List of lightships of the United States

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This is a list of lightships of the United States, listing lightships operated by the United States government. The first US lightship was put in place off of Willoughby Spit in Chesapeake Bay, Virginia in 1820.[1] Lightships remained in service in the United States until March 29, 1985 when the last ship, the Nantucket I, was decommissioned.[2] During that period, lightships were operated by several branches of the government: by the Lighthouse Establishment from 1820 to 1852, the Lighthouse Board from 1852 to 1910, the Lighthouse Service from 1910 to 1939, and the Coast Guard from 1939 to 1985.

The naming conventions used for lightships are not consistent. Until 1867, there was no uniform method to refer to individual lightships. Lightships in that period generally took the name of the station that they served, but occasionally other names. These names were not permanently assigned to an individual vessel. Rather, whenever a lightship was moved to a new station she took on that name. That made identifying individual ships nearly impossible. Beginning in 1867, lightship numbers (hull numbers) were assigned to ships still in service. These numbers are the primary means of identifying individual lightships across her various stations. In 1938, the Lighthouse Service retroactively allocated letter codes to the unnumbered lightships based on their research of available records, although some ships may have been lost or misidentified.[3] Even with the hull numbers, it is common to refer to a lightship by the name of the station it serves (or Relief, if it is a relief ship) and a few, such as the Nantucket I and Nantucket II have been given individual names.

Lightship LV-1 in 1907.
Lightship LV-2, circa 1900.
Lightship LV-3 in 1907.
Lightship LV-71, circa 1910.
Designation Start Year End Year Stations Notes
Lightship A c. 1838 c. 1868 St. Helena Bar (1838 – 1859)
Combahee Bank (1859–1868)
[A] [3]
Lightship B 1821 1861 Smith Point (1821 – 1861) Sunk by Confederate States Navy, 1861 [A] [3]
Lightship C 1820 c. 1859 Willoughby's Spit (1820)
Craney Island (1821 – 1859)
[A] [3]
Lightship D c. 1854 c. 1860 Frying Pan Shoal (1854 – 1860) Sunk or captured by the Confederate States Navy [A] [3]
Lightship E c. 1854 c. 1860 Rattlesnake Shoal (1854 – 1860) Sunk or captured by the Confederate States Navy [A] [3]
Lightship F c. 1849 after 1860 Ship Shoal (1849 – 1859)
Relief (1860 – Unknown)
Formerly USRC McLane [A] [3]
Lightship G c. 1865 1866 Cross Rip (1865 – 1866) Abandoned/sunk December 30, 1866 [A] [3]
Lightship H c. 1828 1864 Cross Rip (1828 – 1864) Formerly President
Wrecked at Cape Poge, Martha's Vineyard, 1864
[A] [3]
Lightship K c. 1839 c. 1859 Martins Industry (1839 – 1855)
Calibouge Sound (1855 – 1859)
[A] [3]
Lightship L c. 1835 after 1849 Bartlett Reef (1835 – 1849)
Eel Grass Shoal (1849 – Unknown)
[A] [3]
Lightship M c. 1826 c. 1855 Wade Point Shoal (1826 – 1855) [A] [3]
Lightship N 1823 c. 1855 Brandywine Shoal (1823 – 1850)
Minots Ledge (1851 – 1854)
Relief (1855)
[A] [3]
Lightship O c. 1835 1861 Bowlers Rock (1835 – 1861) Sunk or captured by the Confederate States Navy [A] [3]
Lightship P c. 1848 after 1848 Tybee Island Knoll (1848 – Unknown) [A] [3]
Lightship Q 1821 c. 1847 Willoughby's Spit (1821 – 1847) [A] [3]
Lightship R 1847 1867 Willoughby's Spit (1847 – 1867) Formerly USRC Spencer [A] [3]
Lightship S 1821 after 1821 Wolf Trap Shoal (1821 – Unknown) [A] [3]
Lightship T 1856 1861 Wolf Trap / York Spit (1856 – 1861) Sunk or captured by the Confederate States Navy, 1861 [A] [3]
Lightship U c. 1834 1861 Windmill Point (1834 – 1861) Sunk or captured by the Confederate States Navy, 1861 [A] [3]
Lightship V c. 1863 1864 Fishing Rip (1863 – 1864) Formerly Ascension, captured during the American Civil War
Commandeered by United States Navy (July 5, 1863 – March 1864)
[A] [3]
Lightship W c. 1847 1860 Merrills Shell Bank (1847 – 1860) Formerly USRC Legare
Sunk by Confederate States Navy, 1860
[A] [3]
Lightship X 1823 c. 1845 Upper Middle Shoal (1823 – 1845) May be Lightship LV-19 [A] [3]
Lightship Y c. 1857 c. 1861 Dames Point (1857 – 1861) [A] [3]
Lightship Z 1847 c. 1860 Vineyard Sound (1847 – 1860) [A] [3]
Lightship AA c. 1825 c. 1841 Carysfort Reef (1825 – 1841) Formerly Ceasar
May have been converted to a bell boat in 1841, but may have been two ships. (The first retired in 1830.)
