Part 2 – Lightship Overfalls
My search for lighthouses expanded, especially southward, bringing me to the Lightship Overfalls.
Typically, a lightship is identified with the name of its station, usually an offshore hazard or a nearby port. The station name was painted in large white letters on a red hull to make it easy for other vessels’ crews to identify the station. Overfalls Lightship Station was located near the entrance to Delaware Bay, marking Overfalls Shoals.
The vessel that was actually stationed at Overfalls is now docked in Portsmouth, Virginia (with “Portsmouth” painted on the hull) and is open to the public.
The lightship with “Overfalls” painted on the side and now on display in Lewes, Delaware never actually served on Overfalls Station. This vessel was decommissioned from Boston Harbor in 1972 and was donated to the Lewes Historical Society. The ship was berthed in a dugout earthen slip off of the Rehoboth Canal. The ship was given the name Overfalls referring to the lightship station nearest to Lewes.
The current Lightship Overfalls in Lewes was maintained by the historical society from 1973 to 1999. Eventually the Overfalls Maritime Museum Foundation purchased the ship, and an ambitious local group known as the “Dirty Hands Gang” worked to fully restore the ship from the waterline up.
In 2008, the vessel was towed to a shipyard in Norfolk, Virginia to complete the restoration of the hull. After seven months, the ship was returned to Lewes and a brand new berth (in the same location) for the refurbished vessel.
Unlike Lightship Barnegat, Overfalls fell into good hands with adequate funding and support to restore the vessel and make it open to the public.
Station Assignments (Hull LV 118 on display as Lightship Overfalls)
• 1938 – 1957: Cornfield Point (CT)
• 1958 – 1962: Cross Rip (MA)
• 1962 – 1972: Boston (MA)
For a more detailed history of the Lightship Overfalls (LV118—vessel on display) go to:
For a more detailed history of the Lightship Overfalls—originally christened “Charles” for Cape Charles, Virginia (LV-101 – that actually served on Overvalls) go to:
Author’s Note: The Lightships Barnegat and Overfalls are little more than 120 miles apart, but worlds apart in how they have been treated, managed and conserved. There are several historically significant vessels moored at the Camden and Philadelphia waterfronts directly across the Delaware river from each other. A historic lightship would certainly add more variety and interest. While not as spectacular or famous as the Battleship New Jersey, the Lightship Barnegat would only add to the breadth of maritime history in the area, and I suspect, the “little red ship with the lights on it” would capture its share of attention (and revenue).
Lightship Overfalls Gallery
Text and Photographs © 2015 Jeff Richmond