U.S. Coast Guard Lightship WLV 605

A forum to discuss Life Saving Stations and Lightships.

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Postby Grover1 » Fri Feb 27, 2009 5:04 am


Ship + Lighthouse = Lightship

Lightships were used as floating lighthouses, anchored in areas where it was too deep, expensive, or simply absurd to place a building. One of these beacons of light resided at the entrance to the San Francisco Bay from 1898 to 1971. In 1951, when the former U.S. Coast Guard Lightship WLV 605 was constructed, it was an emblem of cutting-edge technology. Now the ship is completely obsolete, and is kept afloat as a free museum.

The lightship was designed to allow water to roll over it, allowing it to remain afloat and relatively stationary during turbulent seas while still lighting a path for incoming ships. Even the lightship’s unique “mushroom” anchor was involved ingenuity: positioned at the bow of a ship rather than at its side, it absorbed motion as the weather worsened. Nonetheless, collisions were common: in Nantucket, a lighthouse boat was sliced in two by an oncoming ship that failed to turn in time. The boat’s crew of 12 to 18 people barely remained sane: the watchmen on top shined brass to stay alert and the crew below had to suffer through non-stop Morse code beeps and dramatically loud foghorns. Although lightships are no longer used, they didn’t just die. Now buoys, unmanned and not as spectacular, have replaced them.

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Postby island » Sat Feb 28, 2009 1:38 pm

Now owned and being restored by the U.S. Lighthouse Society the WLV-605 was constructed at Boothbay, Maine by Rice Brothers Shipyard in 1950. Commissioned in February 1951 as OVERFALLS (Delaware), Delaware. In 1960 was reassigned to the BLUNTS (reef) station (Cape Mendocino, CA). Finally, in 1969 she became RELIEF.
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