United States lightship Huron (LV-103)

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File:Huron Lightship early career.jpg
LV-103 circa 1922
Name: LV-103
Builder: Consolidated Shipbuilding Co
Laid down: June 5, 1918
Launched: May 1, 1920
In service: December 22, 1920
Out of service: August 25, 1970
Fate: Museum Ship
General characteristics
Displacement: 312 tons
Length: 97 ft (30 m)
Beam: 24 ft (7.3 m)
Draft: 9 ft 6 in (2.90 m)
Propulsion: 175 hp steam engine (original equipment)
Speed: 8-knot (9.2 mph)
Crew: 11
Huron (lightship)
U.S. National Register of Historic Places
U.S. National Historic Landmark
Location: Port Huron, Michigan
Coordinates: 42°59′21″N 82°25′36″W / 42.98917°N 82.42667°W / 42.98917; -82.42667Coordinates: 42°59′21″N 82°25′36″W / 42.98917°N 82.42667°W / 42.98917; -82.42667
Built/Founded: 1918
Architect: Consolidated Shipbuilding Co.
Governing body: Local
Added to NRHP: July 12, 1976[1]
Designated NHL: December 20, 1989[2]
NRHP Reference#: 76001974

The United States lightship Huron (LV-103) is a lightvessel that was launched in 1920 and now a museum ship[3] moored in Pine Grove Park, Port Huron, St. Clair County, Michigan.[4]

Great Lakes lightships

The Huron Lightship is one of many lightvessels that plied the waters of the Great Lakes.[5]

In 1832 the first lightship on the Great Lakes was placed at Waugoshance Shoal.[6] That wooden light ship was the Lois McLain. In 1851 she was replaced by the Waugoshance Shoal, which is at one of the most hazardous areas near the Straits of Mackinac, Michigan.[7]

In Lake Huron, Huron was the third ship to be placed at Corsica Shoals, a station established in 1893, replacing a gas buoy that was "somewhat ineffective". Three vessels bore the designation of 'Huron Lightship' from 1893 to 1970. The first was Lightship No. 61, a wooden-hulled ship, painted red with white lettering saying "Corsica Shoals" on her sides. No. 61 served from September 1893 until 1921. She was lost during the November Great Lakes Storm of 1913, which destroyed at least 12 ships and over 250 lives. That lightship was torn from its moorings and forced onto Point Edward on the Canadian shore.[8] Its being off the assigned site was a contributing factor in the loss of the Matthew Andrews at Corsica Shoals.[9] In any event, she was reclaimed and repaired, and remained in service until 1920, when she was retired and sold at auction.[10]

In the same storm, Lightship LV 82 Buffalo foundered near Buffalo in Lake Erie, with the loss of six lives.[11] See Shipwrecks of the 1913 Great Lakes storm and List of victims of the 1913 Great Lakes storm. LV82 was salvaged and saw service with the Coast Guard until 1936.[12]

In 1921, Lightship No. 61 was replaced by Lightship No. 96, the first vessel to actually be called Huron Lightship.[13]

In 1925, there were ten lightvessels on the Great Lakes. 15 years later, that was reduced down to one, the Huron.[14]

A list of Great Lakes lightvessel assignments is available.[15]

Lightship No. 103 construction and service

Huron was built in the Consolidated Shipbuilding Company in Morris Heights, New York. Her keel was laid in 1918. Completion cost $147,428. 96.5 feet (29.4 m) long, 24 feet (7.3 m) in the beam, drawing 9.5 feet (2.9 m), and weighing 312 tons. Ship #103 was powered by a single compound reciprocating steam engine, driven by two coal-fired Scotch boilers. They put out 175 horsepower (130 kW).[16]

Commissioned in 1921 as Lightship Number 103, it operated primarily in southern Lake Huron near Port Huron and the mouth of the St. Clair River.[17] Huron spent the 1924, 1925, 1926 and 1929 seasons lighting Grays Reef. She was assigned in 1934 and 1935 seasons to the North Manitou Shoal. In 1935 she was transferred to the Eleventh District for one year, seeing duty as a relief ship. In 1935, the Huron was repainted (with "Huron" on her sides, starboard side painted red and the port side painted black) and transferred to Corsica Shoals, approximately 6 miles (9.7 km) north of the Blue Water Bridge (connecting Port Huron and Sarnia, Ontario, Canada.) [16]

The Huron was equipped with one acetylene lens lantern, 300 mm, a 10" steam whistle fog horn, and a hand operated bell[17]

During World War II, she was renamed the Manitou and stationed in California, [16] although the U.S. Coast Guard website says otherwise.[17]

After 1945 as the Huron, she was the only lightship that was painted black.[17]

In 1948, she was refitted to diesel power with twin six-cylinder GM 6-71 engines at the Defoe Shipbuilding Company of West Bay City, Michigan.[18] The cost was $168,000. After this conversion, her top speed was nine knots.

