add the right measure of smoke from her stack.  

And yes, the prime mover here is Michael Miller, with Susan nearby as well.  .

Like a vessel steaming in from another era,


it was great to see Lilac under way. 

All photos, WVD, who is unaware of the length of her duration at Caddells.

Photos of her engine can be seen here.

Here are previous posts in this series.

There is some self-disclosure here:  since last winter and thanks to my movie-buff son, I’ve gotten hooked on movies based on comics.  So, recently, to my surprise, while watching Gotham, I saw Marie J. Turecamo and one of the 6000s in a CGI-noir of an East River scene.  She’s unmistakeable.  Season 1, episode 11 has all these, along with some FDNY vessels, a NYCDEP tanker, and recognizable barges.

And with apologies to the actor, that is one of the Harley boats, St. Andrews (my guess) or Liberty.

And this . . . ABC-1, with a very odd mast.

I realize some of these are not tugs, but categories are made to be challenged.  In the next two photos, I’d heard that Lilac was used for a Daredevil scene, so I watched the series–not liking it at first–until I got to the scene.  By the time I got there, I was a fan.

Clearly filmed in the Navy yard, I have to say I’m impressed by the magic of cinema, and that’s why it’s the economic powerhouse it is.

All “screen-grabs” by Will Van Dorp.

Somewhat related:  Come celebrate the launch of film maker Thomas Halaczinsky‘s “Archipelago New York”: June 18th, 6PM at Rizzoli Bookstore at 1133 Broadway Manhattan.

… will be the minigolf pier, the beach volleyball pier, and the historic vessels pier.  And the first of three arrived there today.  Lilac, ex-WLM-227  . . .

launched at Pusey & Jones on May 26, 1933.  Since her steam plant must for now remain idle, Vessel Traffic Service classified her today as a “dead vessel” as she made the almost mile-long transit from pier 40 to pier 25, where

she will soon be open for visitors.  Move today was made by Miller’s Launch, who had two boats on the scene . . .  tug Catherine C and workboat Cecilia.

As she got backed into the site, I noticed

Ed on Lilac and  . . . bowsprite catching lines!!

But she was much too

busy catching lines to

deal with a blogger like me,  who intrinsically would much rather catch lies lines, too, but realizes that if I did, no one

might be taking these fotos.

More from pier 25 soon.  And some day, ot so soon, wouldn’t it be nice to hear Lilac’s engine purr like this . . . .

Kudos to Bowsprite for her tribute to Lilac and benefactor, Gerry Weinstein.  Lilac, an amazing name for a vessel that would today be part of Homeland Security, lies just north of Pier 40.   I cannot, but if you can, come to her 76th birthday party tomorrow evening.


And speaking of Bowsprite some more, she snapped me this foto of my ex- . . . Alice Oldendorff.  But I’m resolute . . . it’s over between me and Alice.  And a tantalizing foto,  . . .I’ve evolved past this and will only say kind things about Alice, but it could not be…   Besides, it looks like she has myriad suitors who, like me, adore the sculpture on its deck hatches.  Alice might just be an art-boat.


This summer will feature many historic craft on the river and in the boro.  Flagship,  I’m told, will be Erie Canal motorship Day Peckinpaugh.  See a better foto and schedule here.  Fred Tug44 has great fotos here.


Besides Onrust, another one of the historic craft is Half Moon.  Foto below was snapped mere hours ago by Jed, just north of Poughkeepsie.  What looks like smoke from a campfire on the far bank is actually my clumsy attempt at eradicating all traces of civilizations, trying to give the illusion of the primeval river system Henry saw 400 years ago minus a few months.  A new book called Mannahatta by Dr. Eric W. Sanderson attempts the same.  Bowsprite and I–as I mention maybe too often here–are attempting the same in our own modest fashion.  Could you help sending the link to henrysobsession around?


Fotos 1 and 3 by Will Van Dorp;  2 by Bowsprite and 4 by Jed.

Kudos to Jim: the port traversed by Berge Everett is … Boston. Read Jim’s comment on the left sidebar.

In response to the first post about Lilac, says Dan . . . “A real steam engine is to a diesel as a pipe organ to an electric organ.” Hmm? Dan might have music technology biases.



The white pressure vessel behind the red ironmongery is the condenser, athwart the keel and just aft the two New York-built Sullivan engines.



Here’s aftmost underside of starboard engine looking outboard. To better see perspective on what this is, check this link. Scroll all the way through.



Dan continues, “[A steamer engine] breathes in the way that the body does, and we feel a deep connection with it, and a connection which I think is not just sentimental.” So that would make these nostrils.



Exhalation happens here through the yellow and black funnel, and unseen it spins its “legs” underneath.



Lilac remains in a coma, but one day, soon, she will rise, raise this arm,



and blink! Live steam! And those of little faith will see; long-suspended breathing will be heard.

Hmm? What about older technology makes it easier to anthropomorphize?

All photos, Will Van Dorp.

I’ll never forget the first time I heard it, an almost imperceptible throbbing in the Congolese night like a slow heartbeat, a drum of some great diameter. At breakfast I learned the sounds meant a steamboat navigating up the Lulonga, tributary of the Congo. A week later when I heard it again, I got up and drove my motorcycle to the river village to see it dock, offload passengers and take on wood for the boilers. Up close the throb and hiss were disproportionate to the speed, the crude technology as surreal along the equatorial riverside as they would be in New York harbor, where–in fact–a steam engine waits to be coaxed back to life aboard Lilac, until 1971 a Coast Guard lighthouse/buoy tender operating on Delaware Bay.



Below is the top of the starboard engine. Notice all the levers.



Blogging about Lilac makes me aware of how little I know about steam engines. Lilac needs volunteers of all skill backgrounds. I took this foto of rods from the lower engine room deck. I need to return here and study this engine more.



Lilac was hull #426 at Pusey & Jones Corp. in Wilmington, Delaware. Fir, last of the class represented by Lilac, exists in the Pacific Northwest. See current story here. I’d love to hear more about Fir from you all up in the Northwest. Unlike Lilac, whose oil-burning triple expansion steam engines remain intact if in need of “overhaul,” Fir was “dieselized” in the 1950s.



Spare props are secured on the foredeck, aka the buoy deck.



Check out the color-coded levers used to control the steam-driven crane for hoisting buoys.



The crew, except the master or officers, slept in these racks in the forecastle below the buoy deck. Imagine their sleep and dreams as punctuated by the throbbing of the twin triple-expansion steam engines.

A story I heard way back when and would love to corroborate is that steam engines taken from vessels dieselized in the US were shipped to rivers like the Congo for a second life.

All photos by or of Will Van Dorp.

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February 2023