The Lightship at Liberty Yacht Club…
The Lightship LV 107/WAL 529 was built in Bath Iron Works of Bath, ME in 1923, and its first station was Cape Lookout Shoals, NC where it served from 1924 to 1933, when the station was discontinued and replaced with the Cape Lookout Bell Buoy.
The Lightship’s next assignment was at Winter Quarter Shoal, VA, located several miles offshore from Assateague Island. The station’s interesting name was derived from a location on Assateague Island called “Winter Quarters” The Lightship served to mark the northern approach to Chesapeake Bay in addition to obviously warning mariners of the shoal.
A hurricane struck the station on September 17 and 18 of 1936. The powerful storm drug the vessel and its bulbous mushroom anchor off station, stove in a section on the ship’s starboard side, broke loose generators and storage batteries from their mountings, and demolished the vessel’s motor boat. Still, the lightship was able to regain its station and resume service on September 19.
The story is told of how one lightship while riding out a hurricane at Winter Quarter in large and deep seas actually tossed a loop in its anchor chain and passed through the loop forming an overhand knot. The lightship was then unable to weigh anchor and had to slop the anchor chain – at least this is the story that the commanding office told for how an overhand knot ended up in the anchor chain.
Starting in 1942, LV 107 was pulled from its station and used as an examination vessel during the remainder of World War II. The lightship returned to Winter Quarter Shoal following the war and remained there through 1960 when it was replaced by a lighted bell buoy.
LV 107’s next station was at the newly created Delaware station, southeast of the entrance to Delaware Bay and seventeen miles from the Fenwick Island Lighthouse. The Lightship served at this station for five years, before being assigned as a relief lightship out of Cape May in 1965. Gary Day was Commanding Officer of the lightship from 1967 until her decommissioning in 1968. During his eighteen months at the helm, the vessel served as relief at the Ambrose, Barnegat, Five Fathom, and Delaware stations. According to Day, “Delaware was the worst, flies would eat you alive in summer. At chow time we covered all the food with clean rags and sprayed BUG-A_BYE in the air vents to get rid of them. During the calm weather we rolled a lot because the current from the Delaware River would hold us broadside to the swells. Finally, we figured out how to moor by securing a mooring line to the anchor chain by use of a pelican hook. We could then secure the mooring line to a bit amidships and we would stem the swells. It made for a much more comfortable ride”.
After the lightship was decommissioned, Commander Day spotted her at Newport News. He recalls, “Someone had painted a white and blue stripd around the hull at deck level. People there did not like it when I told them they should not have done it, but it may have been the way I put it to them.” LV 107 has her proper colors back now, and is a good place to eat a burger admiring the Manhattan Skyline.
Lightships were typically painted red with their station’s name emblazoned in large, white block letters on both of her sides. LV 107/WAL 529 still complies with this standard. Its current markings “Liberty Landing Marina” do accurately describe its latest location, though the marina was obviously never an official lightship station.
After the LV 107 was decommissioned in 1968, it was relocated to Hampton, VA to be used as a museum. This venture must not have lasted too long, as by 1984 the lightship was at North American Metals ship-breakers yard in Bordentown, NJ. Fortunately, the Lightship was rescued by its present owners and relocated to Liberty Landing Marina, where it first operated as a Bar & Grill and then the marina’s offices. It also provides deck space for Liberty Yacht Club’s social activities and interior space for educational events.
Builder: Bath Iron Works, Bath, ME (1923)
Displacement: 775 Tons
Illumination apparatus: 375mm electric lens lantern at each masthead
Propulsion: Steam – compound reciprocating engine, 400 IHP; 20 oil fired Scotch marine boilers 120psi; 4 bladed propeller; maximum speed 9 knots
Fog Signal: 12” steam chime whistle, submarine bell, hand operated bell
1924 – 1933: Cape Lookout Shoals (NC)
1934-1942: Winter Quarter Shoal (VA)
1942-1945: Examination Vessel, WWII
1945-1960: Winter Quarter Shoal (VA)
1960-1965: Delaware (DE)
1965-1968: Relief Third District (Based at Cape May, NJ)
- Coast Guard Lightship index website
- U.S. Coast Guard Lightship Sailors Association website