[A] [3]
Lightship BB c. 1841 c. 1852 Carysfort Reef (1841 – 1841) Possibly USS Florida (1824) [A] [3]
Lightship DD c. 1825 1861 Lower Cedar Point (1825 – 1861) Sunk or captured by the Confederate States Navy, 1861 [A] [3]
Lightship EE before 1859 c. 1859 Upper Cedar Point (Unknown – 1859) [A] [3]
Lightship FF c. 1831 after 1831 Brant Island Shoal (1831 – Unknown) [A] [3]
Lightship GG c. 1863 c. 1863 Brant Island Shoal (1863) [A] [3]
Lightship HH c. 1828 c. 1862 Neuse River (1828 – 1862) [A] [3]
Lightship JJ c. 1825 1861 Long Shoal (1825 – 1861) Sunk or captured by the Confederate States Navy, 1861 [A] [3]
Lightship KK c. 1864 c. 1867 Long Shoal (1864 – 1867) [A] [3]
Lightship LL c. 1821 after 1821 Upper Cedar Point (1821 – Unknown) [A] [3]
Lightship MM c. 1835 1861 Roanoke River (1835 – 1861) Sunk or captured by the Confederate States Navy, 1861 [A] [3]
Lightship NN c. 1838 c. 1854 Northwest Passage (1838 – 1854) [A] [3]
Lightship PP c. 1846 c. 1853 Sand Key (1846 – 1853) [A] [3]
Lightship QQ c. 1836 1861 Harbor Island (1836 – 1861) Sunk or captured by the Confederate States Navy, 1861 [A] [3]
Lightship RR c. 1835 c. 1861 Roanoke Island (1835 – 1861) [A] [3]
Lightship SS c. 1827 1861 Nine Foot Shoal (1827 – 1859)
Upper Cedar Point (1859 – 1861)
Sunk or captured by the Confederate States Navy, 1861 [A] [3]
Lightship TT c. 1852 c. 1859 Okracoke Channel (1852 – 1859) [A] [3]
Lightship UU c. 1851 c. 1870 Horseshoe Shoal (1851 – 1870) [A] [3]
Lightship VV 1823 c. 1829 Sandy Hook (1823 – 1829) [A] [3]
Lightship WW 1839 c. 1854 Sandy Hook (1839 – 1854) [A] [3]
Lightship XX 1849 c. 1870 Galveston (1849 – c. 1870) [A] [3]
Lightship YY 1832 c. 1851 Mackinaw Straight (1832 – 1851) Formerly Louis Molane [A] [3]
Lightship ZZ 1820 c. 1823 Northeast Pass (1820 – 1823) Also called Aurora Borealis [A] [3]
Lightship LV-1 1856 1930 Nantucket New South Shoal (1856 – 1892)
Martins Industry (1892 – 1896)
Frying Pan Shoal (1896 – 1911)
Martins Industry (1911 – 1922)
Savannah (1922 – 1930)
Donated to Sea Scouts 1930.
Ran aground on the banks of the Merrimack River in 1936 flood.
