U.S. Coast Guard Lightships

& Those of the U.S. Lighthouse Service




BUILT AT: Toledo (OH)

BUILDER: Blythe Craig Shipbuilding Co

APPROPRIATION: $60,000 (Approp for 3 ships - Simmons Reef White Shoal, and Grays Reef)

CONTRACT PRICE: $14,225 ($42, 675 for 3 shins)


DESIGN: Wood framed & planked; white oak fastened with 5/8" square iron spikes; 2 masts, daymark on foremast; spencer mast aft of main for riding sail; stack on deckhouse amidships.

LENGTH: 102'8" (loa); BEAN: 20'; DRAFT: 8'9"; TONNAGE: 129 gross

PROPULSION: Steam screw-one single cylinder, non-condensing engine, 14" bore x 16" stroke, 100 IHF; fire-tube boiler 5'dia x 9'lg 100 psi; max speed 8 knots

ILLUMINATING APPARATUS: Cluster of 3 oil burning lens lanterns hoisted to each masthead

FOG SIGNAL: 6" steam whistle, hand operated bell


-One of three vessels- designed for use only during the navigation season on the Great Lakes, as an experiment to avoid the high initial and recurring costs for a permanent lighthouse. Maintenance and operating cost for each lightship was estimated at $4,000 per year. Each had enough power for getting to and from station. Mooring, consisting of a 5 ton sinker and 15 fathoms of 2 inch chain was pre-positioned permanently and buoyed, eliminating the need (and cost) for the lightship to carry mushrooms and chain.
-Upon delivery, many construction defects were found during sea trials, and many interior modifications had to be made for comfort of the crew
-This and 2 sister vessels were first US lightships to be self-propelled by machinery
-1891: Masts were found unnecessarily long; shortened during winter layup
-1893: Fog bell added
-1906: Equipped with submarine bell signal


1891-1900: Simmons Reef (MI)
1901-1920: Lansing Shoal (MI)
(Simmons Reef station discontinued Dec 10, 1900 at close of navigation season)
(Lansing Shoal station established Jul 10, 1901)


1891: Sep 14/15, turned over to Lighthouse Establishment at Detroit M1)
1891: Oct 2,5,6, sea trials conducted, many defects noted
1891: Oct 19, Departed Detroit, reaching Port Huron in evening
1891: Oct 20, LV 55,56 & 57 using their own power to assist were taken in tow by tender DAHLIA, making 9 knots; laid over at Sand Beach Harbor of Refuge due to bad weather
1891: Oct 24, placed on Simmons Reef (MI), northerly end of Lake Michigan
1891: Nov 17-20, left station without orders and put into Cheboygan (MI); crew discharged for dereliction of duty and replaced with others "more trustworthy"; replaced by tender DAHLIA Nov 22, remaining on station until close of navigation at which time went into winter Quarters at Cheboygan. Many deficiencies due to missing, incomplete, etc., or faulty equipment were corrected during winter and masts were shortened
1892: Apr 14, picked up mooring and resumed station
1892-1900: Wintered at Cheboygan (MI), being withdrawn Dec thru Mar then resuming station in early April each year. Needed repairs were made while in winter quarters
1896: Fog signal characteristic changed to give 5 sec blasts followed by 55 sec silent intervals
1898: Boiler repairs and smokestack replaced
1900: Dec 10, withdrawn from Simmons Reef; station discontinued
1901: Jul 10, transferred to Lansing Shoal (MI) by joint resolution of Congress
1901-1907, Wintered at Cheboygan (MI), (Sturgeon Bay WI in 1906) during the period, being on station from Mar/Apr through Nov/Dec each year
1901: Extensive rot discovered in frames and planking; all unsound timbers and planking replaced, hull recaulked and painted; one mast replaced.
Remained assigned to Lansing Shoal until 1920 Sep 15, then laid up



Sold Feb 15, 1922 - $840


1893-1902: Michael Mclntire, Master
?-1913: Alfred Hanson, Nate
1913-1914: Andrew Gallagher, Mate
1915-1916: Olaf K Andersen, Mate
1916-1917: John W Barrand, Mate
1917-1918: Edward A Hansen Mate
1918: Hugh H Boyle, Mate
1919: Elias Garrett, Mate
1919-1920: Elias Garrett, Master
1919-1920: Daniel P McCauley, Nate









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Last Modified 1/26/2012