DISCOVER                               ENGAGE                                SUSTAIN


Back to model list

Columbia Bar Lightships, LV-50 & LV-88 (1892 - 1962)

Photo Cache


Vessel type: Lightship


Builder: Union Iron Works (LV-50) New York Shipbuilding Co., Camden, NJ (LV-88)

Launched: March 2, 1892 (LV-50) 1907 (LV-88)

Date Deliver: April 11, 1892 (LV-50) 1909 (LV-88)

Date Modified: 1899-August 1901 (LV-50) 1927, 1934, c.1942 (LV-88)

Date Scrapped: 1925-1935 (LV-50), last accounted for in 1984, fate unknown (LV-88)

Length on deck:

Length over all: 112 feet (LV-50) 135 feet 5 inches (LV-88)

Beam: 11.25 feet (LV-50) 29 feet


Draft: 12 feet 9 inches

Gross Tonnage:

Lightweight Tonnage:

Maximum Displacement: 470 tons (LV-50) 683 tons (LV-88)

Construction Material: steel, pine planking sheathed in oak (LV-50)

Rig Type:

Sail area:

Crew Size:

Passenger Capacity:

Propulsion Plant: diesel in 1934 (LV-88)

Horsepower: 325 horsepower (LV-88)

Cruising Speed:

Maximum Speed:

Armament: four guns, including 20mm (LV-88)

Vessel Description

Lightship No. 50: Purchased by the US Lighthouse Service for $70,000, the service sold her for $1,668 after seventeen years of service as a lightship. The deckhouses had roofs that opened to allow the lanterns to be lowered into the deckhouses for cleaning. Each masthead possessed eight separate oil lamp lights, which were 5 feet in diameter and weighed around one ton in total.

Lightship No. 88: The US Lighthouse Service bought her with a construction cost of $90,000 originally with three oil lanterns per masthead, which were replaced by 375 mm electric lanterns in 1927.

Vessel History

Lightship No. 50: She launched from Potrero in San Francisco, California and sailed for Astoria, Oregon for fitting. She arrived on station on April 11, 1892 as the first US West Coast lightship. No. 50 required a tow because her steam plant powered the pumps, windlass, and fog whistle, along with providing heat for the vessel. A gale of 74 knots pushed her ashore close to the mouth of the Columbia River in November 1899 after breaking from her mooring. After failing to bring her back out into the river, men laid railroad tracks to pull her off the beach, through the woods, and to Baker Bay, Washington for repairs in February 1901. She returned to her position on the Columbia River after $14,000 in repairs in May 1902.

After her grounding again in 1905, the Lighthouse Service determined to purchase a new self-propelled vessel. After her replacement in 1909, she condemned after a survey in 1915. After her sale, she became a freighter in Alaska until 1925 but may have survived until 1935.

Lightship No. 88: Her voyage to San Francisco took 124 days and replaced (LV-50) in 1909. A violent storm in 1914 washed away her deck furniture and deck houses. The merger of the Lighthouse Service with the Coast Guard in 1939 meant an eventual change in location. She moved to Umatilla Reef until 1942 and then again from 1945-1959. Number 88 served as an examination vessel from 1942 to 1945. She served as a reserve vessel from 1959 to 1960. The Coast Guard decommissioned LV-88 on November 23, 1960 and sold a scrap yard in 1962, but Rolf Kiep of the Columbia River Maritime Museum who kept her from 1963 to 1979. After a failed restaurant conversion, she converted to a half-brig, was renamed Belle Blonde, and floated to Montreal, Canada for charter in 1984. After her impound by the Canadian government her fate remains unknown.

Technical Model Description

Model Scale 1:96

This model display was completed in 1999

Copyright © Navesink Maritime Heritage Association

Navesink Maritime Heritage Association is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to engaging Eastern Monmouth County with maritime and water related historical, skill building, environmental, and recreational activities, and encouraging responsible use of the Navesink estuary through its Discover, Engage, and Sustain approach

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software