[B] [4]
Lightship LV-2 1849 1921 Pollock Rip (1849 – 1875)
Winter Quarter Shoal (1875 – 1876)
Hen and Chickens (1877 – 1907)
Relief (1907 – 1921)
Formerly General Taylor [B] [5]
Lightship LV-3 1852 1923 Shovelful Shoal (1852 – 1916)
Relief (1916)
Handkerchief Shoal (1916 – 1923)
Formerly Old Hickory [B] [6]
Lightship LV-4 1856 1924 Bishop and Clerks (1856 – 1858)
Handkerchief Shoal (1858 – 1916)
Relief (1916 – 1924)
[B] [7]
Lightship LV-5 1866 1930 Hen and Chickens (1866 – 1867)
Cross Rip (1867 – 1915)
Relief (1916)
Stonehorse Shoal (1916 – 1923)
Handkerchief Shoal (1923 – 1924)
Relief (1925 – 1930)
[B] [8]
Lightship LV-6 1862 1918 Succonnesset Shoal (1862 – 1912)
Relief (1912 – 1915)
Cross Rip (1915 – 1918)
Disappeared February 4, 1918 in moving ice. Loss of all hands. [B] [9]
Lightship LV-7 1854 1909 Minots Ledge (1854 – 1860)
Vineyard Sound (1861 – 1875)
Relief (1875 – 1881)
Wreck of Scotland (1881 – 1902)
Relief (1902 – 1909)
[B] [10]
Lightship LV-8 1860 1879 Frying Pan Shoal (1860)
Han and Chickens (1867 – 1877)
Relief (1877 – 1879)
Originally Thomas G. Haight.
Commissioned by the USN as USS Arctic (1855) in the rescue of Elisha Kane in 1855. Sold to Lighthouse Establishment prior to 1859.
Sunk by Confederate States Navy in 1860 at Cape Fear River.
Salvaged by USLHT Iris in 1866 and repaired.
[B] [11]
Lightship LV-9 1858 1925 Relief (1858–1915)
Hedge Fence (1915–1925)
[B] [12]
Lightship LV-10 1887 1902 Grosse Pointe (1887–1902) Purchased as a construction barge for the Lighthouse Service, converted to a lightship in 1887. [13]
Lightship LV-11 1854 1925 Nantucket New South Shoal (1854–1855)
Brenton Reef (1856–1897)
Relief (1897–1902)
Scotland (1902–1925)
[B] [14]
Lightship LV-12 c. 1835 1871 Eel Grass Shoal (Unknown–1871) Formerly the Guthrie. Number reassigned in 1871. (See note.) [C] [15]
Lightship LV-13 1854 1913 Relief (1854 – 1855)
Succonnessett Shoal (1855 – 1862)
Relief (1862 – 1867)
Bartlett Reef (1867 – 1933)
Relief (1933 – 1934)
[B] [16]
Lightship LV-14 1853 1872 Brenton Reef (1853 – 1856)
Cornfield Point (1856 – 1872)
Relief (1872)
Formerly Ledyard [B] [17]
Lightship LV-15 1838 1879 Stratford Shoal (1837 – 1877)
Relief (1877 – 1879)
Replaced by Stratford Shoal Light in 1877;
Used as a barracks for workers building the Great Beds Light in 1880;
Sold at public auction in December 1880 for $1,010
[B] [18]
Lightship LV-16 1854 1935 Sandy Hook (1854 – 1891)
Relief (1891 – 1935)
[B] [19]
Lightship LV-17 1848 1891 Bartlett Reef (1848 – 1867)
Relief (1867 – 1877)
Eel Grass Shoal (1877 – 1882)
Relief (1882 – 1891)
Transferred to US Navy in 1891 for use as target practice. Sunk October 15, 1891. [B] [20]
Lightship LV-18 1839 1875 Five Fathom Bank (1839 – 1869)
Relief (1869 – 1875)
Transferred to US Navy in 1875 for use as target practice. Presumably sunk. [B] [21]
Lightship LV-19 c. 1845 1900 Cross Ledge (1845 – 1875)
Fourteen Foot Bank (1876 – 1886)
Ram Island Reef (1886 – 1894)
Relief (1894 – 1900)
May be the same ship as Lightship X.
Transferred to US Navy in 1900 for use as target practice. Presumably sunk.
[B] [22]
Lightship LV-20 1867 1923 Relief (1867 – 1868)
Wreck of Scotland (1868 – 1870)
Relief (1870 – 1876)
Wreck of Scotland (1876 – 1880)
Relief (1880 – 1886)
Wreck of Oregon (1886)
Relief (1886 – 1918)
Cross Rip (1918 – 1922)
Relief (1923)
Sold in 1923 and used by rumrunners during Prohibition.
