Lightship LV-112 Mystery of Oyster Bay


After serving 39 years at Nantucket Shoals, Nantucket Lightship LV-112 has been bounced around New England and New York exchanging ownership seven times like a Yankee privateer ship escaping a British sea hunt (2).

In 1936, the British government paid $300,956 to build the largest American Lightship after their SS Olympic White Star liner sank the Nantucket Lightship LV-117 on May 15, 1934. Four men sank with the ship, three survivors later died of exposure, and four men survived the British ramming.

The current mystery began on December 7, 1975, when “The Dirty Dozen” of Nantucket rescued their Nantucket Lightship from Atlantic City, New Jersey officials who bought the Lightship at a government surplus auction. Atlantic City exchanged the Lightship for a surplus Boston Lightship. For 9 years, the historic Lightship was a floating museum in Nantucket Harbor.

Before we fast forward to the present mystery, Nantucket Lightship LV-112 has a colorful exchange of tours and ports until 2006 when Oyster Bay of Long Island received a notice to terminate the illegal occupancy of the Trespass Vessel, Nantucket 112 from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

The National Lighthouse Museum originally planned to use the Lightship as their flagship to be docked next to the museum at Pier One On Staten Island. In 2003, Nantucket Lightship LV-112 sailed to Oyster Bay for the annual Oyster Festival and has been in Lightship Limbo ever since.

Nantucket Lightship LV-112 has been temporarily berthed at the Jakobson Pier in Oyster Bay for the past four and half years. Last year, Jerry Roberts, a National Lighthouse Museum board member, announced the sale of the “First Light of America“(1) for $1 to any nonprofit group able to repair, maintain, and open the Lightship to the public.

Without skipping a beat or pausing to explain how a evicted ship might be adopted, Newsday published mysterious news claiming Oyster Bay is trying to adopt the ship in Lightship Limbo! Somehow, the trespassing vessel has escaped eviction and the long arm of marshal law! At the same time, Oyster Bay must establish a nonprofit corporation before the struggling National Lighthouse Museum will transfer ownership of their beleaguered ship!

No further news online has been published about the Lightship adoption progress since the Newsday article which was published six months ago. In the meantime, the “First Light of America” suffers the indignity of deterioration, rust, and vandalism while overdue restoration continues to be delayed. Maybe, the National Park Service or a government online auction could save this American treasure?



(1) Nantucket Lightship LV-112 was one of many floating Lighthouses that marked the hazardous shallow sea near a busy sea lane. Nantucket Lightship was the only U.S. Lightship stationed in international waters 100 miles out from the mainland and was nicknamed the Statue of Liberty of the Sea because she was the first Light and sign of American civilization seen by European immigrants!

(2) Revolutionary humor for a famous American Lightship (LV-112/WAL 534) built in 1936 with British funds after the British liner, SS Olympic, the sister ship of the Titanic, sank LV-117 on May 15, 1934. LV-112/WAL 534, the Largest Lightship built, 148-feet 10-inches long, was Decommissioned on Mar 28, 1975 and docked at Chelsea, Massachusetts.

List of Ownership Transfers:

1. Atlantic City, N.J. bought the Lightship at a government surplus auction
2. Dec 6-7, 1975 to 1984: floating museum at Nantucket
The Dream Location: Google Map of Nantucket Lightship LV-112

3. 1984 debarked for Maine as a maritime education center
1986: sold Nantucket Lightship Preservation Inc. , Boston
July 3/4, 1986 at Statue of Liberty rededication ceremony

4. 1987-1988: On display at several Maine Ports, docked at Portland, Maine

5. 1988-1997: Intrepid Air-Sea-Space Museum -daily Public Tours in New York City
6. 1997-2002: The HMS Rose Foundation in Bridgeport, Conn and docked at
Captain’s Cove Seaport – not maintained and fell into disrepair

7. 2002 Mar 30: National Lighthouse Museum, Staten Island New York City
The Proposed Location of Nantucket Lightship LV-112: Google Map of Nantucket Lightship LV-112

8. 2003-2008: In Lightship Limbo at Oyster Bay on Long Island, New York
The Present Location of Nantucket Lightship LV-112: Google Map of Nantucket Lightship LV-112

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About Debbie Dolphin

Lighthouse author and photographer living in New England

Posted on March 17, 2008, in History, Politics, Preservation News, Relocation and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Hi Ron,

    Thank you for your insightful comment. It is very unfortunate that the fate of famous LV-112 Nantucket Lightship is embroiled in this mystery. Ideally, the LV-112 Nantucket Lightship should be a public museum in Nantucket Harbor yet, the location of the National Historic Landmark should not be the major concern.

    The famous Nantucket Lightship needs repairs and restoration. Hopefully, Second Chance has the resources as a non-profit to restore the First Light of American Liberty.

    Hopefully, the National Lighthouse Museum will open soon and the Second Chance agreement will allow the restored LV-112 Nantucket Lightship to return as the flagship of the National Lighthouse Museum someday.

  2. The LV-112 Belongs to the National Lighthouse Museum on Staten Island, why it was not cared for and then sent to Oyster Bay is an unfortunate mystery so far but the entire National Lighthouse Museum is in a troubled state and the Nantucket 112 is a key part of the Lighthouse Action and Mobilization Planners (LAMP) strategy to revive the museum and become functional.

    The ship can be cared for properly now because LAMP is committed to caring for and keeping her secure at her berth in St. George Staten Island.

    Hopefully you can make it here to Staten Island soon to tour the Nantucket as part of the Historic National Lighthouse “super depot” Museum.

    I don’t know why the ship was going to be sold and not be immediately returned and opened for tours. The NLM must open immediately to survive.

  3. Hi Second Chance, Inc.

    Thank you for your update. We hope you are successful in bringing the famous LV-112 Nantucket Lightship home to New England and preserving this Lightship Treasure as a National Landmark.

    Please let me know when an agreement is reached and a new post will be published to share the good news.

  4. To update you on our efforts to preserve The Nantucket as a national landmark. We have been going back and forth with Mr. Roberts to secure a permanent home for LV Nantucket since mid August. We have all of the facilities to restore and maintain the vessel here in Kennebunkport Maine as a historic vessel open to the public. We have agreed to operate a non profit to protect and oversee her. We are awaiting a visit from Mr. Roberts and hope to come to an agreement in the next 2 weeks.

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