Nantucket Lightship LV-112
December 2011

In this issue
Welcome Message
Drydocking Milestone
Lightship History
Help Wanted




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Welcome to the USLM Newsletter

Season's greetings from
Nantucket Lightship/LV-112
This is the first edition of our newsletter, to be issued six times a year. We will provide progress reports on LV-112's restoration and other news about lightships. Since LV-112's return last year to her homeport of Boston, she has hosted visits from schoolchildren, dignitaries and individuals from around the country, all fascinated by the ship's historic service to our nation since 1936. We also are building our mailing lists. If you know anyone who would enjoy receiving our newsletter, please contact us via emailWe look forward to hearing from you!

Drydocking Milestone

On December 1, LV-112 was hauled out at the Fitzgerald Shipyard, Chelsea, MA. This is the first drydocking since 1991.

Since its return to Boston, Nantucket Lightship/LV-112 has reached its first restoration milestone. She is now in drydock in Chelsea, MA. This is a very much overdue task; the last drydocking was in 1991. Work is now underway to clean and sandblast the bottom, paint the bottom and topsides, and renew the name "Nantucket." Sixty galvanic zinc plates will be fastened to the hull to protect against electrolysis. 


The 75-year-old hull was inspected for structural integrity by marine surveyor Capt. Charles Deroko, of Brooklyn, NY. He stated LV-112's hull is in better condition than many ships he has surveyed of the same age, despite being battered by severe weather on Nantucket Shoals Station for 39 years and not being drydocked for 20 years. The ship is sound and seaworthy enough to be made operational again. As anticipated, several areas of the hull need repair work including spot clad welding of plating, rivets and two fairly small areas that need doubler plates. He added that LV-112's heavy-duty construction and quality U.S. steel plating were major factors in her survival.


Support for the current work, in excess of $120,000, has come from Cameron International Corporation (Houston, TX), The Lenfest Foundation (West Conshohocken, PA), National Trust for Historic Preservation, New England Lighthouse Lovers (NELL), West Marine, U.S. Coast Guard Lightship Sailors Association, the Town of Oyster Bay (Long Island, NY), USLM members and other individual donors. Other key donations: paint coatings from Sherwin-Williams Company/Marine Coatings Division; towing in Boston Harbor provided by Foss Maritime; marina dockage courtesy of Boston Harbor Shipyard & Marina. Our sincere thanks to all these generous contributors.


Following hull repairs (about 4 weeks), the ship will return to its berth in East Boston, where the decks, deckhouses and masts will undergo scaling, priming and painting. Our goal is to complete this restoration phase by spring 2012, but we first must raise an additional $70,000 to meet costs. All these undertakings mark the beginning of a long list of restoration tasks, totaling an estimated $850,000.

Nantucket Lightships: 140-year History
History of Lightships
Nantucket Lightship/LV-66 (1896-1907), was the first ship ever to send and receive a radio message at sea.
Nantucket Shoals Station was the most distant and exposed lightship station in the world. Its location changed several times to best mark the treacherous shoals off New England, almost 100 miles southeast of Cape Cod. This floating lighthouse also was the turning point on the transatlantic sea lane for ships bound to and from Europe and the U.S. and was the first glimpse of America seen by immigrants arriving at their new homeland. 


Twelve vessels occupied Nantucket Station during its 140-year service from 1854 to 1983. More than half of this period was served by just two ships: LV-1 (1854-92) and LV-112 (1936-75). All, however, contributed to the chronicles of Nantucket Station and maritime history in general. This includes the first-ever radio message from a ship: LV-66 (1901); the first radio distress signal from a U.S. vessel and the second in the world: LV-58 (1905); development of the marine audio oscillator leading to the fathometer and ultimately sonar: LV-106 (1920s); and the largest and best-known lightship ever built: our ship, LV-112. The first two lightships, LV-1 and LV-11, were wooden sailing vessels; the remaining 10 serving on Nantucket Station were iron and steel ships, powered first by steam and later by diesel engines. 

With the mission to remain on station at all times in all weather, the Nantucket Lightship, as with all lightships, was especially vulnerable to hurricanes and winter storms. On 33 occasions, the anchor chain parted and the vessel was blown off station. In 1878, LV-1 was driven 650 miles to Bermuda. Two Nantucket Lightships were lost in storms: LV-11, stranded on Montauk Point in 1855, and LV-5, sunk in a 1905 storm.


The earliest lightships had only oil lanterns and hand-operated bell fog signals for navigational aids. As technology developed, the ships became equipped with high-intensity electric lights visible up to 23 miles, powerful automatic steam and air foghorns, radio beacons, and underwater sound-ranging transmitters. However, radar, LORAN, GPS, deepwater light towers and buoy technology reduced the need for lightships. In 1983, LV-613, the last Nantucket Lightship and the last of all U.S. lightships, was replaced by a large navigational buoy (LNB), marking the end of an important era in our nation's maritime past.

Help Wanted: Support the Restoration


Volunteer Jim Hewitt, a retired shipyard electrician, has restored more than 95 percent of LV-112's shipboard lighting.

We appreciate all the dedicated volunteers and donors who have helped us rescue Nantucket Lightship/LV-112 from a possibly fatal future.


The ship now has two outstanding needs: cash contributions and volunteers. With your support, this National Historic Landmark can continue to serve future generations as a vessel of lifelong learning, showcasing lightship service as a key part of our nation's maritime heritage. In these challenging economic times, grants from governmental agencies are elusive. All funding support to date, both large and small, has come from private sources.


To keep our restoration going, your tax-deductible donation to our 501(c)3 nonprofit organization is urgently needed. To donate, please click here


Volunteers also are invited to join our restoration effort. Each week, we have one or two work parties; come as you can. All kinds of jobs are available including cleaning and painting, historical research, sorting and inventory, leading tours, repairing equipment, etc. To learn more, contact us at 617.797.0135 or email.

The United States Lightship Museum 

The U.S. Lightship Museum is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to the rescue and preservation of Nantucket Lightship/LV-112, a National Historic Landmark. LV-112 is a museum and floating learning center, open to the general public - a place for people of all ages to learn about our nation's seafaring history and the technologies that advanced the nautical and marine sciences.