Hibiscus, 1908 (WAGL-218)

Jan. 31, 2021

Hibiscus, 1908


A chiefly tropical plant, shrub, or tree of the genus Hibiscus, bearing large, variously colored flowers.

Builder: New York Shipbuilding Company, Camden, New Jersey

Length: 190'

Beam: 30'

Draft: 13' 3"

Displacement: 1,081

Cost: $184,642.59

Launched: 9 June 1908

Commissioned: 15 June 1908

Decommissioned: 3 September 1946

Disposition: Sold on 26 June 1947

Machinery:  2 triple-expansion inverted direct-acting steam engines; 2 Scotch-type boilers; coal-fired with 2 propellers; 1,100 SHP

Performance & Endurance:

        Max: 12.0 knots (1908); 13.5 (1945)
        Cruising: 10.0 knots

Range: 2,550 mile range @ 10 knots (1945)

Deck Gear: ?

Complement: 34 (1908); 44 (1945)


     Radar: SO-1 (1945)
     Sonar: Yes, type unknown

Armament: None in 1908.  By 1944: 1 x 3"/50; 3 x 20mm/80; 2 x depth charge projectors

Class History:

The Hibiscus was constructed in 1908 at Camden, N. J., for the Lighthouse Service.  She was one of eight Manzanita-class tenders (originally known as the "8" class for the eight tenders built) constructed for the Lighthouse Service.  They were designed by the Navy Department and incorporated numerous innovations as compared with previous designs.  "They were constructed of steel and completed as coal burners and were the first of their kind ever constructed.  They were built with vertical sides, which provided a flat surface on which buoy pads could be attached.  Also, the vertical flat sides reduced the tendency of a buoy to slide beneath the hull when the tender was maneuvering alongside.  The deck edge on the forecastle was rounded in order to prevent the buoy cage or lantern from catching.  Steel replaced wood for the booms, and wire rope replaced manila.  The boom was somewhat longer than what might be expected to permit a special rigging for the transfer of supplies to lighthouses on inaccessible rocks and cliffs.  Water capacity was significantly increased, with separate tanks for lighthouse replenishment.  These ships had fine lines as opposed to their predecessors, making them faster and more maneuverable.  They heeled sharply, however, when lifting buoys." 

In 1932, all tenders in this class had their coal-fired steam plant replaced with an oil-fired plant and new water tube boilers were added as well.

Tender History:

The Hibiscus was delivered on 15 August 1908 and was assigned to the First Lighthouse District out of Portland, Maine, where she served well into World War II.  She was called upon to break ice in the Kennebec River by 1918, although she was not constructed as an icebreaker.  In 1919 a wireless set was installed and she was converted from coal to oil in 1930.

On 28 May 1942 she was badly burned and beached but was repaired and returned to service on 16 October 1942.  From 1944 through 1945 Hibiscus serviced buoys and antisubmarine nets at Argentia, Newfoundland.

She was decommissioned on 3 September 1946 and was sold as 26 June 1947.


Douglas Peterson.  U.S. Lighthouse Service Tenders, 1840 - 1939.  Annapolis, Maryland: Eastwind Publishing, 2000, pp. 85-86.

Robert Scheina.  U.S. Coast Guard Cutters & Craft of World War II.  Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1982, pp. 140-141.