Scotland Lightship - New York Harbor

Photo from National Archives

History | Characteristics | Keepers


On the evening of December 1, 1866, the 1,278-ton sailing schooner Kate Dyer which was built in 1855, was bound from the Callao, Virginia for the port of New York with a cargo of cotton, when she was rammed by the steamer Scotland about 10 miles southwest of the Fire Island Lighthouse. The Kate Dyer went to the bottom quickly, taking 13 crewmen with her. The Scotland picked up 16 survivors, but her bow was badly damaged and she was taking on water. Her captain made a run for Sandy Hook Bay, but when it was evident she was not going to make it, he ran her aground on the Outer Middle Bar. The gale winds whipped the angry seas and tore the vessel apart. Much of the ships cargo of cheese and beeswax was gathered up from the beaches of Sandy Hook. Captain Thomas A. Scott of New London blew out the Scotland's side with explosives and completed salvage of the cargo. A buoy light was placed over the remains of the wreck for it was a danger to navigation. The site which was about two and half miles east-southeast of the Sandy Hook Lighthouse and half a mile southwest by southwest of the black buoy that marked the Outer Bar.

Mariners petitioned the U.S. government to place a lightship on the location, and this was done in 1868 when LV 20 was anchored nearby to mark the wreck. Built in 1867, LV 20 had been serving a Relief vessel. She remained at the station until 1870 when the wreck was moved to deeper water. The lightship then returned to relief duties. During the years she was on the station however, the lightship had become a noted reference point for mariners making their run into New York Harbor and opinion mounted for the re-establishment of a lightship station on the site.

On June 23, 1874, Congress appropriated $40,000 for construction of a vessel to mark the site, but an existing lightship, LV 23, was available and was assigned to the station. She began operation on September 10, 1874. In 1876, LV 23 was replaced by LV 20. LV 20 served until 1881 when she was brought in for repairs and replaced by LV 7. The Annual Report of the Lighthouse Board for the Fiscal Year Ending June 30, 1881 describes the situation:

    93. Wreck of the SCOTLAND Light-ship, No. 7, off Sandy Hook, entrance to New York Bay.--When Light-ship No. 20 was brought in for repairs in the beginning of the last fiscal year, Light-ship No.7 was put on the station in her place, and, as she gave more satisfaction to the officers and crew, the inspector decided to keep her on the station, and Lightship no. 20 will be used as a relief-ship. Light-ship No. 7 is in good condition, requiring only slight repairs to the copper on her bows, which was somewhat damaged by the heavy ice of the past winter. She is kept in excellent condition.
    Relief Light-ship, No. 20, is at present at the light-house depot, Staten Island. Her lamps were changed as to use mineral oil. During the year she was thoroughly rebuilt, and is now in condition for a service of many years.

LV 7 remained on the Wreck of the Scotland station until 1902. In 1891, however, the name of the station was shortened to "Scotland".

The Annual Report of the Lighthouse Board for the Fiscal Year Ending June 30, 1901 describes the vessel as:

    363. SCOTLAND light-vessel, No.7, off Sandy Hook, entrance to New York Bay, New York.--This wooden vessel was built in 1854, is of 142 tons gross burden, and has a bell fog-signal. No repairs were made upon her during the past year. On November 25, 1900, the British schooner GOLDSEEKER drifted across the light-vessel's bow, but the damage inflicted was nominal.

In 1902, LV 7 was replaced on the station by LV 11. LV 69 took over the station in 1925 and remained there until 1936 when it was relieved by LV 87. LV 69 was sold for scrap the following year. During the period 1942-1945 the lightship was removed from the station and replaced by a buoy. World War II over, LV 78 was assigned to the station. She remained until 1947, when LV 87 returned to the station. LV 87 remained there until 1962. She was decommissioned on March 4, 1966 and eventually donated to the South Street Seaport Museum, In New York City.

In 1962, the lightship was replaced on the station by LNB 2A (Large Navigational Buoy). The buoy has light that rose about 40 feet above the water, a radio-beacon and a fog signal. Later, a smaller buoy took over the duties.

Light Characteristics


2006 NJLHS