Temporary Lightships of World War I

The following information has been provided by Chris Bennett. This is an excellent example of what CAN be done with some time donated to the Lightship Sailor's Association. Because of Chris's work the LSA site is now the ONLY website to show ALL this information in one place.

With its responsibility for the safe return of troops from Europe after the end of World War I, and in view of the danger from enemy mines existing off the east coast of the U.S., the U.S. Navy conducted minesweeping to provide a safe channel into the principal ports of debarkation. The centerlines of these one mile wide swept channels were marked by temporary lightship stations maintained by the Navy, offshore from Boston, New York, Delaware Bay, Chesapeake Bay and Charleston and extended from existing approach aids maintained by the U.S. Lighthouse Service to more than 30 miles offshore to facilitate a safe landfall for troop carriers following great circle tracks from French and Mediterranean ports. The seven temporary Navy lightships were Lapwing Class minesweepers, and were equipped with illumination, fog signal, and submarine bell signal apparatus provided by the Lighthouse Service. These lightships were place on station commencing in December, 1918 and were withdrawn during the summer of 1919.

All of the vessels were converted to lightship use with equipment supplied by the United States Lighthouse Service.

Canvas covered crows nests on each mast served as daymarks.

A Crosby automatic signal control was fitted to the vessels' normal sound signal which then served as the fog signal. A controller was also provided to produce the specified light characteristic.

All vessels were moored with a 5,000 pound mushroom, using 2 1/4 inch wire rope from the towing winch aft, led through a turning block and thence forward along the ports side passageway to the hawsepipe.

Boston Approach, USS Easthampton ( Navy tug )

January - May 1919

USS EASTHAMPTON (No. 573), Former commercial ocean going tug

Built 1913 - 162'9" loa - purchased by USN 1917 and converted for towing and minesweeping

Equipped with a cluster of three 80cp electric lens lanterns at 41 feet, steam whistle, and submarine bell signal

Painted gray, no distinguishing marks.

Stationed 16.4 mi - 077 degrees from Boston Lightship Decommissioned 1919, sold to private interests 1920

New York Approach, USS Finch

Dec.23 , 1918 - July 19 , 1919

New York Approach # 2, USS Cardinal

Dec 23, 1918 - July 10 , 1919

Delaware Approach, USS Falcon

Dec 30 , 1918 - May 25 , 1919

Chesapeake Bay Approach, USS Brant

Dec 1918 - May 25 , 1919

Chesapeake Bay Approach #2, ¸USS Owl

Dec 1918 - July 10 , 1919

Charleston Approach, ¨USS Long Island ( Navy tug )

Dec 1918 - May 25 1919

USS LONG ISLAND, Former offshore trawler built 1912 - 164'4" boa x 24'1" x 6'9"

Purchased by USN 1917 and converted for towing and minesweeping.

Equipped with a cluster of three 80cp electric lens lanterns at 50 feet, and steam whistle painted gray.

Stationed 33.5 mi - 088 degrees from Charleston Lightship

Decommissioned and sold 1919

"All things Lightship"                    "History Page"

"Menu Page"  


© 2008 USCG Lightship Sailors Association International Inc. Larry Ryan, President


~Locations of visitors to this page