LV 116 was constructed in South Carolina by Charleston
Machine and Drydock Company. A state-of-the-art vessel,
the all-steel diesel ship displayed 13,000 candlepower
electric lamps on each mast, a radio beacon, fog bell
(late replaced by a diaphone fog signal),
and two 5000-lb mushroom anchors. The ship had a top
speed of 10 knots, and could accommodate 16 crewmen.
LV 116 served at the Fenwick Island Shoal station in Delaware
from 1930-1933. The ship was transferred to mark the mouth
of the Chesapeake Bay in 1933, and served that station
until 1965. The only break in that service was during
World War II, when a buoy marked the station. LV 116 was
painted battleship gray, fitted with two 20mm cannons,
and patrolled the entrance to the Cape Cod Canal.
Under the Coast Guard, the ship was re-designated WAL 538.
A lightship must remain on station regardless of the
weather conditions. LV 116 rode out hurricanes on multiple
occasions. In each case, the storm tore the ship from its
moorings, and the vessel would then run into the wind
in order to stay on station.
In 1965 the Chesapeake lightship station was replaced by a
"Texas Tower" - a platform similar to an
oil rig. LV 116 was transferred to the mouth of the
Delaware Bay until being replaced by an automated buoy in 1970.
LV 116 was decomissioned in 1971, and given to the National
Park Service. The ship was put on display at Haines Point in
Washington DC. In 1982, the ship was moved to Pier 3 of Baltimore's
Inner Harbor. The ship was made a National Historic
Landmark in 1989. Today, she is on display as part of the Baltimore
Bay Beacons, Turbyville pp. 99-100
Lighting the Bay: Tales of Chesapeake Lighthouses, Vojtech p. 180
Mid-Atlantic Lighthouses, Roberts and Jones p. 62
Flyer, Baltimore Maritime Museum
The Keeper's Log Summer 2005