U.S. Coast Guard Lightships

& Those of the U.S. Lighthouse Service



BUILT AT: Camden (NJ)

BUILDER: New York Shipbuilding Co


CONTRACT PRICE: $89,000 (Approp. approved Mar 3, 1903)

SISTER VESSELS: LV 78,79,80,83

DESIGN: Steam screw; steel hull, 2 steel masts with wood spencers; small wood pilot house; smokestack amidships

LENGTH: 129'0" (loa); BEAM: 28'6" ; DRAFT: 12'6"; TONNAGE: 668 displ

PROPULSION: Steam - one compound reciprocating engine, 16" and 31" bores x 24" stroke, 325 IHP; 2 boilers 9'3"dia x 16'4" long, 100 psi; propeller '7'9" dia; max speed 10 knots; also rigged for sail

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

FOG SIGNAL: 12" steam chime whistle; hand operated 1000-lb bell

1910: Submarine bell signal installed-
1915: Equipped with radio-
1931: Illuminating apparatus changed to 375mm electric lens lantern at each masthead; lantern houses and spencer masts removed-
1931: Fog whistle replaced with steam diaphragm horn (Leslie 17" typhon)-
1936: Repowered; Atlas Imperial diesel 375 HP, max speed 8 knots; auxiliary machinery replaced with Diesel; fog signal changed to F2T diaphone-
1939: Radio-beacon installed-
1945: Fitted with detection radar-
1949: USCG lists the vessel with 2 500mm 13,OOOcp lens lanterns; TB-144 radar; other characteristics as above-
Radio and visual call sign NMGD (1940-1951)


1905-1936: Heald Bank (TX)
1936-1938: Unassigned (8th district)
1938-1940: Unassigned (2nd District)
1940-1942: Boston (MA)
1942-1945: Examination Vessel; WWII
1946-1951: Boston (MA)
(1936-1938: Converted from steam to diesel, then laid up, 8th district)
(1938-1940: Unassigned, undergoing extensive repairs, Chelsea, MA)
(1942-1945: During WWII, withdrawn from Boston station and assigned to 5th district at Norfolk, VA; used as examination vessel/guard ship; armed with one 3" gun)

1903: Oct 1, bids advertised, estimating completion by Dec 31, 1904-
1905: Jun 11, delivered by contractor to New Orleans (LA), but lack of operating funds prevented placing vessel on station; Mar 22, steamed to Mobile (AL), hauled and painted; departed Mobile for station Mar 28-
1905: Apr 3, placed on Heald Bank (TX), 3/4 mi SW x S from a shoal spot of 4 1/2 fathoms, the shallowest part of the bank about 28 mi off Galveston Harbor entrance showing 2 fixed white lights-
1906: Apr 25-May 17, towed to Mobile for repair; station temporarily marked by lighted buoy-
1915: Sep 3/4, during hurricane, hull plates damaged by dock at New Orleans-
1917: Meteorological equipment supplied by arrangement with USN and Weather Bureau for recording and reporting weather observations twice daily by radio-
1919: Jun 14, during heavy gale, parted chain and anchored 1 mi SW of station; regained station Jun 17 when weather moderated-
1926: Aug 18-21, while docked at Pensacola for repair, during hurricane bow plating severely damaged by repeatedly colliding with the stern of LV 102 which was tied up ahead; both vessels hauled for repair

More notes: LV 81 / WAL 507-
During 1930s lightship withdrawn from station Jul 15-Oct 15 each year-
1936: Jul 15, withdrawn from station and was not replaced thereafter; steam propulsion and auxiliary machinery replaced with Diesel, then laid up.-
1938: Notice to Mariners - lightship will not be replaced, station discontinued-
1938: Jun, transferred to 2d District; departed Mobile AL Jun 29, arriving at Chelsea MA Jul 13-
1938/1940 Unassigned; during this period, major overhaul and hull repairs carried out at Fore River Shipyard followed by refit and equipment changes and repainting inside and out at Chelsea Depot during 1939-
1940: Placed on Boston station-
1942: Withdrawn during WWII for service as Examination Vessel, station marked by buoy 1942-43, then by LV 54 pending return of LV 81-
1946: Restationed on Boston until 1951


SUBSEQUENT DISPOSITION: Decommissioned Apr 4, 1951; sold Jul 21, 1955


1905-1906: Fred Tredup, Master
1905: Theodore Colson, Mate
1905-1906: Elwood C Evans, Mate
1906-?: Elwood C Evans, Master
1906-?: Henry Q Austin, Mate
?-1914: D H McCluskey, Mate
1914-1915: James Heaney, Mate
1916-?: Tonning Torkildsen, Mate
?-1916: Frederick Skousgard, Master
1916-1917: David H McCluskey, Master
1917: Edward Dorgan, Mate
1917-1919: Emil C Oxelgren, Mate
1919-?: Charles H Donegal, Mate
?-1938: Henry Olsen, Mate
1949: BMC Ralph Joline OIC

 Lightship 81, at sea, circa 1930 

LV-81 on Heald station; circa early 1930s.
No official caption/date/photo number; photographer unknown.

Scan provided courtesy of Art Richmond.

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Last Modified 9/18/2012