Kukui, 1908 (WAGL-225)

Feb. 5, 2021

Kukui, 1908


A nut-bearing tree, Aleurites moluccana, native to Hawaii, Polynesia and South Seas Islands, Malaysia, the Malay Peninsula, and the Philippines.  It is the state tree of Hawaii. 

Builder: New York Shipbuilding Company, Camden, New Jersey

Length: 190'

Beam: 30'

Draft: 13' 3"

Displacement: 1,081

Cost: $213,879.99

Launched: 25 April 1908

Commissioned: 1 August 1908

Decommissioned: 1 February 1908

Disposition: Sold 8 April 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: None
     Sonar: WEA-2 

Armament: None in 1908.  By 1944: 5 x 20mm/80; 2 depth charge tracks

Class History:

The Kukui 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 Kukui served in the Twelfth, Sixteenth, and the Nineteenth Light House Districts prior to the U.S. entrance into the First World War.  During World War I, Kukui was acquired for the Navy from the Lighthouse Service by an Executive Order of 11 April 1917.  She operated out of Pearl Harbor in the 14th Naval District for the entire period she was under naval jurisdiction.  Kukui was returned to the Lighthouse Service under an Executive Order of 1 July 1919.  Sometime during that same year a wireless set was installed and she was converted from coal to oil in 1930.

She continued to serve out of the Nineteenth Light House District for the rest of her career, conducting aids to navigation duties throughout the Hawaiian Islands.  She became the first tender to receive wireless equipment.  She was decommissioned on 1 February 1946 and was sold on 8 April 1947.

A photo of the tender Kukui

"Lighthouse Tender Kukui. Feb. 13, 1924. Marine Railway, Pearl Harbor, T.H."; 
Photo No. 551; photographer unknown.

A photo of the tender Kukui

No caption/date/photo number; photographer unknown.

A photo of the tender Kukui

No caption/date/photo number; photographer unknown.

A photo of the tender Kukui

MAUI, T.H. From KAUIKI HEAD LIGHTSTATION 200 Yds. S.E."; August, 1920; 
no photo number; photo by Tai Sing Loo, Navy Photographer.


Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, Vol. III, p. 678.

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

Robert Scheina, U.S. Coast Guard Cutters & Craft of World War II (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1981), pp. 140-141.