Grounded, abandoned, and eventually burned near Plymouth, Massachusetts.
[B] [23]
Lightship LV-21 1864 1880 Upper Cedar Point (1864 – 1867)
Willoughby Split (1867 – 1868)
Relief (1869 – 1871)
Wreck of Weehawken (1871 – 1872)
Tybee Island Knoll (1872 – 1880)
[B] [24]
Lightship LV-22 c. 1846 1903 Relief (1846–Unknown)
York Split (1863–1864)
Wolf Trap Shoal (1864–1870)
Eel Grass Shoal (1871–1872)
Cornfield Point (1872–1882)
Relief (1884–1885)
Hog Island Shoal (1885–1901)
Relief (1901–1903)
Only lightship to be renumbered. See note. [C] [15][25]
Lightship LV-23 1862 1925 Smith Point (1862 – 1868)
Willoughby Split (1868 – 1872)
Relief (1872 – 1874)
Wreck of Scotland (1874 – 1876)
Relief (1876 – 1882)
Cornfield Point (1882 – 1892)
Relief (1892 – 1894)
Ram Island Reef (1894 – 1925)
Originally A. J. W. Applegarth, acquired by Lightship Service in 1862. [B] [26]
Lightship LV-24 1864 1869 Lower Cedar Point (1864 – 1867)
York Spit (1867 – 1870)
Relief (1870 – 1874)
Winter Quarter Shoal (1874 – 1875)
Relief (1875 – 1889)
[B] [27]
Lightship LV-25 1827 1884 Hooper Straight (1827 – 1867)
Relief (1867 – 1870)
Choptank River entrance (1870 – 1871)
Eel Grass Shoal (1872 – 1877)
Relief (1877 – 1884)
[B] [28]
Lightship LV-28 1864 1906 Bowlers Rock (1864 – 1868)
Relief (1868 – 1869)
Galveston (1870 – 1906)
[B] [29]
Lightship LV-29 1865 1915 Frying Pan Shoal (1865 – 1871)
Martins Industry (1871 – 1875)
Frying Pan Shoal (1875 – 1877)
Relief (1877 – 1880)
Martins Industry (1880 – 1887)
Relief (1887 – 1888)
Frying Pan Shoal (1888 – 1892)
Relief (1893 – 1906)
Martins Industry (1906 – 1911)
Relief (1911 – 1915)
[B] [30]
Lightship LV-30 1863 1871 Rattlesnake Shoal (1863 – 1871) [B] [31]
Lightship LV-31 1865 1871 Wreck of Weehawken (1865 – 1871) Formerly James Gray, commissioned in the Confederate States Navy as CSS Lady Davis. Captured by the USN in 1865, stripped, and transferred into lightship service. [B] [32]
Lightship LV-32 1863 1890 Frying Pan Shoal (1863 – 1864)
Martins Industry (1864 – 1871)
Relief (1871 – 1877)
Frying Pan Shoal (1877 – 1883)
Relief (1883 – 1886)
Rattlesnake Shoal (1886 – 1889)
Relief (1889 – 1890)
[B] [33]
Lightship LV-33 1857 1872 Relief (1857 – 1861)
Martins Industry (1862 – 1864)
Relief (1864 – 1868)
Fishing Rip (1868 – 1869)
Tybee Island Knoll (1869 – 1872)
[B] [34]
Lightship LV-34 1866 1924 Relief (1866 – 1876)
Frying Pan Shoal (1871 – 1875)
Martins Industry (1876 – 1880)
Rattlesnake Shoal (1880 – 1886)
Martins Industry (1887 – 1892)
Rattlesnake Shoal (1892 – 1894)
Charleston (1894 – 1924)
Sunk due to an accident at Wilmington, North Carolina in 1872, recovered.
Driven ashore at Long Island Beach, South Carolina during a hurricane, August 28, 1892. Hauled back to sea in 1894.
