United States lightship Portsmouth (LV-101)

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Lightship Portsmouth (LV 101)
US Lighthouse serviceUnited States
Name: Portsmouth
Builder: Pusey & Jones
Laid down: 1915
Launched: 12 January 1916[1]
Acquired: 2 September 1916
Decommissioned: 23 March 1964
In service: 1916
Out of service: 1963
  • LV-101 (1916–1939)
  • WAL-524 (1939–)
Status: Museum ship
General characteristics
Type: Lightship
Displacement: 360 long tons (366 t)
Length: 101 ft 10 in (31.04 m)
Beam: 25 ft (7.6 m)
Draft: 11 ft 4 in (3.45 m)

Meitz & Weiss 4-cylinder kerosene engine, 200 hp (149 kW)

1944: Cooper-Bessemer 315HP Six Cylinder Diesel

8 knots (15 km/h; 9.2 mph) (4 Cylinder)

8.2 knots (15.2 km/h; 9.4 mph) (6 Cylinder)
Armament: None
Lightship No. 101, Portsmouth
United States lightship Portsmouth (LV-101) is located in Virginia
United States lightship Portsmouth (LV-101)
LocationPortsmouth, Virginia
Coordinates36°50′19″N 76°17′55″W / 36.83861°N 76.29861°W / 36.83861; -76.29861Coordinates: 36°50′19″N 76°17′55″W / 36.83861°N 76.29861°W / 36.83861; -76.29861
ArchitectPusey & Jones Lightship; US Lighthouse Establishment
NRHP reference #89001080[2]
VLR #124-0102
Significant dates
Added to NRHP5 May 1989
Designated NHL5 May 1989[4]
Designated VLRMarch 19, 1997[3]

United States Lightship 101, known as Portsmouth, was first stationed at Cape Charles, Virginia. Today she is at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Museum in Portsmouth, Virginia. Portsmouth never had a lightship station; however, when the vessel was dry docked there as a museum, she took on the pseudonym Portsmouth. A National Historic Landmark, she is one of a small number of surviving lightships.[5]


Lightship Portsmouth (LV-101) was built in 1915 by Pusey & Jones. She first served as Charles in the Chesapeake Bay outside Cape Charles, Virginia from 1916 until 1924. After that assignment Portsmouth served just over a year as the relief ship for other lightships in her district. She was then moved to Overfalls, Delaware, where she was stationed from 1926 to 1951 as Overfalls. In 1939 when the United States Lighthouse Service was absorbed into the United States Coast Guard she was reclassified WAL-524, but still kept a station name on her hull. During World War II the vessel was not armed, however many other lightships were. In 1951 LV-101/WAL 524 was reassigned to Stonehorse Shoal, Massachusetts, where she served until decommissioned in 1963. The lightship then sat in harbor at Portland, Maine, until her fate had been decided.

On 3 September 1964 LV-101 was donated to the City of Portsmouth, Virginia, to become a part of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Museum. Portsmouth was dry docked at the London Pier in Portsmouth. Although she was never stationed there, she has taken on the city's name. In 1989, Portsmouth was designated a National Historic Landmark and is open for visitation.

Name and station assignments[edit]

  • Charles, Cape Charles, Virginia (1916–1924)
  • Relief, Relief 5th District (1925–1926)
  • Overfalls, Overfalls, Delaware (1926–1951)
  • Stonehorse, Stonehorse Shoal, Massachusetts (1951–1963)
  • CrossRip, Cross Rip Shoal, Massachusetts (1963–1964)

Other lightships of Chesapeake Bay[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Vessel Designation: LV 101 / WAL 524". U.S. Coast Guard Lightships & Those of the U.S. Lighthouse Service. United States Coast Guard. Retrieved 2009-12-16.
  2. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. April 15, 2008.
  3. ^ "Virginia Landmarks Register". Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Archived from the original on 21 September 2013. Retrieved 19 March 2013.
  4. ^ "Lightship No. 101 "Portsmouth"". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-06-26.
  5. ^ Foster, Kevin J. (5 August 1988). "National Register of Historic Places Registration Form / Lightship No. 101" (pdf). National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-09-08.

External links[edit]