LIGHTSHIP Portsmouth (LV 101 then WAL 524)

Built: 1915
At: Pusey & Jones, Wilmington, DE
Length: 101 feet 10 inches
Beam: 25 feet
Draft: 11 feet 4 inches
Displacement: 360 tons
Illumination Apparatus: 500mm lens with six flash panels
Fog Signal: 6″ air siren, submarine bell, hand operated bell
Propulsion: One 200 HP Meitz & Weiss four cylinder two-cycle direct reversing kerosene engine; four-bladed propeller.

Mailing Address:
Portsmouth Museums
521 Middle Street
Portsmouth, VA 23704-3708

Address to Visit:
London Slip (intersection of London & Water Streets)
(757) 393-8591  (Please call for days/hours of operation)
Latitude: 36.836977, Longitude: -76.2961719
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Lightship Portsmouth was designated LV 101 when commissioned, but her name changed every time she moved to a new station. She served for 48 years off the coasts of Virginia, Delaware and Massachusetts.

  • 1916-1924: Charles, Cape Charles (VA)
  • 1925-1926: Relief (taking over for other lightships when needed)
  • 1926-1951: Overfalls, Overfalls (DE)
  • 1951-1963: Stonehorse, Stonehorse Shoal (MA)

Her hull is of a steel whaleback design, which helps to keep it on an even keel in stormy seas. It was one of only two such rounded-hull lightships ever constructed. The ship’s illuminating apparatus first consisted of a 500 mm lens with six flash panels set in a rotating motion by weight-driven clockwork. The light itself was derived from a kerosene lamp of 24,000 candlepower set inside a cylindrical lantern. LV 101 was equipped with a number of fog signals as well: a 6 inch air siren was on deck, complimented by a submarine bell and a thousand pound bell which was operated by hand. Over time each of these was updated.

In 1964 she was decommissioned and shortly later became a museum in Portsmouth, VA.

Lightship Portsmouth is a National Historic Landmark.

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