[B] [35]
Lightship LV-35 1858 1862 Martins Industry (1858 – 1862) Sunk by the Confederate States Navy in the Savannah River, 1862. Raised in 1866 and intended for lightship duty, but subsequently found to be too damaged. [D] [36]
Lightship LV-37 1869 1893 Five Fathoms Bank (1869 – 1876)
Winter Quarter Shoal (1876 – 1888)
Relief (1888)
Fenwick Island Shoal (1888 – 1892)
Relief (1892 – 1893)
April 24, 1874: liberty boat sank near Cold Spring Bar, New Jersey killing four crewmembers.
Sank on station, August 4, 1893. Four crewmen lost.
[E] [37]
Lightship LV-38 1870 1892 Relief (1870 – 1871)
Rattlesnake Shoal (1871 – 1880)
Relief (1881 – 1883)
Frying Pan Shoal (1883 – 1888)
Relief (1888 – 1889)
Rattlesnake Shoal (1889 – 1892)
[E] [38]
Lightship LV-39 1875 1935 Vineyard Sound (1875 – 1876)
Five Fathom Bank (1876 – 1877)
Relief (1877 – 1897)
Brenton Reef (1897 – 1935)
Struck and damanaged by USS Iowa, August 1905. Sold after 1935. Sank in 1975 near Beverly, Massachusetts. [39]
Lightship LV-71 1897 1918 Diamond Shoals (1897 – 1918) The only lightship sunk by enemy action. [40]
Footnotes
  • ^ A. Name assigned retroactively in 1938. During her years in service, this ship was referred to exclusively by her station name.
  • ^ B. Name/hull number assigned between 1867–70. Previously, she was referred to exclusively by her station name.
  • ^ C. LV-12 was assigned to two ships. From circa 1867 to 1871, LV-12 was the former Guthrie and LV-22 was an unnamed Fifth District relief vessel. In 1871, old LV-12 was decommissioned and LV-22 was renumbered LV-12. For clarity, this list refers to her as LV-22 exclusively.
  • ^ D. Name/hull number assigned between 1867–68 in anticipation of her return to service, but she was found not fit, condemned, and sold.
  • ^ E. Either LV-37 or LV-38 was the first lightship to have launched with a LV designation. Except for the anomalously numbered LV-10 (which would have been 43), all subsequent US lightships were numbered sequentially.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Flint, Willard. A History of U.S. Lightships. p. 2. 
  2. ^ Flint, Willard. A History of U.S. Lightships. p. 19. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av "Early U.S. Lightships". U.S. Coast Guard Lightships. United States Coast Guard. June 18, 2008. Retrieved August 24, 2008. 
  4. ^ "Vessel Designation: LV1". U.S. Coast Guard Lightships. United States Coast Guard. June 18, 2008. Retrieved August 24, 2008. 
  5. ^ "Vessel Designation: LV2". U.S. Coast Guard Lightships. United States Coast Guard. June 18, 2008. Retrieved August 24, 2008. 
  6. ^ "Vessel Designation: LV3". U.S. Coast Guard Lightships. United States Coast Guard. June 18, 2008. Retrieved August 24, 2008. 
  7. ^ "Vessel Designation: LV4". U.S. Coast Guard Lightships. United States Coast Guard. June 18, 2008. Retrieved August 24, 2008. 
  8. ^ "Vessel Designation: LV5". U.S. Coast Guard Lightships. United States Coast Guard. June 18, 2008. Retrieved August 24, 2008. 
  9. ^ "Vessel Designation: LV6". U.S. Coast Guard Lightships. United States Coast Guard. June 18, 2008. Retrieved August 24, 2008. [dead link]
  10. ^ "Vessel Designation: LV7". U.S. Coast Guard Lightships. United States Coast Guard. June 18, 2008. Retrieved August 24, 2008. 
  11. ^ "Vessel Designation: LV8". U.S. Coast Guard Lightships. United States Coast Guard. June 18, 2008. Retrieved August 24, 2008. 
  12. ^ "Vessel Designation: LV9". U.S. Coast Guard Lightships. United States Coast Guard. June 18, 2008. Retrieved August 24, 2008. [dead link]
  13. ^ "Vessel Designation: LV10". U.S. Coast Guard Lightships. United States Coast Guard. June 18, 2008. Retrieved August 24, 2008. 
  14. ^ "Vessel Designation: LV11". U.S. Coast Guard Lightships. United States Coast Guard. June 18, 2008. Retrieved August 24, 2008. 
