Photographer: Jeffrey W. Churill

Photographer: Keith W. Churill

 

LV103 / WAL526 - Huron

 Port Huron, MI   (Museum) 

Built:  1920 in Morris Heights, NY

Builder: Consolidated Shipbuilding Co.

Construction Price: $161,074 U.S.

Hull Type: Steel

Engine Type:  Steam / Diesel

Length:  96 ' - 5"  Beam: 24' - 0"  Draft: 9' - 6"

Tonnage:  310 tons / fresh water displacement

Status: Inactive (Museum)

Location: Port Huron, MI Head of the St. Clair River, just South of the Blue Water Bridge.

Access: Car, parking right near the lightship.

Replacing Lighthouses:

Vessel Description: Steel hull steam screw, single tubular lantern mast, small aft jigger mast for riding sail; steel pilothouse; smokestack amidships.

Propulsion: Steam - (1) compound reciprocating engine, 175 IHP; equipped with (2) coal fired Scotch boilers.

Lighting System: (1) 300mm acetylene lens lantern 

Fog Signal Devices: 10" steam whistle; hand operated bell

History of LV103 / WAL526: This small ship was built in New York City in 1920 and launched as Lightship #103 of the United States Lighthouse Service. She conducted and passed her sea trials and conditional acceptance on December 3 & 4 of 1920. Steaming from New York to Maine, she was then towed on May 18 by HIBISCUS, along with LV99, to the St Lawrence River entrance. Both lightships then steamed to Ogdensburg NY, where they met with CROCUS who escorted them to Detroit. LV103 then steamed to Milwaukee arriving in port on June 9, 1921 being assigned to Relief Duty. The ship was later renamed U.S. Coast Guard WAL526. Under this name, she went into service as a relief vessel for other lightships, on various shoals throughout Northern Lake Michigan. 

She served as the Gray's Reef Light from 1923 - 1927 and again in 1930. In 1934 she served as the North Manitou Shoal light. In 1935 she was assigned to her final location at the Corsica Shoals, 6 miles North of Port Huron. For the next 36 years she guided ships into the entrance of the narrow channel between Lake Huron and the St. Clair River. In 1936, the hull was repainted, changing her color from red to black. From 1945 on she was the only black lightship in service. In 1949 she received diesel engines replacing her original steam driven engines. Servicing until 1971, she was the only lightship on the Great Lakes for the last 30 years of her service. Lighted buoys slowly replaced the need for these lightships.

Visiting the Lightship: The City of Port Huron acquired the Huron, mooring her at her present location. In 1989 she was officially designated a National Historic Landmark. She has since been dry docked as the last surviving Lightship on the Great lakes and turned into a museum allowing you to get a first hand look at how the sailors lived while stationed on a lightship. Located just south of the Blue Water Bridges on the St. Clair River, the new Thomas Edison Depot Museum & the Historic Huron Lightship Museum are open for tours Fridays from 1:00 to 8:00 p.m. (May 17-September 27, 2002) and Daily from 1:00 to 4:30 p.m. in the Summer. The Port Huron Museum, Depot Museum and Lightship Museum normal hours are 1:00 to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday the balance of the year.

Purchase a Passport and SAVE up to 50%! Passports are valid for and available at all three museums and cost $3.00 for students and seniors, $5.00 for adults. Children six and under are FREE accompanied by an adult. Please call 810-982-0891 or visit web site www.phmuseum.org for additional information and verification of fees.

 Other Local Attractions: Just South of the Lightship is the dock for the U.S.S. Bramble, a 150 foot Coast Guard buoy tender. Throughout most of the summer months she is docked here. To the North is a river park that overlooks the St. Clair River and the Blue Water Bridge. Approximately 1 mile North of the lightship is the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse. Many scuba divers are seen in the area drift diving the many shipwrecks lining the river bottom.

Refitting & Modifications:

1924: Submarine bell signal installed

1927: Light changed from acetylene to electricity

1933: Fog signal replaced with a 17" Leslie Typhon Steam diaphragm horn 

1934: Radio beacon installed

1934: Light changed back to acetylene from electric

1935: Radio beacon synchronized with fog signal for distance finding

193?: Light converted to duplex electric 375mm lens lantern rated at 15, 000 candlepower

1940 - 1970: Radio and visual call sign NMGS

1948: Re-powered with twin inline diesels GM 6-71, new max speed: 9 knots

1962: USCG lists F2T air diaphone, CR-103 radar

Stations / Locations Serviced:

1921-1923: Lightship Relief Vessel

1924-1926: Grays Reef, MI 

1927-1928: Lightship Relief Vessel (12th District)

1929: Grays Reef, MI

1929-1933: Lightship Relief Vessel (12th District)

1934-1935: North Manitou Shoal, MI

1935: Lightship Relief Vessel (11th District)

1936: Hull color changed from red to black

1942-1945: Remained assigned to Lake Huron station during WWII

1936-1970: Corsica Shoals, lower Lake Huron, MI

1970: Retired from Lightship Service at 50 years old.

Commanding Officers:

1920-?

Hiram S Hill, Master

1962

BMC Leon DeRosia, OIC


 

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