Umatilla Lightship, Pennock Island


Umatilla Lightship, Pennock Island

by | Jul 16, 2018

WLV-196 Umatilla was the last lightship to mark Umatilla Reef off Washington state and in 2005 was moored off Pennock Island in Southeast Alaska, about 0.75 miles (1.2 km) southwest of Ketchikan, Alaska. Lightships were historically used where lighthouse construction was not possible, although the type has become largely obsolete and replaced by automated buoys.

Umatilla Reef is off the coast of Cape Alava in Washington where several sea stacks and islets are located, with Umatilla Reef being the westernmost of these navigational hazards. The reef is named for the steamer Umatilla that ran aground here in high seas and blinding snow in February 1884. Fourteen years after the Umatilla grounded, the first Lightship WLV-67 Umatilla was anchored near the reef to prevent other vessels from experiencing the same fate.

WLV-196 Umatilla was built by Devoe Shipbuilding at Bay City, Michigan, in 1946. The new ship sailed through the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway and served off the coast of Massachusetts. In 1961, the lightship was refurbished at Curtis Bay, Maryland, and then sent through the Panama Canal to the west coast. From 1961 to 1971 it served the lightship station at Umatilla Reef, off the coast of Washington. It was decommissioned on September 30, 1971, and purchased by Southeast Stevedoring for use as a remote longshore camp for crews loading log ships. Read more about the lightship here and here. Explore more of Pennock Island here:

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