Excerpts from the Annual Report of the Lighthouse Board for 1893


1893

Third District

CHANGES IN LIGHTS
Liberty Enlightening the World, New York Bay, New York.--Changed to show, in addition to the fixed white electric light from the torch and the pedestal illuminated by lights in the salients of the fort, a vertical beam of red and yellow light seen above the torch only reflection from the haze and dust in the air, the face and bust of the statue illuminated by a search light and the coronet decorated with red, white and blue lights, October 21, 1892.

CHANGES IN FOG SIGNALS
Hook Beacon, Sandy Hook, New Jersey.--Changed to an automatic siren, sounding blasts of three seconds, separated by silent intervals of seventeen seconds duration, December 31, 1892.

TEMPORARY CHANGES IN AIDS TO NAVIGATION
Sandy Hook Light-Vessel, No. 48, off Sandy Hook, New Jersey, entrance to New York Lower Bay.--Withdrawn from her station for repairs and replaced by Relief Light-Vessel, No. 16, November 17, 1892. Light-Vessel No. 48, replaced on her station and Relief Light-Vessel, No. 16, withdrawn, January 16, 1893.
Northeast end of Five Fathom Bank Light-Vessel No. 44, off sea-coast of New Jersey.--Withdrawn from her station for repairs and replaced by Relief Light-Vessel No. 37 May 3, 1893. Light-Vessel No. 44 replaced on her station and Relief Light-Vessel No. 37 withdrawn June 13, 1893.

SPECIAL WORKS
Waackaack Light-station, New Jersey, for finishing...........................3,200.

NEW WORKS AUTHORIZED
Big Oyster Bed Shoal light and fog signal, New Jersey.........................25,000
Salem Creek light, New Jersey.................................................800

ESTIMATES FOR SPECIAL APPROPRIATIONS
Big Oyster Bed light and fog-signal station, New Jersey.......................25,000
Cape May boathouse, New Jersey................................800

1893

Third District

LIGHT-SHIPS

275. Sandy Hook light-vessel, No. 48, off the entrance to New York Harbor, New York.--This vessel is in good condition. She was removed from her station for repairs on November 16, 1892, and replaced January 16, 1893. The repairs consisted of placing alongside one boiler an iron pipe for receiving the exhaust from the steam heaters, putting in boat booms and cleats; and calking and painting the main deck. She received during the year engineer's stores, brushes, booms, paints, gaskets, provisions and fuel.
276. Scotland Light-vessel, No. 7, off Sandy Hook, entrance to New York Bay, New York.--On December 29, 1892, the Italian bark Chiarina, in tow of the tug Seeking, ran into the Scotland light-vessel and slightly damaged the top of the steam and the starboard cat head. The repairs were made by the crew of the vessel, by whom, also, was patched the metal torn off by ice, except a small inaccessible space under the hawse pipe. She received during the year ship chandlery, a new caboose, blocks, bedding, rope, paint, tools, metal, pumps, provisions, and fuel.
--.Relief Light-vessel No. 20--This vessel is at the light-house depot, New London, Conn. She needs to be docked and repaired, at an expense of about $1500. The vessel received during the year paint, a pump, hose and ship chandlery. She is kept in good order.
--.Relief Light-vessel, No. 16.--This vessel is kept at the general depot, Staten Island, in readiness for the special service of relieving the Sandy Hook light-ship and for general service elsewhere. She was in service at Sandy Hook from November 16, 1892, to January 16, 1893, in place of light-ship No. 48, which was brought in for repair. For the...{missing text from this point onward...]

LIGHT-STATIONS
287. Hook Beacon, on the north point of Sandy Hook, New York Bay, New Jersey.--the new fog signal was completed and put in operation December 31, 1892. Various minor repairs were made.
288. Sandy Hook fog bell, New York Bay, New Jersey.--the fog-bell tower on the west point of the Hook was moved south about 55 feet and placed on a new foundation.
293. Point Comfort Beacon, Bayside, New York Bay, New Jersey.--A survey of the reservation was made to determine the feasibility of moving the dwelling and tower.
294. Waackaack, New York Bay, New Jersey.--The old tower was removed toward and on the range of Point Comfort 52 feet; piers were completed to receive the skeleton iron tower. Various repairs were made.

