Learning History Through Photography
A Photograph Subject Becomes an Interesting Lesson in HistoryIt is very rare that I am ever out anywhere without my camera, not only because I am a parent and love taking pictures of my daughter for memories and to share with friends and family, but also because I have a passion for photography.
Yesterday afternoon I tool a walk with my youngest daughter to go explore our new surroundings since we moved and while out we went to go explore this run down and decrepit ship, the Nantucket, a lightship.
After taking several photos of the lightship Nantucket, I shot various other subjects in the area including a LARC LX. Upon returning home, while viewing all the photographs shot that day, I began searching the net for information on both the lightship Nantucket and the LARC LX, both of which I find very interesting, both of which offer lessons in history with some fascinating stories and although the two photo subjects are unrelated to each other, they're together in this post due to the fact that both were photographed at the same location on the same day and that both are of historical interest.
After editing the photographs, I shared them on my facebook profiles to share with friends and family. After doing so, because I really love how the photographs turned out, and because I find the history associated with the subjects fascinating, I thought perhaps this would be a great topic to write about today on my blog and share my photos with you to see.
Nantucket Lightship WLV 613
|Lightship Nantucket WLV 613. Agawam River, Wareham, Massachusetts|
The Lightship Nantucket or Nantucket Shoals was the name given to the lightvessel which marked the hazardous Nantucket Shoals south of Nantucket Island. Several ships have been commissioned and served at the Nantucket Shoals lightship station and have been called Nantucket. It was common for a lightship to be reassigned and then renamed for its new station.
The Nantucket station was the most significant US lightship station for transatlantic voyages. Established in 1854, the station marked the limits of the dangerous Nantucket Shoals. She was the last lightship seen by vessels departing the United States, as well as the first beacon seen on approach. The position was 40 miles southeast of Nantucket Island, the farthest lightship in North America, and experienced clockwise rotary tidal currents
The Lightship Nantucket WLV 613 was the last Lightship on station in the US and on Nantucket Station.
The keel for WLV-613, the last lightship built in the United States, was laid on February 4th, 1952 at the U.S. Coast Guard yard in Curtis Bay, Maryland, and six months to the day later the vessel was formally launched. Following successful sea trials, the lightship was commissioned in September of that year and sailed to its first assignment at Ambrose Station, marking the entrance to New York Harbor.
After just a year of service, WLV-613 underwent a transformation that made it unique amongst U.S. lightships: it received a tripod foremast topped by a cylindrical, lighthouse-style lantern room housing a new multi-catoptric biform optical apparatus, manufactured by Chance Brothers Ltd. of Birmingham, England. Capable of producing a light with an intensity varying from 250,000 to 5 million candlepower in three steps, the beacon made WLV-613 the brightest of all American lightships.
On June 24th of 1960, Relief Lightship LV 78 was temporarily anchored at Ambrose Station while WLV-613’s engines were being overhauled at Coast Guard Base St. George on Staten Island. Early that morning, the Green Bay was outbound from Port Newark, New Jersey loaded with 8,100 tons of general cargo. Shortly after the pilot, who had navigated the vessel out of the harbor in a very dense fog, boarded the pilot boat to return to port, the Green Bay captain steered his vessel towards the lightship, which according to radar was estimated to be about a mile distant.
At approximately the same moment, lookouts aboard the lightship and the cargo vessel vessels realized that the Green Bay was on a collision course with the lightship. The captain of the Green Bay immediately changed course and increased speed, but after realizing the lightship was too close to avoid a collision, he ordered the engines full astern. Meanwhile, aboard the lightship, the general alarm was sounded, and all nine crewmembers, seven of whom had been asleep, mustered to the weather deck, where they witnessed the bow of the Green Bay puncture the starboard side of the lightship between the letters “R” and “E” in RELIEF. As the forward momentum of the Green Bay stopped and it backed away, water started pouring through the 12-foot-long and 3-foot-wide gash left in the lightship’s hull. The commanding officer aboard the lightship ordered his crew to abandon ship and seek refuge in a self-inflating rubber raft. Using their hands as paddles, the men tried to put as much distance between themselves and the lightship to avoid being struck by a mast or caught in the undertow of the sinking lightship.
While desperately trying to locate the Green Bay which had disappeared into the fog, the men in the life raft were nearly run over by the ocean liner Queen Elizabeth, whose crew failed to notice the men or hear their hand whistles. After over an hour on the water, the men aboard the life raft were finally located by a motor lifeboat launched by the Green Bay. A patrol boat took the men to the Coast Guard base on Staten Island, and later that afternoon, WLV-613, unable to travel under her own power, was towed out to the Ambrose Station to relieve a Coast Guard cutter that had been substituting as a lightship.
