U.S. Coast Guard Lightships

& Those of the U.S. Lighthouse Service


YEAR BUILT: (see also LV 99/WAL 522 for early history of this vessel)






DESIGN: LV 99/WAL 522 was moved to the Curtis Bay Yard Apr 20, 1943, During 1949/50 it was modified and refitted to serve as an experimental, unattended lightship controlled by radio from ashore and designated EXP-99.

LENGTH: 91;8" (loa); BEAM: 22' 0"; DRAFT: 10'7"; TONNAGE: 215 disp (fresh water)

PROPULSION: Original propulsion and auxiliary machinery removed; shaft and propeller removed and stern tube welded shut; original stack removed

ILLUMINATING APPARATUS: Duplex 500 lens lantern in masthead gallery 40 ft emergency light of lower intensity mounted above main lantern)

FOG SIGNAL: Electronic 3-tone chime diaphragm horn using 180 individual speakers in a five sided structure; 1 blast every 10 seconds, 5,400 watt power output


Modified version of LV 99/WAL 522 - Stern modified prior to 1943, stern tube welded shut, and all original machinery removed to accommodate equipment required for unattended operation, remotely controlled by radio from shore. This included three 20KW engine-generator sets (one operating, 2 standby) automatic bilge pumps, automatic fire extinguishing system, and two-way FM radio equipment which received coded radio signals from ashore, translating them to electro- mechanical signals for stopping and timing the operation of all installed equipment. Provision was also made for continuous monitoring of all systems and transmission of status data to the shore station. In addition to the illuminating apparatus and fog signal mentioned above, there were 2 sets of beacon gear (1 operating, 1 standby), an automated 1000 lb fog bell, and an emergency battery power supply. The control system was developed by Westinghouse, the fog signal by RCA. Savings in annual operating costs were estimated at $59, 000 as compared to a conventional crewed light-ship.


Called SANDY HOOK EXPERIMENTAL LIGHTSHIP and following a two month period of continuous trial operation, was to have been placed near Scotland LI Lightship for evaluation, The control equipment was installed at the Sandy Hook Light station, and the lightship was moved from Curtis Bay to the Third District at Staten island about May 1950. However, establishment of the lightship station was postponed indefinitely, and no further reference to the vessel could be found.

The experimental lightship was apparently never placed in service.

(see historical notes)


Notices to Mariners contain the following:

1949 - New York Harbor, South Channel

NM Oct 8 - "About Jan 1, 1950 Sandy Hook Experimental Lightship EXP will be established 5850 yards, 94 degrees 30 minutes from Sandy Hook Light - red hull, EXP in white on sides, white superstructure, buff mast and gallery. Flashing red light every 6 seconds (1 second flash), 2000cp light at 40 feet visible 12 miles; electric chime diaphragm horn, 1 blast every 10 seconds (two second blast), Class B radiobeacon, range 10 miles, 298kc, 
(._.. ), 60 seconds on, 120 seconds off during 1st and 4th ten minute period of each hour in clear weather; continuous use in fog or low visibility. Note - lightship is unmanned and controlled from ashore. Position: 40 27.5 - 73 56.4." (this would place it about 1.3 mi - 315 degrees from Scotland Lightship)

1950 - New York Harbor, South Channel

NM Jan 7 - "Establishment of Sandy Hook Experimental Lightship has been postponed indefinitely." (No further reference found in NMs through 1955)

More notes:

A news release dated April 29, 1950 describing the experimental lightship and stating that it was to be placed on station during the summer of 1950 was carried by the New York Times and other newspapers. A similar write up with photographs appeared in the Coast Guard Magazine, and descriptive material and drawings appeared in Popular Science magazine

In the light of all the advance publicity, it is indeed peculiar that no follow-up explanation or reason for the postponement was presented in the media, and equally peculiar that no official records can be found- which address either the undertaking itself, or subsequent events and disposition of the vessel.

It is concluded that the experimental lightship EXP-99 was never placed on station, and later history of the vessel is either non-existent or unavailable


AGE: ?


Coast Guard records show only that LV 99/WAL 522 was decommissioned May 4, 1956 and sold Nov 5, 1956.

Lightship EXP 99

No caption; 12 April 1950; no photo number; photo by "Hansen".

The EXP-99 at the Coast Guard Yard, Curtis Bay, Maryland.

Lightship EXP 99

"Experimental Light Ship 99: The Light Ship 99 is being converted from a standard Light Ship into an unattended Light Ship at the Coast Guard Yard."; 29 March 1950; no photo number; photographer unknown.

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Last Modified 2/28/2012