Fourth District

The fourth district extends from Shrewsbury River, New Jersey, to and including, Metomkin Inlet, Virginia and embraces all the aids to navigation on the seacoast of New Jersey, below the Highlands of Navesink, on the Delaware Bat, the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers, the seacoasts of Delaware and Maryland, and part of the seacoast of Virginia.

Inspector.--Commander Parnell F. Harrington, U.S. Navy.
Engineer.--Capt. Edward Maguire, Corps of Engineers, U.S. Army, to October 11, 1892; since then, Capt. Frederick A., Mahan, Corps of Engineers, U.S. Army.

In this district there are--

Light-houses and beacon lights, including 7 post lights 56
Light-ships in position 4
Day or unlighted beacons 4
Fog-signals operated by steam or hot-air engines 6
Fog signals operated by clockwork 7
Whistling buoys in position 4
Bell buoys in position 6
Ice buoys for winter use 13
Other buoys in position 175
Steamer Zizania, buoy-tender, and for supply and inspection. 1
Schooner Clover, for construction and repairs 1

LIGHT-STATIONS

358. Squan Inlet, seacoast of New Jersey.--A new site was selected and measures were taken for its purchase and obtaining title.

359. Barnegat, Barnegat Inlet, seacoast of New Jersey.--Alterations to the dwelling, to give suitable and sufficient accommodation for the keepers, were begun in April. The interior of the present dwelling was entirely remodeled and refitted, as was a portion of its exterior. An addition was made to the house of the second assistant keeper, as the present dwelling admitted of but two rooms for the use of himself and family. The work is now well advanced. Repairs were made to the roof of the tower, which leaked badly.

NOTE.--The keepers moved into the new dwelling on September 14, 1893.

361. Absecon, Absecon Inlet, seacoast of New Jersey.--The additions and alterations to the assistant keeper's dwelling, in progress at the close of the last fiscal year, were completed. Slight alterations were also made to the interior of the principal keeper's dwelling and its chimney was rebuilt. A new main for water supply was laid, with connections for carrying the water into the dwelling. The waste and rain pipes were also connected with the sewage mains of Atlantic City. The walks were partly relaid, repairs were made to the outbuildings, and the call-bell system was overhauled and rearranged. A brick oil house was built.
366. Cape May, north side of entrance to Delaware Bay, seacoast of New Jersey.--A brick oil house, 14 feet by 8 feet in plan, was built, and various minor repairs were made.
--.Big Oyster Beds, mouth of Maurice River, Delaware Bay, New Jersey.--The establishment of a light and fog signal here, at a cost not exceeding $25,000, was authorized by the act approved February 15, 1893, but no appropriations therefor has yet been made. The Board again recommends that the amount named be appropriated.
376. Cross Ledge, Delaware Bay, Delaware.--The foundation pier was seriously damaged by ice during the past winter. Measures are being taken for its repair.
--. Salem Creek light-station, southern side of Salem Creek, Delaware Bay, New Jersey.--The establishment of a light-station here, at a cost not exceeding $800, was authorized by an act approved February 15, 1893, but no appropriation therefor has yet been made. The board again recommends that the amount named by appropriated.
398. Fort Mifflin Bar Cut Range (rear), below Billingsport, Delaware River, New Jersey.--the station was put in thorough order, and minor repairs were made.

REPAIRS.

At each of the following named stations, repairs of greater or less extent, were made during the year:
360. Tucker Beach, N.J.
372. Brandywine Shoal, Del.
374. Maurice River, N.J.
375. Egg Island, N.J.
384. Finns Point Range (front), N.J.
388, 389. Deep-Water Point Range, N.J.
396. Billingsport Range (front), N.J.
397. Tinicum Island Range (rear), N.J.
403,404,405. Horsehoe Range, East Group, N.J.

LIGHT-SHIPS.

