United States lightship Overfalls (LV-118)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
US lightship WAL 539
WAL 539 painted for "OVERFALLS" station, docked in Lewes, Delaware in 2015
United States
Name: LV 118
Operator: United States Lighthouse Service/United States Coast Guard
Builder: Rice Brothers, East Boothbay, Maine
Cost: $223,900
Launched: 4 June 1938
Commissioned: 11 September 1938
Decommissioned: 7 November 1972
Status: Museum in Lewes, Delaware
General characteristics
Type: Lightvessel
Displacement: 412 short tons (374 t)
Length: 114 ft 9 in (34.98 m)
Beam: 26 ft (7.9 m)
Draft: 13 ft 4 in (4.06 m)
Installed power: Cooper-Bessemer 8 cylinder air-start Diesel engine, 400 bhp (300 kW)
Propulsion: Single shaft, reduction gear, 7 ft 2 in (2.18 m) propeller
Speed: 9 knots (17 km/h; 10 mph)
Crew: 14
Lightship WAL-539
United States lightship Overfalls (LV-118) is located in Delaware
United States lightship Overfalls (LV-118)
LocationLewes, Delaware
Coordinates38°46′40.5″N 75°8′28″W / 38.777917°N 75.14111°W / 38.777917; -75.14111Coordinates: 38°46′40.5″N 75°8′28″W / 38.777917°N 75.14111°W / 38.777917; -75.14111
ArchitectRice Brothers
NRHP reference No.89000006
Significant dates
Added to NRHP16 February 1989[1]
Designated NHL14 June 2011

Lightship Overfalls (LV-118) (later renumbered WAL-539) was the last lightvessel constructed for the United States Lighthouse Service before the Service became part of the United States Coast Guard.[2] She is currently preserved in Lewes, Delaware as a museum ship.


This ship was built to replace LV-44, badly damaged in the New England Hurricane of 1938, for the Cornfield Point station.[3] Patterned after the LV-112,[2] she has a hull unlike that of any of her sisters; in effect, a single-ship class.[4] She is the last riveted-hull lightship built for the United States Lighthouse Service, all subsequent ships having welded hulls. Propulsion was diesel, with a set of diesel generators and compressors providing power for the beacon and auxiliaries.[2][5] The light was a duplex 375 mm (14.8 in) lantern on a single mast, at 57 ft (17 m) above the water line.[5] Dual diaphones were provided for a fog signal, as well as a bell and radiobeacon.[2] A radar unit was installed in 1943.[5] The crew complement was fourteen, to serve on a two weeks on/one week off basis.[5] When the lighthouse service was merged into the coast guard in 1939, she was renumbered WAL 539.[2]

LV 118 / WAL 539 served at these stations:[2]

1938-1957: Cornfield Point, Connecticut
1958-1962: Cross Rip, Massachusetts
1962-1972: Boston, Massachusetts

Unlike most US lightships WAL 539 remained on station during World War II.[4] A severe storm in December 1970 damaged the ship, leading to her decommissioning on November 7, 1972.[6] Upon retirement WAL 539 was donated to the Lewes Historical Society and placed on display in Lewes, Delaware, painted for the "OVERFALLS" station, though she never served there.[4] The ship's condition deteriorated and a failed attempt in 1999 to sell her led to the formation of a separate group, the Overfalls Maritime Museum Foundation, to take over the maintenance and restore the vessel.[7] She remains in Lewes and is available for tours.[7]

The lightship was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989, and in 2011 was further designated a National Historic Landmark.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. January 23, 2007.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Vessel Designation: LV 118/WAL 539". U.S. Coast Guard Lightships & Those of the U.S. Lighthouse Service. United States Coast Guard. Retrieved 2010-11-16.
  3. ^ "U.S. Coast Guard Lightships: LV 44". United States Coast Guard. Retrieved 2010-11-18.
  4. ^ a b c "National Historic Landmark nomination" (pdf). National Park Service. Retrieved 2017-12-27.
  5. ^ a b c d "Specifications and Other Facts". Overfalls Maritime Museum Foundation. Retrieved 2012-09-05.
  6. ^ "About the Lightship Overfalls: History". Overfalls Maritime Museum Foundation. Retrieved 2012-09-04.
  7. ^ a b "The History of the OMMF and the Lightship's more recent adventures". Overfalls Maritime Museum Foundation. Archived from the original on 2009-02-17. Retrieved 2010-11-19.
  8. ^ "National Register of Historic Places listings for June 24, 2011". National Park Service. 24 June 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-24.

External links[edit]