Essentially a floating lighthouse, Nantucket Lightship/LV-112 guided countless vessels through the dangerous, often fogbound waters off the Massachusetts coast. Decommissioned in 1975, LV-112 was sold with a covenant stipulating she must be owned by a non-profit and used for educational purposes. After previous efforts failed, a new owner, the United States Lightship Museum, successfully restored over 60% of the ship and secured an interim berth for the historic vessel. However, the museum still needs a long-term home for LV-112 in order to establish enhanced educational programming related to maritime heritage and environmental, marine, and nautical sciences.
Constructed in 1936 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1989, Nantucket Lightship/LV-112 was called the "Statue of Liberty of the Sea,” as it was the first and last U.S. landmark seen by ships traveling to and from Europe. The vessel's famed fog signal could be heard for 14 miles, while its light beacon could be seen for 23 miles. During WWII, the converted LV-112 patrolled the coast off Portland, ME, rescuing the crew of the USS Eagle-56 after she was sunk by a German U-boat. Its 39 years of service made LV-112 the longest-serving lightship on the Nantucket Shoals.
- Secure a home for Nantucket Lightship/LV-112 and help ensure its long-term preservation and active visitation as museum.
Ways To Help
Donate to our campaign to save Nantucket Lightship/LV-112.
Tell us why the Nantucket Lightship/LV-112 matters to you.
Written by Rebecca Harris, Project Manager
It has already been a busy and productive summer for the Nantucket Lightship/LV-112. Earlier this summer, the United States Lightship Museum (USLM), the non-profit owner of the vessel, negotiated an long-term home with the Boston Harbor Shipyard & Marina (BHSM) in East Boston. The BHSM had been donating dock space to the Lightship since the USLM brought the ship to Boston in early 2010. Since that time, the USLM has been seeking a long-term home somewhere in the Boston Harbor, an effort that we had been helping them with as part of our Treasure work. This new agreement solidifies the Marina and the USLM’s good working relationship and ensures a lasting home for the LV-112. The Lightship is, and now will continue to be, an exciting addition to the East Boston waterfront.
In June, the National Trust’s Board of Trustees met in Boston, and many of the attendees wrapped up the meeting with a tour of the Lightship. Led by the USLM’s President, Robert Mannino, Jr., the Trustees were treated to a comprehensive tour. A fortuitous coincidence occurred during the visit. A former crew member of one of the LV-112’s successor ships, the Nantucket Lightship WLV-613, happened to visit for a tour. He shared personal stories about what it was like to serve on a lightship, which greatly enriched the tour.
In fundraising news, the USLM has also had made progress. They recently received the donation of a large steel docking barge from McAllister Towing & Transportation Co., Inc. Based in New York City, McAllister Towing & Transportation is one of the oldest and largest marine towing and transportation companies in the United States. The USLM also received a substantial donation from H. F. "Gerry" Lenfest. Mr. Lenfest is also passionately committed to helping other historic preservation and educational initiatives such as the SS United States and the newly designed American Revolution Museum in Philadelphia, PA. His gift will be used to underwrite a significant portion of the plumbing and heating systems’ restoration. With functioning heating and plumbing systems, the USLM will have the ability to expand their educational programming to year round (it’s currently limited to the warmer months), and will be able to have full-day programming. Finally, the USLM was required to make upgrades to the dock at which the Lightship is berthed to comply with U.S. Coast Guard regulations. The estimated cost is about $30,000, of which they needed $10,000 immediately as a deposit. With the help of an Intervention Fund Grant from the National Trust, as well as private donations, they USLM met the initial fundraising goal and the dock will receive much-needed repairs.
Throughout the summer, the Lightship is open to the public for tours on Saturdays from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, so if you find yourself in Boston, make plans to visit. To make a donation for the LV-112’s restoration, visit www.nantucketlightshiplv-112.org/.
Written by Rebecca Harris, Project Manager
Each year, Yankee Magazine publishes its Travel Guide to New England. The 2013 issue hit the newsstands in late April. Included in the guide is the “Best of New England—Editor’s Choice” listing, highlighting the best events, restaurants, attractions, and places to stay across the region. The United States Lightship Museum was featured as the “Best Nautical History“ museum for the Nantucket Lightship/LV-112. If you are traveling in New England this year, a visit to the Nantucket Lightship/LV-112 is well worth the time. For more information and visiting hours, see www.nantucketlightshiplv-112.org/.
Bring your friends and family to Boston Harbor Shipyard & Marina and visit the most famous U.S. lightship ever built. The Nantucket Lightship LV-112 is currently undergoing restoration but is open to the public for tours and educational programs on a limited basis. Don’t miss this opportunity to see one of the last “floating lighthouses” of the sea. For more information, visit http://www.nantucketlightshiplv-112.org/visiting_hours.htm.