364. Northeast End of Five-Fathom Bank light-vessel, No. 44, off the seacoast of New Jersey.--On May 3, 1893, this vessel was relieved by light-ship No. 37 and brought in for docking and repairs. She was taken on the dry dock and the bottom thoroughly cleaned and painted with two coats of germicide paint. An examination, while in dock, showed that the plates of the bottom were slightly pitted, except in places where is was still covered by red lead, put on in November, 1889. The germicide paint, which was put on in February, 1891, had disappeared. It is recommended that the vessel be docked again in the spring of 1894, for examination and for the renewal of the anticorrosive paint. Repairs were made to the steering gear, windlass, ventilators, hoisting winches, boat, boilers, etc. A new set of tubes for each boiler was furnished. Twenty-five tons of coal for use of the steam fog signal were put on board when the vessel returned to her station, relieving light-ship No. 37 on June 13, 1893. Seventy-five tons of coal, for the use of the vessel and fog signal, were supplied during the year. Rations, paint, galley, caboose, medicine, etc., were also supplied. 365. Five-Fathom Bank light-vessel, No. 40, off the seacoast of New Jersey.--The vessel is in need of repairs to her hull, boiler, etc., and it is proposed to remove her from the station in July. Forty-four tons of coal for the use of the vessel, and fog signal, together with rations, binnacle lamp, rope, spyglass, etc., were supplied.
Note.--Relief light-ship No. 37 was placed on this station in mid-summer to replace light-ship No. 40, while under repair. During the cyclone of August 23 and 24, 1893, light-ship No. 37 foundered, and four of the six men on board were lost. Light-ship No.40 was not in a condition to resume her station, so the steamer International, which could show electric lights, was chartered and placed there within 36 hours from the foundering of the light-ship. The Secretary of the Treasury, in his letter of September 8, 1893, to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate, asked an appropriation of $70,000 to build another light-ship to replace the one lost.
The Light-House Board appointed the inspectors of the fourth, fifth, and sixth light-house districts a board to ascertain and report the cause of the wreck of the Five-Fathom Bank light-ship No. 37. These officers met on October 8, 1893, and examined the two survivors, one an officer, the other a seaman, and reported the facts found and the conclusion reached.
It appears from the evidence of the assistant engineer that, on the morning of August 23, 1893, the sea was very heavy and was breaking on Five Fathom Bank. The wind commenced to blow about 5 p.m., and kept increasing until about midnight, when it blew the hardest. A sea boarded the ship about 10 p.m., and others boarded her from time to time every little while. At midnight two boats were lost, and at 1 a.m., the last one was carried away. Every time a sea boarded the ship it was noticed, after she had freed herself, that she had a list to port. As soon as she would free herself from one sea, another would board her. About 1:45 a.m., a tremendous sea boarded her, when she went over on her beam end and went down sideways to port. The assistant engineer went down with the ship and, when he came to the surface, caught the main hatch scuttle and was supported by it until he was picked up about 6 p.m., some sixteen hours after, by a pilot boat. The ship was lying to about 50 fathoms of chain cable, and there was no effort made to veer chain. There were seven openings in the spar deck. All were so covered as to keep out the seas in the early part of the storm, but it appears that the coverings of the larger and more important ones fetched loose at the height of the storm and left the vessel quite open. The most important opening was the main hatch. it was covered with a scuttle which measured about 4 feet by 5 feet. This scuttle was not even lashed down until about 9 p.m., on August 23. About 11 p.m. it was washed loose, when it was at once relashed; but it was eventually carried away, and it was on this hatch that the assistant engineer was saved.
The barometer stood at 29 inches, even, at 1:30 a.m., 15 minutes before she foundered. One witness, the seaman, stated in effect that, about 1:30 a.m., on August 24, there seemed to be a lull in the wind. The ship then came broadside to, and each sea struck her on the side and threw her down on her beam ends. When the ship went over, all hands were thrown into the water and went under. The seaman stated that when he came up he got hold of the hatch scuttle, but finding three men on it, he let go and , after trying several pieces of wreck, each of which were too small to carry him, he got hold of a part of the lamp house, to which he clung until daylight, when he got hold of a gaff besides. He got astride of this gaff and put the piece of the lamp house across and clung to that until he was picked up by a pilot boat about 7 p.m., having been in the water some seventeen hours.