WLV-613 served at Ambrose Station until 1967, when a Texas-style tower, prefabricated in Norfolk, Virginia at a cost of approximately $2.4 million, was used to mark the station. On August 23rd, WLV-613 circled the new tower three times, and then left the station for the last time.
For the next twelve years, WLV-613 served as a Relief Lightship in Massachusetts before being designated Nantucket II in 1979 and assigned to serve alternating three-week assignments at the Nantucket Shoals Station with its sister ship WLV-612 (Nantucket I). These two lightships were the youngest lightships in the United States, and the Nantucket Shoals Station was the final active lightship station. At 2:30 a.m. on December 20th, 1983, WLV-613 relieved WLV-612 and at 8 a.m. that same day, a large navigational buoy officially relieved WLV-613, making it the last lightship to be in service in the United States. After its service as a lightship, WLV-613 participated in various law enforcement, security, and public relations missions until it was decommissioned and donated to the New England Historic Seaport in 1984 for use as a floating museum in Boston.
The non-profit New England Historic Seaport cared for the lightship until 1996 when the organization was amalgamated into another non-profit group, Schools for Children, which had no interest in maintaining the lightship. Instead, the vessel was offered for sale through National Ship Liquidators for $110,000 and probably would have had its identity as a lightship compromised if a group of concerned individuals hadn’t stepped in to purchase the lightship.
In 1998, WLV-613 was being cared for by Friends of the Lightship, a volunteer group with lots of spirit but little money, at Marina Bay in Quincy, when Jack Baker discovered the lightship. With no funds available for repairs, the vessel was likely going to be scrapped, so Baker stepped in and purchased the lightship. Baker originally thought he could get a group of volunteers to help refurbish the lightship, but when this plan didn’t work out, he personally funded a million-dollar-plus overhaul of the historic vessel.
The lightship was outfitted with a new keel, new plumbing and electrical work, tiled bathrooms, cabinetry, and cranberry carpeting. While the galley retains its gleaming stainless steel workspace and stove, the convenience of a modern refrigerator and a microwave was added. The engines and mushroom and Danforth anchors were all cleaned and painted to make the vessel seaworthy once more.
In September of 1999, WLV-613 sailed to New Bedford, under command of Norman Lemoine, to be on hand for the dedication of a memorial to those who lost their lives aboard lightships. The centerpiece of the memorial is a bell recovered in 1963 from the Vineyard Sound Lightship, which sank in the 1944 Hurricane. As part of the dedication activities, the public was allowed to tour WLV-613 and a modern Coast Guard cutter.
WLV-613 was placed on the market for $1.6 million in 2002, but apparently did not change hands as the lightship is still docked in Wareham, Massachusetts, where it has been berthed since being restored by Jack Baker.
Builder: USCG Yard, Curtis Bay, Maryland.
Length: 128' 0"
Displacement: 617 Tons
Illumination Apparatus: Duplex 375mm electric lens lantern mounted above gallery on foremast; 15, 000cp each light
Propulsion: Detroit - Quad arrangement
Fog Signal: Twin F2T diaphones mounted aft of pilot house
1952 – 1967: Ambrose Channel (NY)
1967 – 1979: Relief (MA)
1979 – 1983: Nantucket Shoals (MA)
CONSTRUCTION NOTES - MODIFICATIONS -- EQUIPMENT CHANGES & IMPROVEMENTS:
-1952-Feb 4, keel laid; Aug 4, launched (sponsored by Miss Cynthia Foss); commissioned Sep 12. Designated WAL 613 when built; changed to WLV in 1965-Used all-welded steel construction; transverse bulkheads corned to weather deck level; hawsepipes carried to weather deck before leading to chain locker; alternating current electrical system throughout-
-1953-Large cylindrical lantern housing installed on tripod foremast with a duplex revolving high intensity light of British design. Optic consisted of two sets of four 18 inch parabolic mirrors revolving as a unit around two 1000 watt lamps. Focal plane 56 ft above water. Light intensity variable from 250,000 to 5 million cp in 3 steps. Backup 500mm electric lens lantern mounted atop lantern housing. Fitted with CR-103 radar-
-1976-Electronic Radio Beacon timer installed.
-1977-Old SPN-11X radar replaced with AN/SPS-57
-1982-RACON installed on lantern housing; backup lantern moved to mainmast; this was the only lightship equipped with RACON-
Radio/visual call sign NOJE (1952 1983)
-1952: Oct 3, placed on Ambrose Channel station,-
-1953: Apr, Conventional illuminating apparatus was removed and replaced with multi--catoptric biform optical apparatus as described under Construction Notes. The equipment was supplied by Chance Brothers Ltd of Birmingham, England, and provided a high-intensity triple flash rated at 5.5 million candlepower with intermediate adjustable ranges from 250,000 cp to the peak value.
