LV 76, The Maudi Morgan
The following narrative describing the LV-76's post-Coast Guard career was written by Rick Bennett and was donated to the Coast Guard Historian's Office by Mr. Bennett and the USCG Lightship Sailors' Association in memory of Jim Gill, USCG (Ret.), the former President of the association.
"I am writing this letter to inform all concerned that the former U. S. Coast Guard Lightship 76, WAL 504 has been located and is currently in Vancouver, B. C. and is owned by Mr. Kent Staudinger of Vancouver. This ship was the subject of a many year search by Mr. Jim Gill, USCG (Retired), now deceased. On the day of Jim?s death, I received a message via email that simply stated, 'here is what I have so far on the search for this ship.' Several hours later our friend and marine researcher was gone. He had passed this to me. So it was now my job to run with it.
A check of Willard Flints book shows that the ship was renamed the Claire Anne, used for fishing in the 70?s, and ended up in Vancouver to be a museum. Communications with people in Vancouver state that this ship was never a Museum. At some point in her life she was named the Belle Blonde, then the Claire Anne. Today she is under repair, but has been used as a fishing vessel. Having received a letter of the history for this ship that covers the years she was missing to us, page two will fill in the history of this ship for historical records.
Somewhere towards the middle of March or the beginning of April 2003 I received files and messages from Jim Gill?s computer that pertained to business of Lightship Sailors and also Jims searching for the Claire Anne. One such message was from Susan Buss, at the Maritime Museum Library in Vancouver, B. C. and that message was the official notification to Jim that the ship he had searched for was in fact afloat and still in use with a name change to the Maudi Morgan. This message was dated February 27, 2003, a mere 17 days after his passing. Jim my friend, you did it!
The list of researchers for this ship are to the best of my knowledge hereby submitted in random order:
James B. Gill, Maritime researcher and President of USCG Lightship Sailors Assn Inc.
Richard A. Bennett Former Secretary, USCG Lightship Sailors Assn Inc.
Lori Alexander, Executive Assistant, Fraser Port Authority, New Westminster, B.C.
Susan Buss, Librarian, Vancouver Maritime Museum, Vancouver, B. C.
Cynthia Hinton, Hinton Income Tax Service, Distinguished member and descendant of a Lightship Sailor.
Nicola Scudder, Reference Librarian, Social Services Division, Vancouver Public Library.
Released September 28, 2003 to Scott Price Historian, Washington, DC.
Lightship LV76 / WAL504 was built in 1904. At that time there were only two stations for Lightships, Colombia River and Umatilla. The station Blunts Reef was established in 1905 and may have been due to LV76 being in operation at that time. Swiftsure Bank was in operation by 1909, and LV76 most likely relieved these four stations as the other ships became due for dry docking or repairs.
During World War Two (1939-45) she was stationed in Alameda California and used as a training vessel. There is an indication from charts and records found onboard that she proceeded to Japan taking up station there to guide shipping in those uncertain times. On September 16th 1960 relief Lightship 76 was decommissioned in San Francisco. Later sold to Mr. A. Jensen October 9th, 1961 and was renamed 'ARK'. Main engine was changed to diesel in 1963 and the vessel was operating as a freighter called Ark in 1964.
Somewhere, possibly between 1964 and 1965 this vessel was purchased by the Belche Family of Seattle, Washington and renamed 'CLAIRE ANNE'. The vessel was brought to Seattle and operated in Puget Sound. On July 12th 1978 the 'Claire Anne' was removed from U. S. Registry in Seattle, transferred in ownership and location from a trade-in sale, to Rivtow Straights Ltd. of Vancouver, B. C. Canada via their Ship Brokerage Division (West Coast Salvage & Contracting Ltd.) and moved to the Fraser River North Arm berthage where she lay by until October, 1980 in freshwater. During this time undrained fresh water in the cooling systems of the ship extensively damaged the main engine, generator, prime mover, and compressor with prime mover.
On October 22nd, 1980 in generally dilapidated condition she was purchased by Victor Kent Staudinger, Michael J. Wilson, and William T. Bonniman. In time, Mr. Staudinger was to become accepted as the manager of the vessel, as he lived aboard and was fully knowledgeable of the ships operation. The vessel was towed to many locations during the following few years, finally returning on January 6th, 1985 to the area where she was purchased in the North Arm of Fraser River.
Over the next several months, much restoration work was completed as well as general maintenance. The generator, diesel engine and compressor were all rebuilt. The auxiliaries were repaired with the assistance of Messrs. Hatch & Kirk Export Co. Inc. of Seattle, Washington with the location and supply of discontinued spare parts. The Claire Anne was accepted at the Canadian Registry as a barge on November 28th 1985. The official notice made to the maritime community was done at the Banquet held by U. S. Coast Guard Lightship Sailors Assn. In Lewes, Delaware October 6, 2003 where I had the opportunity to tell the members that my friend Mr. James B. Gill had done what he set out to do, find the Maudi Morgan. Life takes incredible turns and twists, and sometimes strange things happen, such as this: Jim Gill passed this search on to me, and crossed the bar the same day.
Information is gathered from Jim's computer, including messages Jim had received. One of those messages delivered to his computer on February 27, 2003 stated, "he had indeed found the Maudi Morgan."
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© 2008 USCG Lightship Sailors Association International Inc. Larry Ryan, President