Onward to Washington: George Warrington at the Bureau of Lighthouses and Lightships, and Yachting on the Potomac

In 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt appointed George as Chief of the Division of Marine Engineering, U. S. Bureau of Lighthouses, Department of Commerce, a post which he held through President William Howard Taft’s administration and into the first half of Woodrow Wilson’s administration.


George Warrington in his office in Washington.

The 11-12 December 1913 Transactions of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers noted the following about one of George Warrington’s designs, in this case a lightship:

U. S. Lightvessel No. 94, Plate 53…(shown below) may be taken as an illustration of the degree to which this type of craft has been developed. It was completed and placed upon station at the Frying Pan Shoal, N. C., in 1911, and still remains the latest and most highly developed addition to the fleet, although new vessels are now under construction which will be equipped throughout with internal combustion main and auxiliary engines.

The vessel was designed under the direction of Mr. George Warrington, Chief of the Division of Marine Engineering, U. S. Bureau of Lighthouses, and possesses the following general dimensions and characteristics:-

Length over all 135 ft. 9 in.
Length on the sixth water line, from the after side of the stem to the forward side of the stern frame 112 ft. 11 in.
Beam, moulded 29 ft. 0 in.
Depth of hold from top of main deck beam to top of keel amidships. 15 ft. 4 in.
Displacement (moulded) at 12 feet 9 inches mean draught in salt water, 660 tons
Signal light fixed white: 68 ft.
Elevation above water
Range of visibility 14 miles
Candle-power 2,900
Fog signal:
Steam chime whistle 12 inches
Blast 5 seconds
Silent 55 seconds
Hand and submarine bell.

Lightship Frying Pan on station off of North Carolina. If you look very carefully at the photo above, you can see this same photo directly above George Warrington’s head.

U.S. Naval Vessels

As a naval architect and yachtsman, George Warrington took an interest in all floating craft, including those of the U.S. Navy. Here are a couple of photographs from his collection, taken before his stint with the Bureau of Lighthouses and Lightships.

Steam Yacht Courier

In his last years in the Washington area, George Warrington still found time–and the means–to pursue yachting in new waters, namely the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay. The Courier was the family’s last steam yacht.

According to the 1922 List of Merchant Vessels of the United States, issued by the Department of Commerce (where George Warrington had worked,) the Courier’s specifications were as follows:

  • Official Number: 127179
  • Call numbers: KNBL
  • Gross tonnage: 65
  • Net tonnage: 44
  • Length: 91.3′
  • Breadth (or more properly beam): 15.8′
  • Depth (or more properly draught): 8.5′
  • Service: Yacht
  • Crew: 9
  • Indicated Horsepower: 250
  • Year and Place Built: 1897, South Boston, MA
  • Home Port: Washington, DC