-1976: During the 1976 Nor'easter, 120 knot winds and 50 foot seas caused the WLV-613 to drag its 7000 ob mushroom anchor twelve miles.
-1983: Dec 20, WLV 613 relieved WLV 612 at 0230 remaining on the Nantucket station until approximately 0800 when replaced by a LNB. Therefore, even though not completing a full duty tour, WLV 613 was the last U.S. lightship to mark the Nantucket Shoals station.
RETIRED FROM LIGHTSHIP DUTY: 1983; AGE: 31
SUBSEQUENT DISPOSITION: After leaving station, participated in various law enforcement, security, and public relations missions; sold 7 July 1984 to New England Historic Seaport, for use as floating museum at Boston. Present at Statue of Liberty rededication ceremony 3/4 July 1986 New York Harbor. As of mid-2006 she was owned by Wareham Steamship Corporation and was berthed at Wareham, Massachusetts.
1952-1954: CWO Roy V Wood, CO
?-1950: WO Eric G Bragg, OIC
1965-1966: CWO J R Millard, CO
1967: CWO David N Russell, CO
1974-1976: CWO Robert C. Collins [Information provided by P. J. Markert]
1976-1978: CWO Henry J. Styron, CO
1978-1980: N E Lemoine, CO
1980-1982: CWO J L Williams, CO
1982-1984: CWO L I Culley, CO
Prior to taking the photos of the Nantucket Lightship WLV 613, my daughter and I visited on a previous occasion when I did not have my camera on me. We boarded the deck for a couple minutes and both of us felt a creepy sort of feeling, as if we were aboard an abandoned ghost ship. Imagine the danger the sailors faced out at sea during dangerous storms, especially when climbing up the lantern. Fascinating.
BARC / LARC LXLARC-LX (Lighter, Amphibious Resupply, Cargo, 60 ton), or as it was originally designated BARC (Barge, Amphibious Resupply, Cargo) is a welded steel hulled amphibious cargo vehicle. It could carry up to 100 tons of cargo or 200 people, but a more typical load was 60 tons of cargo or 120 people. The vehicle was powered by four 265 hp (198 kW) GMC diesel engines positioned in the sides of the hull, each of which drove one wheel on land. Pairs of engines were coupled to drive each of the two 1.2 meter diameter propellers, which propelled the vehicle in the water. Its top speed was 20 mph (32 km/h) on land, or 7.5 mph (12.1 km/h) afloat. The operator occupied a small cab on the port side at the aft end of the vehicle. The LARC-LX was used to transport wheeled and tracked vehicles, including beach preparation equipment and general cargo, from ship-to-shore or to inland transfer points. It was also capable of transporting 40-foot (12 m) shipping containers, which could be landed from the LARC either by crane, straddle carriers, or rollers. It was the only amphibious vehicle in U.S. Army service capable of landing on a beach through surf. Typically, the LARC-LX was carried as deck cargo on a commercial vessel or heavy lift ship to be transported overseas. The first BARC had its maiden voyage in 1952 at Fort Lawton, Washington. The designated was changed from BARC to LARC in 1960. The LARCS first saw active service in 1967 when they were dispatched to Vietnam to support the 101st Airborne Division, and in 1968 the 1st Cavalry Division. The last amphibious company in the U.S. Army, the 309th Transportation (LARC LX) Company, 11th Transportation Battalion, was deactivated on 15 October 2001.
|BARC / LARC LX For Sale by Wareham Steamship Corporation.|
During my internet search for information on the LARC LX, I discovered that it is for sale. I don't know about you, but I'd love to own one.
LARC LX Specifications:
- Crew: 2
- Weight: 100 tons
- Engine: GM 6-71, 265 hp × 4
- Range (land): 150 miles (240 km)
- Range (sea): 75 miles (121 km)
- Length: 62 ft, 6.5 in
- Width: 26 ft, 7 in
- Height: 19 ft, 6in
- Wheelbase: 28 ft, 6 in
- Battery: 24 volt
- Speed (water)
- Forward (empty): 7.5 mph (12.1 km/h)
- Forward (60 ton): 7 mph (11 km/h)
- Forward (100 ton): 6.5 mph (10.5 km/h)
- Speed (land)
- Forward (empty): 15.2 mph (24.5 km/h)
- Forward (60 ton): 14 mph (23 km/h)
- Forward (100 ton): 12.75 mph (20.52 km/h)
- Reverse (60 ton): 2.85 mph (4.59 km/h)
- Turning circle: 75 ft (23 m)
- Gradient: 60%
- Temperature range: 125 F to -25 F (-30 to +50 °C)