Our Family's History while building Lightships...

As told by Mary Ramsay Haines


James G. Ramsay was a draftsman with the USLHS District #2, Chelsea Depot, Chelsea, Massachusetts, having transferred from the Navy Department Bureau of Construction and Repair. In the fall of 1929 he was appointed Assistant Superintendent of Construction for the Construction of Lightships Nos. 115, 116 and 117 at the Charleston Drydock and Machine Co., Charleston, SC., and was to serve in that capacity from December 1, 1929 through September 30, 1930.

With an assignment of nearly a year, the family decided that the adventure was far superior to being apart. Our transportation was a 1924 Buick touring car -- the windows were side curtains which snapped in place. Of course it had no heater. It was not the ideal equipment for New England winter travel, but was, for that time, a fairly modern vehicle.

The real handicap was that we left Massachusetts in a snowstorm, and we finally reached clear weather in Raleigh, NC.

The trip down enabled the younger children to see a bit of Washington, DC, where Mr. Ramsay had been employed with the Navy Department, and where James, Jr. was born.

They visited the Smithsonian, and the Congressional Library briefly, before continuing our pilgrimage.

Pictured left to right are, Mr. Ramsay , Dave, Mrs. Ramsay, Mary, Jim Jr., and Bill.  Note: We visited various points briefly several times -- even watched a couple of launchings.

Mrs. Ramsay - Haines notes that this picture of the Frying Pan appears lighter in color that other Lightships do in photos for a good reason. This Lightship was painted YELLOW. On the reverse side of the photo Mrs. Ramsay - Haines added some notes. " Frying Pan Lightship #115 assigned to 6th District Charleston SC. Built in 1930. Powered by 4 Winton Diesel Generators and 375 HP General Electric Motor. Masthead Lanterns 375 mm Dia. with 1000 - watt incandescent lamp each."

Lightship 116 to be stationed at Fenwick Reef off of Delaware

This photo shows one of the Lightships being outfitted at Charleston. Note: How high she is sitting above the water line and the smoke coming from her stack


This is the 117 to be stationed at Nantucket Shoals off of MA



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© 2009 USCG Lightship Sailors Association International Inc. Larry Ryan, President



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