It appears that the hatches were secured by its rings lashed to rings in the coaming. The main hatch scuttle was put on about 8 p.m. but it was not then lashed. At 9 p.m. it was lashed with lanyards of ratline stuff. After this, the hatch was washed off by the sea, some of the ringbolts being broken by the force of the sea. It was then lashed with a piece of rope across the top from side to side, to ringbolts in the deck. It does not appear that any effort was made to batten down the hatches by use of tarpaulins nailed to the deck. it does not appear that other than ordinary efforts were made to secure this hatch, although the circumstances were most unusual.
One witness states that the ship had a list to port of about one-half plank on account of the large boat on the port side, and the weight of the chain of the second anchor, and that this list was increased about a plank and half more. This same witness stated that when the last three or four seas boarded the ship, she failed to free herself of water between the seas. The cause of this, he thought, was that the chain of the two anchors which was ranged on deck went down to leeward, increasing the list so that at times the lee freeing ports were closed by the pressure of the sea outside. His theory as to the loss of the vessel was that she swung broadside to the sea which turned her over. The sea struck her under the bilge, she having at that time much list. She sank, he thought, by reason of the water getting in through the hatch that was washed off; through the companion-way which was open and perhaps other hatches were washed off. In speaking of the character of the seas he said that they were regular heavy rollers like breakers on the beach. It seemed to him as if they came from the bottom. There "would be small ones and then awful big ones." "There were four big ones in succession, and the fourth turned the ship over."
The board of officers who took this evidence brought in a verdict that the vessel was thrown on her beam ends by a succession of enormous seas striking her directly on the bilge without sufficient intervals between them to permit her to free herself; that when she was on her beam ends water was free to get in through the forward ventilator, the main hatch, and the companion way, and that this was sufficient to account for her foundering. It was further found that the chain was not veered to its full scope, as is required by the regulations of the Light-House Board. The board of officers fixed the responsibility for failure to veer chain on the assistant keeper in charge, who was lost when the vessel foundered.
This is the first instance in the history of the United States Light-House Establishment in which a light-ship has foundered at her moorings. The Light-House Board is of opinion that if the assistant keeper in charge of the ship during this terrible storm had been a man of larger experience and more resources that he would have found means to batten down the hatches, and especially the main hatch, so that the water would have been kept out of the ship. Comparisons are invidious and often unjust; but the Board believes that the result would have been different if the same intelligence and ability that was shown on Rattlesnake Shoal light-ship when she was stranded on August 27th had been shown on Five Fathom Bank light-ship during the this storm of August 23d. The Rattlesnake Shoal light-ship was torn from her moorings and driven on the beach, but her hatches had been so thoroughly battened down that sometime after she had been beached it was found that she but a few inches of water in her. If the hatches of the Five-Fathom Bank light-ship had been battened down as thoroughly as were those of the Rattlesnake Shoal light-vessel, and if her chain had been veered to the bitter end, as was that of the Rattlesnake Shoal light-vessel, it is believed that she would have ridden out the storm.
--.Light-Vessel No. 37.--This vessel was removed from Fenwick Island Shoal Station on December 15, 1892, and brought to Edgemoor supply depot to be used as a relief vessel. In preparing her for service the following necessary repairs were made: She was hauled out on the railway; the outside was calked from metal line to rail, and the bulwarks inside were also calked; the main and forecastle decks were thoroughly calked and the seams were filled with white lead; a new bowsprit, foremast, and main boom were furnished and fitted; a new eye was put on the clapper of the fog bell, and twelve mast hoops were fitted. The ironwork on the rudderhead was refitted, and a new Monitor galley stove No. 5, with all fixtures, was supplied. Ten tons of coal, one spyglass, one forestay sail, etc., were supplied. On May 3, 1893, she was placed on Northeast End station, relieving light-vessel No. 44, where she remained until June 13, when she was in turn relieved by No. 44, and brought to Edgemoor supply depot to be prepared for service on Five-Fathom Bank station to relieve light-vessel No. 40.

FOG SIGNALS OPERATED BY STEAM OR HOT-AIR ENGINES
364. Northeast End of Five-Fathom Bank light-vessel, No. 44, New Jersey.--the 12-inch steam whistle was in operation 609 1/2 hours between July 1, 1892 and May 3, 1893, and from June 13 to 30, 1893, and consumed about 33 tons of coal.
365. Five-Fathom Bank light vessel, No. 4, New Jersey.--The 12-inch steam whistle was in operation 451 hours, and consumed about 22 tons of coal.
373.Fourteen-Foot Bank, Delaware Bay, Delaware.This second-class Daboll trumpet was in operation about 254 hours, and consumed some 2 tons of coal.

© 2005 NJLHS