Digest>Archives> January 2000

Bump in the Night Brings End to Ambrose Tower

New Tower Replaces It


You can see an enlarged version of this picture by clicking here.
>> Click to enlarge <<
The original Ambrose Lighthouse before it was ...

New Jersey's Ambrose Lighthouse located in the ocean about 71/2 miles east of Sandy Hook has finally succumbed from injuries suffered in when a tanker hit the lighthouse in 1996.

You can see an enlarged version of this picture by clicking here.
>> Click to enlarge <<
The new Ambrose Light Tower is near completion in ...

However, the lighthouse has been replaced by a new navigational beacon that is used to guide oceangoing ships into the Port of New York and New Jersey.

You can see an enlarged version of this picture by clicking here.
>> Click to enlarge <<

The original 12 story tall Ambrose Tower was built at a cost of $2.4 million in 1967 to replace a lighthship that had been stationed at the site. The station was manned by six to nine Coast Guardsmen until March of 1988.

In October 1996 the inbound 754-foot tanker Aegeo carrying 430,000 barrels of crude oil struck the tower. The accident was described as "bizarre" at the time, since it is a very prominent landmark.

Prior to the ship hitting the lighthouse, there had been numerous malfunctions with the light in the tower not working. One shipping expert who remained unidentified at the time was quoted as saying, "the beacon was not on at the time, nor was the station equipped with a warning signal designed to alert ships radar. It was an accident waiting to happen."

However crew members aboard a pilot ship in the harbor who observed the ship in the distance were surprised to see it pass what they thought was "so close to the tower" and because of their distance away didn't realize the ship had hit the lighthouse.

According to a later investigation the captain of the ship was at fault, having misjudged the distance between his ship, the tower and a southbound vessel. It seems the crew had observed the Ambrose Light Tower visually and on radar 15 to 20 miles out. But as the tanker neared port the captain noticed a container ship on radar and altered the Aegeo's course as the other ship steamed six miles away. By changing his course at the time and apparently forgetting about the Ambrose Light Tower, he struck it, literally shearing away part of one of the four 42 inch-diameter pipe that support the tower. Those pipes were originally driven into bedrock approximately 245 feel below the water to support the gigantic tower platform, living quarters and light tower. What was amazing is the that the tower did not collapse and continued to stand.

It was later decided that the tower could not be repaired and needed to be replaced.

The new Ambrose Tower is equipped with a 60,000 candle powered solar light that is visible 18 nautical miles.

United States Coast Guard photographs courtesy of Lt. Scott Washburn, CEU, Providence.

This story appeared in the January 2000 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

All contents copyright © 1995-2024 by Lighthouse Digest®, Inc. No story, photograph, or any other item on this website may be reprinted or reproduced without the express permission of Lighthouse Digest. For contact information, click here.

to Lighthouse Digest

USLHS Marker Fund

Lighthouse History
Research Institute

Shop Online

Subscribe   Contact Us   About Us   Copyright Foghorn Publishing, 1994- 2024   Lighthouse Facts     Lighthouse History