An era in America’s maritime history came to an end in 1970 when the Delaware Lightship LV 116, WAL 538 was replaced by a Lighted Navigational Buoy (LNB.)
The Lightship LV 116 served as the Delaware Lightship from 1966 to 1970 when she was replaced by the 104-ton buoy that was put in place by the crew of a Coast Guard Buoy Tender.
Crew members of lightships during both the Lighthouse Service and Coast Guard eras were considered the most dangerous job in both services. Lightships were originally stationed in areas where it was too expensive or impractical to build a lighthouse and before modern technology allowed them to be effectively replaced.
Regardless of the weather conditions, lightships were not allowed to leave their stations and were always required to remain on post sounding their fog horn or displaying their beacon to warn mariners of a dangerous location.
Shortly after the LNB was put into place, the Delaware Lightship LV 116 WAL 538 was decommissioned and transferred to the National Park Service to be used as an environmental education classroom, until she was handed over to the City of Baltimore, Maryland in 1982.
The LV 116 then became part of the collection of the Baltimore Maritime Museum’s collection and was renamed the Chesapeake Lightship, a name which she had served as at a previous location. The vessel is now on display in Baltimore as a floating museum.
Because of their historical significance we believe that it is important, if not vital, to share these photos and save them for future generations as part of our lighthouse history. We need to always be sure that we honor the memory of the people who served on these lightships, as well as on the buoy tenders.
This story appeared in the
May/Jun 2015 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.
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