Diamond Shoal Lightship No. 71 (LV-71)

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Diamond Shoal Light Vessel 71.jpg
Career (United States)  United States
Name: Diamond Shoal Lightship No. 71 (LV-71)
Builder: Bath Iron Works
Launched: 1897
Homeport: Hatteras, North Carolina
Fate: Sunk; August 6, 1918
General characteristics
Type: lightship
Complement: 12 officers and men

Diamond Shoal Lightship No. 71 (LV-71) was a lightship of the United States Lighthouse Service. She is most remembered for her sinking in 1918 during World War I when a German U-boat attacked her off North Carolina.[1][2]

Design[edit]

LV-71 was built in 1897 by Bath Iron Works in Maine with a wooden hull and a steel keel and braces. She also had a cluster of three 100 cp electric lens lanterns mounted in a gallery at each masthead, a twelve inch steam chime whistle and a hand operated fog bell weighing 1,000 pounds. The ship's propulsion was supplied by a single surface condensing engine and a scotch fired boiler, with a four bladed propeller eight inches in diameter. She was 122 feet long with a beam width of twenty-eight feet and a draft of thirteen feet, weighing 590 tons. LV-71 had a speed of 8.5 knots and was equipped with telegraph in 1904, and an eighteen inch searchlight in 1905.[3][4]

Career[edit]

The ship was assigned to Diamond Shoal Light near Hatteras, North Carolina on March 9, 1898 though she was originally intended to patrol Overfall Shoal in Delaware Bay. For the next twenty years until her sinking LV-71 remained at Diamond Shoals, alternating out with LV-69. In 1912 LV-71 was modernized again and was fitted with a two-way radio.[5]

World War I[edit]

Upon America's entry into World War I on April 6 of 1917, LV-71 continued to operate as she had for the past several years. On August 6, 1918, exactly one year and four months after the United States' declaration of war on Germany, the lightship was patrolling off North Carolina when she came across the sinking American cargo ship SS Merak. The Merak had been sailing off Diamond Shoals from New York to the West Indies when Commander Waldemar Kophamel, of the submarine U-140, attacked her with torpedoes. One of Merak's crewmen spotted the wake of a torpedo so the ship took to evasive maneuvers and grounded in the process. The Germans then surfaced and began bombarding the Americans with a deck gun, but the ship's crew successfully escaped without being harmed. A little later the LV-71 arrived and rescued the survivors; her skipper Master Walter Barnett then sent out a warning to alert friendly ships in the area of a U-boat's presence. The signal was intercepted by U-140 which quickly returned to the scene and sank the LV-71 with gunfire after letting her twelve-member crew and the survivors of the Merak row to shore in a lifeboat. The two sinkings occurred about twelve miles off the coast; residents of the nearby town of Hatteras could hear the sounds of the naval gunfire. LV-71 was the first and only United States lightship sunk by enemy action.[6][7][8]

See also[edit]

References[edit]