Out of the Fire and Into The Frying Pan (Lightship, That Is)

August 30, 1929

Lightship 115 (LV-115) of the U.S. Lighthouse Service was launched in Charleston, South Carolina. As one of the lightships built to serve as navigational aids in waters too deep or otherwise unsuitable for lighthouses, LV-115 was stationed beginning in 1930 at one of the most dangerous places along the entire Atlantic coast in the United States: the Frying Pan Shoals, about 30 miles (48.3 kilometers) off of Cape Fear, North Carolina. The vessel, measuring more than 133 feet (40.5 meters) in length, was the ninth lightship to serve in that often treacherous area since 1854.

LV-115 was operated by the U.S. Lighthouse Service (which would merge with the U.S. Coast Guard in 1939) and went by the name Frying Pan Shoals Lightship. The ship served at the Frying Pan Shoals until 1942, when – not long after the U.S. entry into World War II – she was commissioned as a Coast Guard examination vessel at Cristóbal near the Panama Canal.  (Examination vessels inspect ships and boats entering ports during wartime.) From 1944 to 1945, Frying Pan served in a similar capacity at Charleston.

The ship then returned to her original station, continuing to serve at the Frying Pan Shoals until being retired from duty there in 1964. When recalling his experiences on board Frying Pan in that part of the world, one former crew member said that the time encompassed everything from “sheer loneliness and boredom” to “all the excitement you can stand.”

After her time at the Frying Pan Shoals came to an end, the vessel served as a relief ship at Cape May, New Jersey, until being decommissioned in 1965. The vessel, which is now moored at a pier in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood in Manhattan, has the distinction of being only one of about a dozen surviving U.S. lightships.

For more information on U.S. Lightship 115 (LV-115), a.k.a., the Frying Pan Shoals Lightship, please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_lightship_Frying_Pan_(LV-115).

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