1891-1900

Location & historical notes: Michigan, on the northern end of Lake Michigan in the western approaches to the Straights of Mackinac.  The lightship was moored off the south side of Simmons Reef, 9.25 miles and 325 degrees from the Waugoshance Light's abandoned tower.

Lightships assigned:

1891-1900: LV-55 (The only lightship to occupy this station.)

YEAR BUILT: 1891

BUILT AT: Toledo (OH)

BUILDER: Blythe Craig Shipbuilding Co

APPROPRIATION: $60,000
(Approp for 3 ships - Simmons Reef White Shoal, and Grays Reef)

CONTRACT PRICE: $14,225 ($42, 675 for 3 shins)

SISTER VESSELS: LV 56,57

DESIGN: Wood framed & planked; white oak fastened with 5/8" square iron spikes;
2 masts, daymark on foremast; spencer mast aft of main for riding sail; stack on
deckhouse amidships

LENGTH: 102'8" (loa); BEAN: 20'; DRAFT: 8'9"; TONNAGE: 129 gross

PROPULSION: Steam screw-one single cylinder, non-condensing engine, 14" bore x 16" stroke, 100 IHF; fire-tube boiler 5'dia x 9'lg 100 psi; max speed 8 knots

ILLUMINATING APPARATUS: Cluster of 3 oil burning lens lanterns hoisted to each masthead

FOG SIGNAL: 6" steam whistle, hand operated bell

CONSTRUCTION NOTES - MODIFICATIONS - EQUIPMENT CHANGES & IMPROVEMENTS: LV 55

-One of three vessels- designed for use only during the navigation season on the Great Lakes, as an experiment to avoid the high initial and recurring costs for a permanent lighthouse. Maintenance and operating cost for each lightship was estimated at $4,000 per year. Each had enough power for getting to and from station. Mooring, consisting of a 5 ton sinker and 15 fathoms of 2 inch chain was pre-positioned permanently and buoyed, eliminating the need (and cost) for the lightship to carry mushrooms and chain.
-Upon delivery, many construction defects were found during sea trials, and many interior modifications had to be made for comfort of the crew
-This and 2 sister vessels were first US lightships to be self-propelled by machinery
-1891: Masts were found unnecessarily long; shortened during winter layup
-1893: Fog bell added
-1906: Equipped with submarine bell signal

STATION ASSIGNMENTS: LV 55
1891-1900: Simmons Reef (MI)
1901-1920: Lansing Shoal (MI)
(Simmons Reef station discontinued Dec 10, 1900 at close of navigation season)
(Lansing Shoal station established Jul 10, 1901)

HISTORICAL NOTES: LV 55
-1891: Sep 14/15, turned over to Lighthouse Establishment at Detroit M1)
- 1891: Oct 2,5,6, sea trials conducted, many defects noted
-1891: Oct 19, Departed Detroit, reaching Port Huron in evening
-1891: Oct 20, LV 55,56 & 57 using their own power to assist were taken in tow by tender DAHLIA, making 9 knots; laid over at Sand Beach Harbor of Refuge due to bad weather
-1891: Oct 24, placed on Simmons Reef (MI), northerly end of Lake Michigan
-1891: Nov 17-20, left station without orders and put into Cheboygan (MI); crew discharged for dereliction of duty and replaced with others "more trustworthy"; replaced by tender DAHLIA Nov 22, remaining on station until close of navigation at which time went into winter Quarters at Cheboygan. Many deficiencies due to missing, incomplete, etc., or faulty equipment were corrected during winter and masts were shortened
-1892: Apr 14, picked up mooring and resumed station
-1892-1900: Wintered at Cheboygan (MI), being withdrawn Dec thru Mar then resuming station in early April each year. Needed repairs were made while in winter quarters


More notes: LV 55
-1896: Fog signal characteristic changed to give 5 sec blasts followed by 55 sec silent intervals
-1898: Boiler repairs and smokestack replaced
-1900: Dec 10, withdrawn from Simmons Reef; station discontinued
-1901: Jul 10, transferred to Lansing Shoal (MI) by joint resolution of Congress
-1901-1907, Wintered at Cheboygan (MI), (Sturgeon Bay WI in 1906) during the period, being on station from Mar/Apr through Nov/Dec each year
-1901: Extensive rot discovered in frames and planking; all unsound timbers and planking replaced, hull recaulked and painted; one mast replaced
-Remained assigned to Lansing Shoal until 1920 Sep 15, then laid up

RETIRED FROM LIGHTSHIP DUTY: 1920; AGE: 29

SUBSEQUENT DISPOSITION: Sold Feb 15, 1922 - $840

COMMANDING OFFICERS: LV 55

1893-1902: Michael Mclntire, Master
?-1913: Alfred Hanson, Nate
1913-1914: Andrew Gallagher, Mate
1915-1916: Olaf K Andersen, Mate
1916-1917: John W Barrand, Mate
1917-1918: Edward A Hansen Mate
1918: Hugh H Boyle, Mate
1919: Elias Garrett, Mate
1919-1920: Elias Garrett, Master
1919-1920: Daniel P McCauley, Nate

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