FLASH... SEE Primo #1 Lightship Sailors >>Main Page<< http://communities.msn.com/USCGLightshipSailors/_whatsnew.msnw
See the Stonehorse page too!
Any future or past crew members out there?
Through the efforts of dedicated volunteers, the ship WAS opened as a museum on weekends through the Summer.
ABOUT THE SHIP...........................................
Lightship 612 was completed in 1950 at the Coast Guard Yard and sailed for the West Coast where she served as San Francisco Lightship for 18 years and then for a short period (1969-1971) as Blunts Reef Lightship. The ship then returned to the Atlantic Coast, the only lightship to have transited the Panama Canal both ways. 612 served as Portland Lightship, 1971-1975, and then as Nantucket II. In 1983 the last lightship station, Nantucket, was discontinued and 612 had the unique distinction to become a white cutter, sent to the Caribbean to act as a fueling station for the SES (surface effect) vessels engaged in drug interdiction.. When this assignment ended, the ship returned to Boston and was decommissioned in 1985, concluding 35 years of Coast Guard service.
The ship was purchased in the same year by the Boston Marine Exchange, an educational organization with high aspirations and low funding. The operation soon folded and the ship was returned to the GSA. She was then purchased by the State of MA (Metropolitan District Commission) and was scheduled to become a floating museum. Again, money became a problem and the ship was set aside, moored at the marina in Marina Bay, Quincy, MA. There now appeared a group calling themselves
the "Friends of Lightship Nantucket" (FOLSN) With the approval
of the MDC, this group began to restore the ship and to open her to the public.
This was a very successful enterprise and just as the future of the ship looked
very good, the MDC withdrew support, turned FOLSN away and put the vessel up for
disposal. The FOLSN group opposed this move vigorously. Even as the ship was put
up for bid on Ebay.
FOLSN protested vehemently. Serious bids were made by various scrap metal companies and it looked like the end of the line. At the very last minute, the ship was saved by a prominent Boston statesman, Bill Golden.
So what might have been the end is now really a new beginning. Mr Golden is presently converting 612 into a private yacht. Completion of this project is scheduled for mid-2002.
Assignment to duty aboard a lightship was not always looked upon with great enthusiasm. Considering the time spent at sea in sometimes terrible conditions, this was hardly a surprize. There were, however, a few hardy souls who not only enjoyed that type of life, and some even sought it out. In fact, there were certain conditions that were highly desirable.
First of all, lightships were considered "semi-isolated" duty and therefore elligible for certain benefits. The compensatory leave program heads the list as most important. For every two days you were aboard the ship 'on station' you earned a credit of one day compensatory leave. This was in addition to the 30 days per year of regular leave that you normally received. Here's how it worked.
Every two weeks a tender made a supply / personnel run out to the lightship station, weather permitting. On arrival they would pass water and fuel hoses and their workboat came alongside with commissary stores, a sack of mail and our returning crewmembers. At the end of a very busy hour or two, the last boat would depart with our crewmembers going ashore.
In this manner we rotated shore leave with 1/3 of our crew ashore and the other 2/3rds aboard ship. This worked out to be 29 days aboard and 13 days on leave. If you ran short of compensatory leave you would draw on your regular leave account. This arrangement was very attractive to certain individuals whose families resided a long ways away like the opposite coast. With 13 days off, they could travel quite a distance and return. We liked to look at it as two weeks off every month.
Then there were the recluse types that just liked the peace and solitude. Every lightship had one or two of them that just stayed on the ship and didn't go ashore for months. Others did it to save money. Another benefit was the extra allowance for food. With the so-called increased ration we could be more selective in the variety and quality in ordering commissary stores. Generally an effort was made to assign good cooks to lightships. This together with the increased ration resulted in an excellent bill of fare and thus a contented crew.
The daily routine was much like any other Coast Guard ship. Bridge and engine room watches were usually 4 hours on and 8 hours off and day work was conducted from 0800-1600. All hands enjoyed sufficient time off to pursue personal interests such as hobby, reading or just relaxing and watching TV. The total authorized complement of lightship 612 was 19. The captain was generally a warrant or chief warrant with a chief bosun mate for an exec. A chief engineman was in charge of engineering and faced the challenge of keeping all the ships machinery in top operating condition for periods in excess of one year. Topside maintenance also had it's difficulties for deckwork on a ship at sea is not usually an easy proposition. To keep the ship's appearance in accord with strict Coast Guard standards meant working outside in less than ideal conditions. Rain, fog and violent motion of the ship were frequent obstacles.
The one man bridge watch had many duties. He was a lookout, radio watch, radar watch and a log keeper. His most pressing objective was the radio beacon which required checking every thirty minutes. This was necessary in order to keep the transmitted signal precisely on time to the split second and to insure the signal was at the proper strength. The bridge watch also recorded weather every hour. Every four hours a weather summary was sent by radio to the U.S. Weather Bureau to assist them in making forecasts.