On May 7, 1958, Coast Guardsman Robert Gullickson perished when a wave swamped a tender from the Huron Lightship that he was aboard. He is memorialized on the ship, as he was the only casualty during its many years of service.[19]

On August 20, 1970, she weighed her anchor the last time from Corsica Shoal. She was decommissioned at Detroit on August 25. Upon decommissioning, she was replaced by an unmanned warning buoy light. Ownership of LV-103 was transferred to the City of Port Huron the following June.[16]

Retirement, honors and museum service

Huron Lightship Museum, 2006

The following honors have been indicated:

The text of the 1973 historical marker aptly notes:

  • Commissioned in 1921, the Huron began service as a relief vessel for other Great Lakes lightships. She is ninety-seven feet long, twenty-four feet in beam, and carried a crew of eleven. On clear nights her beacon could be seen for fourteen miles (21 km). After serving in northern Lake Michigan, the Huron was assigned to the Corsica Shoals in 1935. These shallow waters, six miles (10 km) north of Port Huron, were the scene of frequent groundings by lake freighters in the late nineteenth century. A lightship station had been established there in 1893, since the manned ships were more reliable than lighted buoys. After 1940 the Huron was the only lightship on the Great Lakes. Retired from Coast Guard Service in 1970, she was presented to the City of Port Huron in 1971.[20]

As an icon of the Great Lakes, a needlepoint illustration of Lightship No. 103 has been designed.[21]

The ship is exceptionally well-preserved, and has an operable light and fog horn still on board.[22] Her twin General Motors diesel engines are fully operational, having been brought back to life through the efforts of volunteer mechanics.[23] Amateur radio station K8HLM operates from her. She is officially designated as Amateur Radio Lighthouse Society No. USA-394.[24]

She was the last of her kind. It is the smallest surviving lightship, and is representative of the 96-foot (29 m) class.[4]

See also


  1. "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-01-23. http://www.nr.nps.gov/. 
  2. "LIGHTSHIP NO. 103 "HURON"". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. http://tps.cr.nps.gov/nhl/detail.cfm?ResourceId=1676&ResourceType=Structure. Retrieved 2008-06-27. 
  3. Huron Lightship Museum home page.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Michigan History and Arts on Huron Lightship.
  5. Wagner, John L., Beacons Shining in the Night, Michigan Lighthouse Bibliography, Chronology, History, and Photographs, Clarke Historical Library, Central, Michigan University.
  6. Wagner, John L., Chronology of Michigan lightship and lighthouses Beacons Shining in the Night, Clarke Historical Library, Central, Michigan University.
  7. Terry Pepper, Seeing the Light, Waugoshance Shoal Light.
  8. U.S. Coast Guard's "Lightships of the U. S. Government" site
  9. Barcus, Frank, Freshwater Fury: Yarns and Reminiscences of the Greatest Storm in Inland Navigation, (Detroit, Michigan: Wayne State University Press, 1986) 166 pages. ISBN 0-8143-1828-2.
  10. LV61, U.S. Coast Guard.
  11. Vogel, Michael N. and Paul F. Redding Maritime Buffalo, Buffalo History, Lightship LV 82.
  12. LV82, U.S. Coast Guard.
  13. U.S. Coast Guard on lighthouses and lightships.
  14. Clarke Historical Library, Beacons of the Nights, a History of Lighthouses in Michigan.
  15. Great Lakes Lightvessel assignments, Terry Pepper, Seeing the Light.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 Huron Lightship page from Terry Pepper's Seeing the Light.
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 U.S. Coast Guard Vessel Designation:: LV 103/WAL 526.
  18. Defoe Ship Building Co.
  19. Arnold, Wayne, Huron Lightship Museum, Port Huron, Michigan. "The Ultimate Price" boatnerd.com.
  20. Michigan Historical Markers.
  21. Needlepoint of Huron Lightship.
  22. The Lighthouse Directory Lighthouses of the Eastern Lower Peninsula, Lightship Huron, Lighthouse Digest, University of North Carolina
  23. Clark, Sue, Lightship Huron’s Twin GM Diesels To Roar Again, Lighthouse News, December 17, 2007.
  24. Lightship Huron, Lighthouse Digest, University of North Carolina.

Specialized Further reading

  • "Light Vessel ‘No. 103.’" Lighthouse Service Bulletin II, 29 (May 1, 1920), p. 125; II, 37 (Jan 3, 1921), p. 161.

Further reading

External links