United States Lightship Portsmouth (LV-101)

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Lightship Portsmouth (LV 101)
Career US Lighthouse service
Name: Lightship Portsmouth
Builder: Pusey & Jones
Laid down: 1915
Launched: 12 January 1916[1]
In service: 1916
Out of service: 1963
Status: Museum ship
General characteristics
Type: Lightship
Displacement: 360 long tons (366 t)
Length: 101 ft 10 in (31.04 m)
Beam: 25 ft (7.6 m)
Draft: 11 ft 4 in (3.45 m)
Propulsion: Meitz & Weiss 4-cylinder kerosene engine, 200 hp (149 kW)
Speed: 8 knots (15 km/h; 9.2 mph)
Armament: None
U.S. National Register of Historic Places
U.S. National Historic Landmark
Location: Portsmouth, Virginia
Coordinates: 36°50′19″N 76°17′55″W / 36.83861°N 76.29861°W / 36.83861; -76.29861Coordinates: 36°50′19″N 76°17′55″W / 36.83861°N 76.29861°W / 36.83861; -76.29861
Built/Founded: 1916
Architect: Pusey & Jones Lightship; US Lighthouse Establishment
Governing body: Local
Added to NRHP: May 05, 1989
Designated NHL: May 05, 1989[3]
NRHP Reference#: 89001080


The United States Lightship 101, known as the Portsmouth, was first stationed at Cape Charles, Virginia. Today the vessel is at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Museum in Portsmouth, Virginia. Portsmouth never had a lightship station, however when the vessel was dry docked there as a museum, it took on the pseudo-name, Portsmouth.


Lightship Portsmouth (LV-101) was built in 1915 by Pusey & Jones. It first served as the Charles in the Chesapeake Bay outside of Cape Charles, Virginia, from 1916 until 1924. After that assignment LV-101 served just over a year as the relief ship for other lightships in its district. It was then moved to Overfalls, Delaware, where it was station from 1926 to 1951 as the Overfalls. In 1939 when the United States Lighthouse Service was absorbed into the United States Coast Guard it became WAL 524, but still kept a station name on its hull. During World War II the vessel was not armed, however many other lightships were. In 1951 LV-101/WAL 524 was reassigned to Stonehorse Shoal, Massachusetts, where it served until decommissioned in 1963. The lightship then sat in harbor at Portland, Maine, until its fate had been decided.

On September 3, 1964 LV-101 was donated to the City of Portsmouth, Virginia, and became a part of Naval Shipyard Museum. The vessel was dry docked at the London Pier in Portsmouth. Today LV-101 is named Portsmouth, although it was never stationed there it has taken on the city's name. In 1989, the Lightship was designated a National Historic Landmark and can still be visited today. It is $3 to go into the hull of the vessel and on the same ticket visit the Naval Shipyard Museum a block down the road.

Name and station assignments

  • Charles, Cape Charles, Virginia (1916–24)
  • Relief, Relief 5th District (1925–26)
  • Overfalls, Overfalls, Delaware (1926–51)
  • Stonehorse Shoal, Stonehorse Shoal, Massachusetts (1951–63)

Other lightships of Chesapeake Bay


  1. "USCG: Lightship LV-101 / WAL-524". www.uscg.mil. http://www.uscg.mil/history/weblightships/LV101.asp. Retrieved 2009-12-16. 
  2. "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2008-04-15. http://www.nr.nps.gov/. 
  3. "LIGHTSHIP NO. 101 "PORTSMOUTH"". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. http://tps.cr.nps.gov/nhl/detail.cfm?ResourceId=2054&ResourceType=Structure. Retrieved 2008-06-26. 

External links