Lightship Ambrose

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
The Lightship Ambrose (LV87) is open to visitors at the South Street Seaport.

Lightship Ambrose was the name given to multiple lightships that served as the sentinel beacon marking Ambrose Channel, New York Harbor's main shipping channel.

The first lightstation was established south of the Ambrose Channel off of Sandy Hook, NJ in 1823. From 1823 through 1967, several ships served the Ambrose Channel station; each was referred to as Lightship Ambrose and bore the station's name being painted on its side. In 1906, the lighship serving this station was relocated closer to the center of the Ambrose Channel.[1] On 24 August 1967, the Ambrose station lightship was replaced by a Texas Tower, the Ambrose Light.

United States Lightship LV-16 (Sandy Hook)[edit]

LV-16 served as a mark in the 1887 America's Cup race.

A sail-schooner built of white oak with copper and brass fastenings, Sandy Hook marked the south edge of the Ambrose Channel for 37 years, from 1854 to 1891. She was assigned the number 16 in 1862, prior to which she was known simply as the Sandy Hook. Sandy Hook was equipped with 2 lanterns, each with 8 oil lamps and reflectors, as well as a hand rung bell for a fog warning. A Thiers automatic bilge pump, ventilator, and fog signal were installed in 1872; however, the fog signal was found to be "unsatisfactory" and was removed.[2]

The Sandy Hook (LV 51) in the late 1890s

Two collisions were recorded during her time in service, the first in 1874 with the steamer Charleston, and the second in 1888 with the British barque Star of the East.

United States Lightship LV-51 (Sandy Hook)[edit]

Constructed in 1892, the Sandy Hook (LV-51) served post from 1894 to 1908. This steam engine-powered ship was the first US lightvessel to have an all-steel hull and fastenings and the first to use electric lights; she was also the last ship to hold the southerly post on the southern side of the channel, near Sandy Hook. After 1908, she was reassigned to relief duty. On 24 April 1919, she was rammed and sunk by a Standard Oil barge while relieving the Cornfield Point Lightship (LV-14). As a result of this incident, Standard Oil was forced to pay for the construction of LV111, which served as the Lightship Ambrose from 1932 to 1952.

United States Lightship LV-87 / WAL-512 (Ambrose Channel / Ambrose)[edit]

The Lightship Ambrose (LV87), built 1908, served her station until 1932 when she was reassigned to serve as the Lightship Scotland, a station much closer to Sandy Hook, New Jersey. She would be the first lightship to serve in the relocated position nearer the center of the channel, and in 1921 would receive the first radio beacon in either the channel or the US, greatly assisting navigation of the congested channel in dense fog. She would also be the last steam-powered vessel to hold this post. She moved around to various stations, but has kept the name of her most famous station, Ambrose.

In 1964, she was retired from the Coast Guard, and in 1968, she was given to the South Street Seaport Museum in Lower Manhattan, and moored at Pier 16 on the East River.[3] In 1989, the lightship was declared a National Historic Landmark.[4][5]

United States Lightship LV-111 / WAL-533 (Ambrose)[edit]

The station was manned by LV111 from 1932 to 1952, a period of time encompassing all of World War II. This would be the first diesel powered ship to mark the Ambrose Channel. Although the station was active throughout World War II, the Ambrose was never armed,[6] but did gain a radar in 1945.

The Ambrose was involved in a number of collisions during this time. In September 1935, she was rammed by the Grace Liner Santa Barbara, with both ships sustaining heavy damage. In January 1950, it was "brushed" in heavy fog by an unidentified vessel, suffering damage to the radio antenna and losing her spare anchor. Eleven weeks later in March the Santa Monica, another Grace Line vessel, rammed the Ambrose in a dense fog, rupturing her hull. She was later repaired, and redeployed to Portland, Maine. Retired from lightship duty in 1969, she passed through several owners before being sold for scrap in 1984.[7]

United States Lightship WLV-613 (Ambrose)[edit]

In 1952, the Lightship Ambrose (WLV 613) was commissioned and became the last lightship to mark the Ambrose Channel when she was replaced by a Texas Tower lightstation on 24 August 1967. She was reassigned as a relief ship on the Massachusetts coastline from 1967–75. After being renamed Relief (1967 to 1980) and then the Nantucket II (1980 to 1983) she was reassigned to Nantucket Shoals. She alternated with her sister ship, the Lightship Nantucket (WLV 612), on station relieving each other approximately every 21 days and was retired in 1983 after 31 years of service. WLV 613 had various assignments following her retirement including being used for public relation events and law enforcement missions. She was sold to New England Historic Seaport on 7 July 1984 and was present for the rededication ceremony for the Statue of Liberty in 1986. By 2006 she was sold to the Wareham Steamship Corporation and was berthed on Main Street in Wareham, Massachusetts.


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Lightship No. 87 "Ambrose" National Historic Landmark Study". Retrieved 2008-10-08.
  4. ^ "LIGHTSHIP NO. 87 "AMBROSE"". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. 2007-09-14. Archived from the original on 2012-09-29.
  5. ^ Kevin Foster (5 August 1988). "National Register of Historic Places Registration: Lightship No. 87 "Ambrose"" (pdf). National Park Service. and Accompanying 5 photos, exterior and interior, from 1908-1988 (540 KiB)
  6. ^
  7. ^

External links[edit]

Media related to Ambrose (ship, 1907) at Wikimedia Commons