United States lightship Columbia (WLV-604)

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Lightship Columbia
Career (USA) US Lighthouse Service
Name: Columbia ((WLV-604))
Namesake: Columbia River
Builder: Rice Brother Corporation, Boothbay, Maine
Launched: 1950
Commissioned: 1951
Decommissioned: 1979
In service: 1951
Homeport: Astoria, Oregon
Fate: Sold
Status: Museum ship
General characteristics
Displacement: 617 long tons (627 t)
Length: 128 ft (39 m)
Beam: 30 ft (9.1 m)
Draft: 11 ft (3.4 m)
Propulsion: 1 × 550 hp (410 kW) Atlas-Imperial direct reversing 8-cylinder diesel engine
Speed: 10.7 knots (19.8 km/h; 12.3 mph)

17 enlisted men, 1 warrant officer

Lightship WAL-604, "Columbia"
U.S. National Register of Historic Places
U.S. National Historic Landmark
Location: 1792 Marine Drive, Astoria, Oregon
Coordinates: 46°11′25.48″N 123°49′22.82″W / 46.1904111°N 123.8230056°W / 46.1904111; -123.8230056Coordinates: 46°11′25.48″N 123°49′22.82″W / 46.1904111°N 123.8230056°W / 46.1904111; -123.8230056
Built/Founded: 1950
Architect: Rice Brothers
Governing body: Private
Added to NRHP: December 20, 1989[2]
Designated NHL: December 20, 1989[3]
NRHP Reference#: 89002463

United States lightship Columbia (WLV-604) is a lightship located in Astoria, Oregon, United States of America. The Columbia was formerly moored near the mouth of the Columbia River.


Comissioned in 1951, the Columbia was the fourth and final lightship stationed at the mouth of the Columbia River. Built by Rice Brothers Shipyard in Boothbay, Maine, the Columbia was launched with her sister-ship, the WLV-605. The new WLV-604 replaced the aging Columbia vessel No. 90, which had been in service on the Columbia River since 1939. The Columbia River lightships guided vessels across the Columbia River Bar and an area known as the Graveyard of the Pacific from 1892 until 1979. The Columbia was the final lightship to be decommissioned on the U.S. West coast. She was replaced by an automated navigational buoy soon after. The buoy has since been retired.

Because of its importance, the Coast Guard had a permanent 18 man crew stationed on board, consisting of 17 enlisted men and one Warrant Officer who served as ship's captain. Everything the crew needed had to be on board. In the winter, weeks of rough weather prevented any supplies from being delivered. Life on board the lightship was marked by long stretches of monotony and boredom intermixed with riding gale force storms. The crew of 17 men worked two to four week rotations, with ten men on duty at all times. [4][5]

In 1983, the Columbia was added to the National Register of Historic Places.[6] It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1989 under the name Lightship WAL-604, "Columbia".[3][7] WLV-604 is now located at the Columbia River Maritime Museum, alongside the navigational buoy that replaced her in 1979.



  1. "U.S. Lightship Station Assignments". U.S. Coast Guard Historian's Office. http://www.uscg.mil/history/weblightships/Lightship_Station_Index.asp. Retrieved 8 May 2010. 
  2. "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-01-23. http://www.nr.nps.gov/. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 "LIGHTSHIP Wal-604 "COLUMBIA"". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. http://tps.cr.nps.gov/nhl/detail.cfm?ResourceId=2088&ResourceType=Structure. Retrieved 2007-11-19. 
  4. "WLV-604-Columbia Lightship". rudyalicelighthouse.net. http://www.rudyalicelighthouse.net/NWLts/LV604/LV604.htm. Retrieved 2010-07-04. 
  5. "WLV-605-Lightship RELIEF". rudyalicelighthouse.net. http://www.rudyalicelighthouse.net/CalLts/LV605/LV605.htm. Retrieved 2010-07-04. 
  6. "National Register of Historic Places #89002463". National Register of Historic Places. http://www.nationalregisterofhistoricplaces.com/or/Clatsop/state.html. Retrieved 2010-07-04. 
  7. James P. Delgado (June 30, 1989). National Register of Historic Places Registration: Lightship WAL-604 "Columbia" / Columbia WLV-604PDF (637 KiB). National Park Service.  and Accompanying 5 photos, exterior, from c.1960, 1980, 1982. PDF (398 KiB)

See also

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