  15. ^ a b "Vessel Designation: LV12". U.S. Coast Guard Lightships. United States Coast Guard. June 18, 2008. Retrieved August 24, 2008. 
  16. ^ "Vessel Designation: LV13". U.S. Coast Guard Lightships. United States Coast Guard. June 18, 2008. Retrieved August 24, 2008. 
  17. ^ "Vessel Designation: LV14". U.S. Coast Guard Lightships. United States Coast Guard. June 18, 2008. Retrieved August 24, 2008. 
  18. ^ "Vessel Designation: LV15". U.S. Coast Guard Lightships. United States Coast Guard. June 18, 2008. Retrieved August 24, 2008. 
  19. ^ "Vessel Designation: LV16". U.S. Coast Guard Lightships. United States Coast Guard. June 18, 2008. Retrieved August 24, 2008. 
  20. ^ "Vessel Designation: LV17". U.S. Coast Guard Lightships. United States Coast Guard. June 18, 2008. Retrieved August 24, 2008. 
  21. ^ "Vessel Designation: LV18". U.S. Coast Guard Lightships. United States Coast Guard. June 18, 2008. Retrieved August 24, 2008. 
  22. ^ "Vessel Designation: LV19". U.S. Coast Guard Lightships. United States Coast Guard. June 18, 2008. Retrieved August 24, 2008. 
  23. ^ "Vessel Designation: LV20". U.S. Coast Guard Lightships. United States Coast Guard. June 18, 2008. Retrieved August 24, 2008. 
  24. ^ "Vessel Designation: LV21". U.S. Coast Guard Lightships. United States Coast Guard. June 18, 2008. Retrieved August 24, 2008. 
  25. ^ "Eel Grass Shoal Lightship Station History". United States Coast Guard Lightship Sailors Association. October 23, 2006. Retrieved July 19, 2008. 
  26. ^ "Vessel Designation: LV23". U.S. Coast Guard Lightships. United States Coast Guard. June 18, 2008. Retrieved August 24, 2008. 
  27. ^ "Vessel Designation: LV24". U.S. Coast Guard Lightships. United States Coast Guard. June 18, 2008. Retrieved August 24, 2008. 
  28. ^ "Vessel Designation: LV25". U.S. Coast Guard Lightships. United States Coast Guard. June 18, 2008. Retrieved August 24, 2008. 
  29. ^ "Vessel Designation: LV28". U.S. Coast Guard Lightships. United States Coast Guard. June 18, 2008. Retrieved August 24, 2008. 
  30. ^ "Vessel Designation: LV29". U.S. Coast Guard Lightships. United States Coast Guard. June 18, 2008. Retrieved August 24, 2008. 
  31. ^ "Vessel Designation: LV30". U.S. Coast Guard Lightships. United States Coast Guard. June 18, 2008. Retrieved August 24, 2008. 
  32. ^ "Vessel Designation: LV31". U.S. Coast Guard Lightships. United States Coast Guard. June 18, 2008. Retrieved August 24, 2008. 
  33. ^ "Vessel Designation: LV32". U.S. Coast Guard Lightships. United States Coast Guard. June 18, 2008. Retrieved August 24, 2008. 
  34. ^ "Vessel Designation: LV33". U.S. Coast Guard Lightships. United States Coast Guard. June 18, 2008. Retrieved August 24, 2008. 
  35. ^ "Vessel Designation: LV34". U.S. Coast Guard Lightships. United States Coast Guard. June 18, 2008. Retrieved August 24, 2008. 
  36. ^ "Vessel Designation: LV35". U.S. Coast Guard Lightships. United States Coast Guard. June 18, 2008. Retrieved August 24, 2008. 
  37. ^ "Vessel Designation: LV37". U.S. Coast Guard Lightships. United States Coast Guard. June 18, 2008. Retrieved August 24, 2008. 
  38. ^ "Vessel Designation: LV38". U.S. Coast Guard Lightships. United States Coast Guard. July 28, 2008. Retrieved September 4, 2008. 
  39. ^ "Vessel Designation: LV39". U.S. Coast Guard Lightships. United States Coast Guard. July 28, 2008. Retrieved September 4, 2008. 
  40. ^ http://wikimapia.org/1223202/Wreck-of-Diamond-Shoal-Lightship-No-71

References[edit]