Digest>Archives> Mar/Apr 2019

From The Lighthouse Service Bulletin

By Jack Graham


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Light Vessel 109 in 1923. (USLHS photo, ...

This column continues to provide excerpts from the “Lighthouse Service Bulletin,” a monthly publication of the Bureau of Lighthouses, U.S. Department of Commerce. The first was issued in January 1912, and it continued throughout the existence of the Bureau. Unedited quotes from Vol. II, No. 69, dated September 1923, follow. The Bulletin had as it object “supplying information that will be immediately useful in maintaining or improving the standards of the Lighthouse Service, and of keeping the personnel advised of the progress of work and matters of general interest in the service and in lighthouse work in general.”

Respect To the Memory Of President Harding – Out of respect to the memory of President Harding, whose death occurred on August 2, all flags flown from buildings or vessels of the Lighthouse Service were ordered to be kept at half-mast until September 3. The offices of the bureau in Washington and in the districts were closed on dates appropriate in each locality. Nearly two years ago, when the district superintendents were meeting in Washington, they and the other officers of the Lighthouse Service were received by President Harding, with an appropriate and kindly word for each, and an expression of interest in this work.

School Facilities In First Lighthouse District – The authorities of the state of Maine have given valuable assistance during the past year in the matter of providing educational facilities for the children of lighthouse keepers. The “boarding system” has been carried out extensively and the results are gratifying. By this system, the parents of the children find a suitable boarding place ashore near the school which they will attend, they paying whatever board is required for the children and in return receiving from the state amounts from $2 to $3 per week for each child. At present, 18 keepers at 13 different stations, with a total of 34 children, are taking advantage of this plan. At a few stations where there are sufficient children a teacher is provided by the state, the Lighthouse Service providing a schoolroom and paying the subsistence of the teacher while at the station. In a letter to the governor of Maine, the Secretary of Commerce has expressed the appreciation of the department for the effective cooperation of the State.

Better Protection For Nantucket Shoals – The Secretary of Commerce announces that on August 24, 1923, the Lighthouse Service placed a new light vessel on Nantucket Shoals. This is probably the most important lightship station in the world, as it is a mark steered for by nearly all trans-Atlantic vessels; it is also one of the most exposed stations, as the vessel is anchored 41 miles from land, in the open Atlantic south of the great area of shoals which it guards. The new vessel was specifically designed and equipped for this station, one of the most severe duties to which a ship can be subjected. It will have for the first time a radio fog signal, an automatic apparatus sending during fog a group of 4 dashes every 30 seconds, enabling vessels with radio direction finders to obtain an accurate bearing from a distance of 30 miles or more in any weather conditions, and to steer for and “make” the lightship, most important for the safety of shipping approaching the American coast. The light vessel will also have two other fog signals, a powerful steam whistle, and a submarine bell; a little later a submarine oscillator, a more powerful electrically operated signal, will be substituted for the bell. The electric signal light of 3,000 candlepower will show at the masthead 4 occulations a minute.

The Radio Direction Finder At Sea – (Translated from Radioelectricite, July 1923)

Particularly interesting trials of the radio direction finder have just been made on board the hospital ship Sainte-Jeanne-d’Arc, whose continuous services are keenly appreciated by our mariners. In order to establish the accuracy of bearings taken by the aid of the radio direction finder on shipboard, numerous and careful measurements were made during the recent voyage of this boat from France to Newfoundland. The signals from Ouessant were heard 1,000 miles from the station, and those from Land’s End 700 miles away. It was found that the course set by means of radio bearings coincided exactly with the course set by astronomical calculations.

Light Vessel No. 109 - Light vessel No. 109, one of the five new vessels built at Bath, Me., was successfully launched by the Bath Iron Works on the afternoon of August 16, 1923. The sponsor who christened the light vessel was Miss Elizabeth Davies of Portland, Me. The vessel is to be assigned to the sixth lighthouse district in Charleston, S.C., as a relief vessel. It is a light vessel of the second class having a length overall of 132 feet 4 inches; beam molded 30 feet, displacement 775 tons on a draft of 14 feet 4 inches salt water; propelled by steam, using oil as fuel.

Saving of Life and Property – The lighthouse tender Hibiscus, J. W. Sterling commanding, on August 7, steamed to Penobscot Bay in a dense fog and towed the disabled passenger steamer Vinalhaven, with passengers, mail, and valuable cargo aboard, to dock in Rockland.

That’s another sampling “From the Bulletin.” Watch this space in each issue of Lighthouse Digest for more.

This story appeared in the Mar/Apr 2019 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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