How to park a lightship

In the misty rain of an early Sydney morning the museum’s fleet section moved CLS4 – aka Carpentaria lightship – from the main museum wharves back to its normal berth at Wharf 7.  Nudged along by our tug Bareki and towed by the Arvor workboat the operation was seamlessly completed before most people arrived at work. All in a day’s work for fleet!

Carpentaria lightship is carefully moored at Wharf 7

Commonwealth Lightship No. 4, also known as CLS4 or Carpentaria is a riveted, steel hulled, unpowered and unattended vessel fitted with a light and bell to act as a light vessel or light ship. It was built in 1917/18 at Cockatoo Island Dockyard, Sydney – one of four sister ships designed by D & C Stevenson of Edinburgh, Scotland for the Commonwealth Department of Transport in 1915.  CLS4 spent most of its service life on Merkara Shoal in the Arafura Sea at the top of the Gulf of Carpentaria with the name Carpentaria emblazoned in large black letters along both sides of its red hull. It was last stationed in the Bass Strait oilfields just north of Wilson’s Promontory serving as a Traffic Separator until it was retired from service in 1985, and transferred to the Australian National Maritime Museum the following year.  CLS2 is displayed at the Queensland Maritime Museum in Brisbane.

– Lindsey Shaw, Senior Curator

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