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 Lightship Barnegat LV 79/WAL 506, NJ    
Privately owned, no access without permission.
Description: A lighthouse was first built at the northern tip of Long Beach Island, marking Barnegat Inlet, in 1835. This forty-foot tower toppled into the sea in 1857, and a temporary light was put in place until the new lighthouse, built south of the original, was completed in 1858. This lighthouse stands 172-feet-tall and originally exhibited the light from a revolving first-order Fresnel lens.

Still, the lighthouse was unable to properly cover the shoals that extend far to sea, and a lightship was established eight miles east of Barnegat Lighthouse on August 15, 1927. The lighthouse was reduced to a minor light and then discontinued in 1944.

There were other reasons for positioning a lightship off Barnegat. If one looks at a map of New Jersey, Barnegat is located near a distinct bend in the coastline. At this point, coastwise shipping must make a change of course. Also, at the time, there was no fog signal along the entire New Jersey coast between New York Bay and Delaware Bay, and placing one onshore was not practicable because the track of vessels was too far offshore.

The first lightship assigned to the Barnegat station was LV 79/ WAL 506. This vessel was commissioned in 1904 and spent twenty years marking Five Fathom Bank, located roughly fifteen miles from the Cape May Lighthouse, before being used as a relief lightship for two years and then being deployed to Barnegat station in 1927. The lightship displayed an occulting white light visible for eight out of every ten seconds.

LV 79 was equipped with a submarine bell in 1910 before arriving at Barnegat station. These bells were either placed in a position low in the ship so the sound could be transmitted through the water, or were even suspended beneath the ship and then struck with a prescribed frequency. To receive the sound, ships typically used a microphone suspended in a tank of water. One of these tanks was mounted to each side of the bow inside the ship. When the captain aligned his vessel so that the sound received at each microphone was of equal intensity, he knew his ship was pointing towards the lightship. A radio beacon was added to Lightship LV 79 in 1930. When the radio beacon was synchronized with the submarine bell, ships could use the difference in the time of arrival of the two signals to determine their distance from the lightship.

LV 79 was withdrawn from Barnegat station in 1942 to serve as an examination vessel at Edgemoor, Delaware. The lightship would intercept all vessels entering the Delaware River and a boarding party would determine the shipís identity, cargo, homeport and last port of call. If cleared, the vessels were allowed to proceed.

Following the war, LV 79 returned to Barnegat station, where it served until its decommissioning on March 3, 1967. Later that year, the lightship was donated to the Chesapeake Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Maryland. Unable to afford maintenance expenses, the museum was forced to sell the lightship to Heritage Ship Guild in 1970 to be used as part of a floating display at Pennís Landing. The lightship was there through the 1980s. When the Heritage Ship Guild disbanded, ownership of the lightship was transferred to Rod Sadler, owner of Pyne Poynt Marina, and a new group called Camden Museum and Learning Center. Sadler wanted to refurbish the ship and move it to the Camden waterfront, but the vessel is sitting in mud at the marina in Camden, New Jersey, and is in dire need of maintenance and repair work.

LV 79 was replaced at Barnegat Station by LV 110, which served for two years, before it was replaced by a permanent sea buoy, forty feet in diameter, that was held in place by a 20,000-pound concrete sinker and a 7,000-pound steel mushroom anchor.

Lightship Specifications

  • Builder: New York Shipbuilding Co., Camden, NJ (1904)
  • Length: 129' 0"
  • Beam: 28' 6"
  • Draft: 12' 6"
  • Displacement: 668 Tons
  • Illumination Apparatus: Cluster of 3 oil lens lanterns raised on each mast
  • Propulsion: Steam-one compound surface condensing engine, 16" and 31" bores x 24" stroke, 325 IEP; 2 boilers 9'3" diameter x 164" long, 100 psi; propeller 79" diameter; max speed 10 knots; also rigged for sail initially
  • Fog Signal: 12" steam chime whistle, hand-operated, 1,000-pound bell

Station Assignments

  • 1904-1924: Five Fathom Bank (NJ)
  • 1924-1926: Relief (3rd District)
  • 1927-1942: Barnegat (NJ)
  • 1942-1945: Examination Vessel, WWII
  • 1945-1967: Barnegat (NJ)

References

  1. Coast Guard Lightship Index website.
  2. U.S. Coast Guard Lightship Sailors Association website.

Location: Located at Pyne Poynt Marina in Camden.
Latitude: 39.95738
Longitude: -75.11249

For a larger map of Lightship Barnegat LV 79/WAL 506 Lighthouse, click the lighthouse in the above map or get a map from: Mapquest.


Travel Instructions: If traveling on Interstate 676 in Camden towards Philadelphia, take the last exit before the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, which should put you on 8th Street. Turn left to reach 7th Street.

If traveling from Philadelphia, take Interstate 676 over the Delaware River and take the first exit after the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. This should put you on Broadway. From Broadway, make a left onto Cooper Street, and then a left onto Haddon Avenue, which will take you over I-676 and become 7th Street.

Continue north on 7th Street and, you will find the entrance (somewhat hidden) to the marina on your right-hand side just before you reach the river. The lightship is not open to the public, but you can view it from the marina. The marina is not public property so you may need to ask for permission to visit.

The lightship is privately owned. Grounds open, lightship closed.

Find the closest hotels to Lightship Barnegat LV 79/WAL 506 Lighthouse

Notes from a friend:

Kraig writes:
Visiting the Pyne Poynt Marina is quite the experience. As we exited the car, we were greeted by two Rottweilers and a mangy dog. It took a leap of faith to assume the dogs were friendly. They escorted us during our tromp around the marina and didn't give us any trouble. We were told that we could have the lightship for $5. That gives a pretty good indication of the kind of shape it is in. Actually, it did look better than most of the other vessels in the "marina," which resembles a marine junkyard.

See our List of Lighthouses in New Jersey

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Pictures on this page copyright Kraig Anderson, used by permission.