History of the U.S. Lightship Service, 1820–1985

FRI, OCT 7, 2016 (36:35)

Part of the Series Beacons of Beantown: 300 Years of Boston Lights, Co-Presented by Old South Meeting House and Friends of the Boston Harbor Islands

From 1820 to 1985, the U.S. government built 179 lightships, ships that functioned as “floating lighthouses,” in coastal waters and on the Great Lakes –where environmental hazards and conditions made construction of a lighthouse impractical. These ships housed bright and powerful navigational light beacons atop their masts to guide maritime traffic into their ports of call. The largest lightship ever built in the U.S. was the Nantucket Lightship/LV-112; as the first landmark seen by transatlantic ships entering American waters from Europe, she earned the nickname “Statue of Liberty of the Sea.” Built in 1936, Nantucket Lightship/LV-112 today is berthed in her homeport of Boston, and open to the public while undergoing restoration. Robert Mannino, Jr., president of the U.S. Lightship Museum, will share the fascinating story of this National Historic Landmark and National Treasure, placing it in the colorful history of the U.S. Lightship Service as a whole.

+ BIO: Robert Mannino Jr.

At the age of 17, Robert was aboard the Nantucket Light Vessel #112 and served there until 1961. He recently purchased the Nantucket Lightship for $1 saving it from becoming scrap metal and losing it from history.

Robert is now president of the United States Lightship Museum.

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Old South Meeting House