Written by Rebecca Harris, Project Manager
One of the many enjoyable aspects of working with historic places is researching their histories and getting to know their stories. It's a particular treat to find historic images of those places. These windows into the past contain details that help provide context and provide clues to the daily life of the place. I recently came across a treasure trove of historic photographs of the Nantucket Lightship/LV-112 in the collection of the Boston Public Library (BPL). The BPL has extensive print and photograph collections and makes many of its images available online through a Flickr photostream.
The caption information associated with the image below caught my eye--this photo was taken 82 years ago today--on April 10, 1931. The title of the photo reads: "Latest Lightship Nantucket from bow of Constitution in Navy Yard. Post is 100 miles off Nantucket" and it is part of the Leslie Jones Collection. The Lightship in this image is not the LV-112, but the LV-117, the ill-fated predecessor of the LV-112. It was rammed by the White Star Line's Olympic on May 15,1934, resulting in the sinking of the lightship and the deaths of seven of its eleven crew members. The Constitution mentioned in the caption is the USS Constitution, better known as Old Ironsides, which was launched in 1797 and is most famous for its role in the War of 1812. Throughout their service, the lightships would periodically return to the Charlestown Navy Yard for maintenance and repairs. This image was taken by Leslie Jones (1886-1967) and the glass plate negative is one of many images of the Lightship, the Charlestown Navy Yard, and other ships in the BPL's collection. If you would like to see more historic images of the Nantucket Lightship/LV-112 or other views of Boston's maritime history, check out the Boston Public Library's Flickr stream.
John Arthur Quigley, Jr. on December 05, 2012
http://books.dreambook.com/lightshipsailor/main.html Sunday, October 21st 2012 - 03:05:50 PM . I am from Ipswich, MA and I had recently discovered, through Military Documents, that my deceased uncle, Herbert Quentin Quigley who was from Lynn, MA and had served in the United States Coast Guard from January 30, 1946 through May 15, 1947 had served on the Nantucket Lightship LV-112/WAL-534. Herbert Quentin Quigley's Military Document shows that he was an Apprentice Seaman to 1/C and he was at the C.G. Depot, Woods Hole. Herbert Quentin Quigley was born on May 30, 1928 and passed away on June 26, 2011 at the age of 83. He is buried in the WWII Veteran's Lot in The Pine Grove Cemetery in Lynn, MA. Upon discovering this information about "Uncle Herb" having served on the Nantucket Lightship LV-112 and then learning that this lightship had returned back to this area and was being restored, I contacted Robert M. Mannino, Jr., President of The U.S. Lightship Museum Society and very instrumental in seeing that this lightship is being restored, to see if I and my family would be able to have a tour of this lightship that is presently at The Boston Harbor Shipyard and Marina. Yesterday, October 20, 2012, Robert Mannino, Jr. gave 7 of our family members a very interesting and educational tour of the Nantucket Lightship LV-112. Besides myself- John Arthur Quigley, Jr., along with my wife, Marion Quigley and my daughter, Wendy Quigley from Ipswich, MA, my lst cousin from NY, Kerry Johnson and his wife Deb Johnson, as well as my other lst cousin from CA,Brian Johnson and his wife Vanessa we were able to tour this vessel on mu uncle had served. Kerry Johnson and Brian Johnson are brothers and their mother, Avis (Quigley) Johnson from NY is Herbert Quentin Quigley's sister. My deceased father, John Arthur Quigley, Sr. was my father and had served himself in WWII in The United States Navy. This was quite a wonderful experience for we three lst cousins of the Quigley family, along with my daughter and our wives to have been able to have been together on this tour, preserving this history and possibly even walking in the same footsteps of our "Uncle Herb" while he was serving on this lightship.
