WAL 524

United States lightship Portsmouth (LV-101)

Builder: Pusey & Jones
Built: 1915/1916
Decommissioned: 1963
Fate: Museum ship
General characteristics
Tonnage: 360 displ
Length: 101'10"
Beam: 25'0"
Draft: 11'4"
Propulsion: 200 HP Meitz & Weiss 4 cylinder kerosene engine
Speed: 8 knots
Armament: none
The United States lightship Portsmouth (LV-101) was first stationed at Cape Charles, Virginia. Today the vessel is at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Museum in Portsmouth, Virginia. Portsmouth never had a lightship station, however when the vessel was dry docked there as a museum, it took on the pseudo-name, Portsmouth.


Lightship Portsmouth (LV-101) was built in 1915 by Pusey & Jones. It first served as the Charles in the Chesapeake Bay outside of Cape Charles, VA in 1916. It was then moved to Overfalls, DE, where it was station from 1926 to 1951 as the Overfalls. In 1939 when the United States Lighthouse Service was absorbed into the United States Coast Guard it became WAL 524, but still kept a station name on its hull. During World War II the vessel was not armed, however many other lightships were. In 1951 LV-101/WAL 524 was reassigned to Stonehorse Shoal, MA, where it served until decommissioned in 1963. The lightship then sat in harbor at Portland, Maine, until its fate had been decided. On September 3, 1964 LV-101 was donated to the City of Portsmouth, Virginia, and became a part of Naval Shipyard Museum. The vessel was dry docked at the London Pier in Portsmouth. Today LV-101 is named Portsmouth, although it was never stationed there it has taken on the city's name. In 1989, the Lightship was designated a National Historic Landmark and can still be visited today. It is $3 to go into the hull of the vessel and on the same ticket visit the Naval Shipyard Museum a block down the road.

Name and Station Assignments

  • Charles, Cape Charles, VA (1916–24)
  • Relief, Relief 5th District (1925–26)
  • Overfalls, Overfalls, DE (1926–51)
  • Stonehorse Shoal, Stonehorse Shoal, MA (1951–63)

Official Website

Lightship Portsmouth

Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Museum

Other Lightships Of The Chesapeake Bay

Lightship Chesapeake

Lighship Overfalls


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