Digest>Archives> Jan/Feb 2018

From The Lighthouse Service Bulletin

By Jack Graham

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Vintage image of Craney Island Lighthouse.

This column continues to provide excerpts from the “Lighthouse Service Bulletin,” a monthly publication of the Bureau of Lighthouses, U.S. Department of Commerce. The first was issued in January 1912, and it continued throughout the existence of the Bureau. Unedited quotes from Volume III, No. 10, dated October 1, 1924, follow. The Bulletin had as it object “supplying information that will be immediately useful in maintaining or improving the standards of the Lighthouse Service, and of keeping the personnel advised of the progress of work and matters of general interest in the service and in lighthouse work in general.”

Long Service of Mantles – The Keeper of Sombrero Key Light Station, Fla., on September 1 reported: “No mantles used for month of July. None expended for month of August. Mantle now in use has been doing service for 103 nights.”

Lighthouse Service Employees Transferred To Navy To Receive Adjusted Compensation – Under the provisions of the Act of August 29, 1916, the President was authorized, whenever in his judgement a sufficient national emergency exists, to transfer to the jurisdiction of the Navy Department such vessels, equipment, stations, and personnel of the Lighthouse Service as he deemed to be in the best interest of the country. All members of the Lighthouse Service who were transferred under the provisions of this act during the World War are entitled to adjusted compensation for the period of their transfer regardless of whether or not they were appointed, enlisted, or enrolled in the Navy or the Naval Reserve Force.

Aerial Photographs In Lighthouse Work – In connection with the proposed establishment of a light on Kaula Rock which lies about 20 miles southwest of Niihau Island, the most westerly of the Hawaiian Islands, use was made of aerial photographs made by the Army Air Service of this rock which is difficult of access by landing from a boat. In fact, as far as the records of the service show, but one man is known to have ever landed on Kaula.

The photographs were taken from an airplane carrying two men flying from an airdome established near Ahukini, Kauai Island. It was transported from Oahu, the Army air base, to Kauai Island on board the lighthouse tender Kukui and unloaded at the dock in Ahukini Harbor. On the day of the flight to Kaula, which included a distance of approximately 50 miles over the open sea, the Kukui took station between the islands of Niihau and Kaula where she remained until she received radio advice that the flight had been successfully completed.

Three fine photographs were secured of the rock, one of which is from a position almost directly overhead, and will be used in making a map.

Wrecked Hydroplane Picked Up In Narragansett Bay - The lighthouse tender Pansy, New York, found and picked up the wreck of a hydroplane on August 30 off the entrance to Narragansett Bay, and landed it at the lighthouse depot in Newport, R.I. This hydroplane was owned by the Wright Aeronautical Corporation, and the aviator had been forced to land on account of a demolished propeller; subsequently the engine was wrecked.

Keeper of Craney Island Light Station Rescues Passengers - The steamer Gratitude was returning from Jamestown Island, Va., on July 26 with 288 passengers, and struck a sunken scow about 500 yards northwest of Craney Island Light Station and immediately sank. The keeper of the station, C. A. Sterling, had followed the distress signal of the Gratitude by striking the station bell, thereby attracting the attention of the captain of the Pennsylvania. The keeper reported the accident to the captain who proceeded to the scene of the wreck and assisted in rescuing passengers. The keeper in the meantime went out in the station boat and rescued 12 of the passengers from the water; many had jumped overboard. The keeper’s boat was the first to reach the scene. Keeper Sterling has been officially commended by the department for his heroic work on this occasion.

Pollock Light Vessel No. 110 In the Recent Hurricane - D.J. Allen, master of the vessel, reports as follows: “Tightened her all up at 6 a.m. and gave engineer orders to get up steam on both boilers and warm up the steering engine. Sea broke glass in airport on port bow, and when she broached to at about 2:30 p.m. she fell off the crest of one big comber and before she could right herself the next one boarded her and completely smothered her; in that shock someway or other grindstone lashed ‘tween deck was smashed at 3 p.m.; wind blew so hard that that ship headed up to wind and we took three green seas over the stern. Did not work engines at all, for I am satisfied that if we had we would without doubt broke adrift. Springs on riding chains worked fine; hawse pipe plug perfect. Could not send radio when I found we were off station, due to everything being full of salt water. Set is O.K. now. Wish to say that this vessel is a wonderful sea boat.”

This story appeared in the Jan/Feb 2018 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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