Sam Smith on November 27, 2012
I was operations officer aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Spar in the early 1960s. Among our ancillary duties was to rotate the crew on the Nantucket Life Vessel and refuel the ship as we sat moored behind it. It was inevitably late at night because the captain and much of the Spar's crew wanted to enjoy a night on the town in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. The crew going aboard the Nantucket was in no hurry, either, and the crew to be relieved, while perhaps guessing that their departure was being delayed for one last round, couldn't do anything about it. The lightships which went out of service in the 1980s were extraordinary vessels from another time. Some of them were more than 40 years old. David Stick, has described the duty as "a term of solitary confinement combined with the horrors of sea-sickness." Chief Warrant Officer J.B. Gill, who commanded the light vessel at the time, had this to say about the life: "Assignment to duty aboard a lightship was not always looked upon with great enthusiasm. Considering the time spent at sea in sometimes terrible conditions, this was hardly a surprise. There were, however, a few hardy souls who not only enjoyed that type of life, and some even sought it out. In fact, there were certain conditions that were highly desirable. "First of all, lightships were considered "semi-isolated" duty and therefore eligible for certain benefits. The compensatory leave program heads the list as most important. For every two days you were aboard the ship 'on station' you earned a credit of one day compensatory leave. This was in addition to the 30 days per year of regular leave that you normally received. Here's how it worked. . . "Then there were the recluse types that just liked the peace and solitude. Every lightship had one or two of them that just stayed on the ship and didn't go ashore for months. Others did it to save money. Another benefit was the extra allowance for food. With the so-called increased ration we could be more selective in the variety and quality in ordering commissary stores. Generally an effort was made to assign good cooks to lightships. This together with the increased ration resulted in an excellent bill of fare and thus a contented crew. . . "Although life on station was usually fairly routine, there was always something unusual cropping up to keep things from getting boring. These things were not always pleasant. Probably the worst was the arrival of a severe storm as relief day neared. The prospect of conditions being too rough to permit transfer of personnel was very depressing. If the tender arrived and found sea conditions beyond the limits of safe boat transfer, they would pass us by. Sometimes the conditions were so violent that the tender remained in port. Either way, the liberty party was flat out of luck. "Fog was another unpleasantness. It could set in thicker than glue and remain for days on end. Our radio beacon was shifted to continuous operation and the mighty F-2-T diaphone bellowed every thirty seconds until we all became numb. Sleep was impossible and conversation limited to the thirty second intervals between blasts. Worst yet was the specter of being run down by some ship too intent on homing into our beacon." . . . The most exciting experience I had with the Nantucket light vessel was when its radar and loran went out and it was dragged off station. My job as navigator was to put the Nantucket back where she belonged. This was before GPS told you how far it was to the nearest Starbucks and my only tools were our own radar, loran and the radiotelephone. While it was easy to set one's own course with a radar, telling another ship that was just a spot the screen how to get where it wanted was considerably trickier. But in a manner I couldn't possible reproduce today, we pulled it off.
Peter Brunk, Commanding Officer, 1970–71 on August 02, 2012
The worst thing that happened was going through a bad storm the first week of March 1971. My father died on March 7, and they couldn't get me off the ship for over a week. We left Boston on the 6th and storm warnings were up. When we got to station, the Relief Lightship didn't leave for almost a week, so we had two lightships on Nantucket station. The wind blew at over 100 mph for a week. Another interesting event happened in April or May 1970. An American submarine hit the ship with what we think was a dummy torpedo. We were on the corner of the New London sub-operating area, and they were around us a lot.
Bob Gubitosi, Ship's Cook, 1957–61 on August 02, 2012
I went aboard Light Vessel #112 on a foggy day in 1957. I was 17 years old and saw this big red ship with 'Nantucket' painted on it anchored in the calm sea belching out the most ear-piercing foghorn I have ever heard. I think it was then that I realized that my life was about to change. I was the ship's new cook and had to feed 15 men aboard this ship, and I just came from commissarymen school at Groton, Connecticut, where they taught me to feed about a thousand. This was a terrifying experience at that time. I was on the 112 until 1961. I could not get a transfer and had four different skippers during my tour. There were many storms and hurricanes. One scary night was in, I believe 1958, when we broke our anchor chain and did not know it. We wound up off the coast of New Jersey the next day with our radio beacon still going. I remember going on the bridge that night and watching the ship through the porthole going up walls of water that looked like five- to ten-story buildings high, then taking a nose dive straight down.
Bernard Webber, Former LV-112 Crew Member, 1958-1960 on August 02, 2012
I was stationed aboard LV112/WAL534 Nantucket/Relief 1958-59-60 as Chief Executive Petty Officer. Let me say this it was the best coast guard duty I had…Having spent some 45 yrs on the water it's difficult to think in terms of most pleasurable or terrifying. However, on LV112/Wal535 Nantucket/Relief my most pleasurable was the day when the Captain Robert J.W. Collins received a message while we were on Nantucket Station (100 miles off-shore from Woods Hole, MA) that we were being relieved and brought in to become a Relief Lightship.The only terror I felt was when on Nantucket Station in rough foggy weather a Radar Target would be observed headed directly towards the Lightship as it got close you could hear its engines and soon out of the fog so close you could spit on it would come one of the great liners sailing the seas at the time like the S.S. United States or S.S. France.
Rebecca Harris, Boston, MA on August 02, 2012
The Nantucket Lightship/LV-112 is impressive enough from the outside, with its bright red hull emblazoned with Nantucket in white letters, the twin masts with light beacons, and its large size. Then you go aboard and learn about the life of the crew. How they were stationed 100 miles off the mainland (hurricane or not), how they endured the deafening sound of the fog horn at 30-second intervals, how close they would come to being rammed by passing ships, and how their service allowed for the safe passage of ships to and from the East Coast for decades, and the Lightship comes alive.