The engine room watch, also one man, was equally busy. One main generator was always in operation. If fog prevailed, the high recovery air compressor ran. A steam heat boiler operated most of the time. There were fuel and water soundings to take, logs to enter and always machinery under overhaul and repair. The engineering spaces in lightship 612 are arranged into two engine rooms, the forward for on station requirements and the smaller aft for main propulsion. The four main engines are situated around the central gear box, or transmission. This installation is often called a 671 quad and is a very flexible plant. Any one or any combination of the four engines can be placed on line to turn the shaft. Although life on station was usually fairly routine, there was always something unusual cropping up to keep things from getting boring. These things were not always pleasant. Probably the worst was the arrival of a severe storm as relief day neared. The prospect of conditions being too rough to permit transfer of personnel was very depressing. If the tender arrived and found sea conditions beyond the limits of safe boat transfer, they would pass us by. Sometimes the conditions were so violent that the tender remained in port. Either way, the liberty party was flat out of luck.
Fog was another unpleasantness. It could set in thicker than glue and remain for days on end. Our radio beacon was shifted to continuous operation and the mighty F-2-T diaphone bellowed every thirty seconds until we all became numb. Sleep was impossible and conversation limited to the thirty second intervals between blasts. Worst yet was the specter of being run down by some ship too intent on homing into our beacon. The most recent disaster took place on June 24, 1960 when the cargo ship SS Green Bay blundered into lightship 505 which was then relieving Ambrose station. In less than ten minutes the lightship was gone but the alert crew had anticipated the crash and was able to abandon ship with all saved and no injuries. Not so lucky was lightship 117 on Nantucket station in 1934, cut in half by the SS Olympic ( sister ship of the Titanic ), seven out of the eleven man crew were lost.
CHBOSN J.B. Gill, USCG ret. Commanding Officer 60-63
Sorry don`t have much on Nantucket Lightship as far as her history goes, except think the vessel on that station has been hit and sunk once or twice by transiting vessels . Guess they`d home in on her radio beacon and come too close. Had to monitor her r/b from NMF once every six hour watch to make sure it was putting out, and sending right characteristics etc. (four dashes if I remember correctly)
She was pretty important lightship in her day.
Would have loved to have had lightship duty, but `alas most of my time in CG was on the large(for the CG) cutters mostly manning the old wxsta`s in deep water, also during my time in they didn`t call for an RM`s billet. I went up to `www.fredsplace.org` the coastie web site and found a list of Lightship Sailors and saw the name Jim Gill (email@example.com) who is an ex-CO of Nantucket LV WLV612 60-63 and thought I`d pass along his e-mail address so you could maybe give him a query?
We on the deepwater cutters used to call guys on lightsta`s and lightvessels, "Wickies" for when the old U S Light House Service was the controlling authority for them, and we also called the guys on Lifeboat Stations "Sand peeps". Guess when the USCG took overthose duties and intergrated them with the regular CG it was quite a shock from what I heard. Some of those guys would spend their whole career on one station sometimes, and to get bounced around on the ships for duty , and anywhere else in CG, wasn`t quite the same.
I can remember some of the old guys with the "Surfman" rating used to wear a chiefs uniform with crossed oars on their hat for insignia. After they retired Boatswain Mates took over their duties.
We called the LV`s The Baker Brothers as all their c/s were NNB__ with a ltr for last part, and handled all their communications at NMF ship/shore, until in later years their Group Commanders handled it.
NMF used to have to monitor every Radio Beacon from Quoddy head ME to Pt Judith RI once every six hour watch and it used to take about 32 mins to catch em all, a real pain, but as with the other, Group Commanders took over the monitoring. We`d only go up if a ship reported an outage, then confirming an outage would get the Groups on it. That radsta used to be busy with a three man watch, two ops and supvr`r, a real rat race in old days. One operator 500/8280(later 8364) and CW bdcsts, One operator 2674 CW, 2182, 2670, 2694 phone. Supervisor point to point CW with Argentia Nfld, (speaker as were some others making it noyzeee!) ,and all landline circuits (TTY), plus any special monitoring, tabbing tfc, and so on.
Sometimes MAYHEM if couple or more distress going on. Hotline fone Fm to commcen/sar at Boston Custom house tower.......
Later on they added an AMVER psn with another operator making it a four man watch which helped, and still in later years after I was long retired they had seven man watches. Used to stop in for a visit after I`d hada few at the VFW on some nights and couldn`t believe the light workload they had......Oh well, nowadays there aren`t even any radstas to be stationed on except one in Frisco, and one in Norfolk, so was lucky to have had a job I enjoyed during my lifetime, hi.
Well, am sure off on a sidetrack from your lightship querry Dave, but what the hell.....Go up to `fredsplace` sometime and nose around, and you might find some stuff you`d be interested in Dave.... =
de Bob - W1NMF - www.radiocom.net/NMF
Had enough? Try a REAL Lightship page, the #1
How about the USCG Glacier from Operation Deep Freeze, Antarctic days?
More LightShip Info...