Lightship Ambrose (LV-87) Ship Tour

New York City, New York, USA
Photos & Text by Felix R. Bustelo

Built in 1908, the steel-hulled Ambrose Lightship was stationed at the mouth of lower New York Bay between Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York and Sandy Hook, New Jersey. From this station, she was able to safely guide shipping in and out of this busy harbor through an area filled with invisible navigation hazards such as sand bars and shoals. The Ambrose lightship station was one of the two markers which were used to gauge a transatlantic liner's travel time to determine if it would hold the Blue Riband.

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The Ambrose was stationed in the Ambrose Channel until 1937 and then served as the Scotland Lightship close to Sandy Hook until 1963. The U.S. Coast Guard donated her to the South Street Seaport Museum in 1968. The last official designation for this vessel was WAL-512.

The Ambrose Channel's last lightship was replaced in 1964 by a tower built in four tall legs anchored to the sea bottom. The tower has comfortable quarters for Coast Guard personnel and a helipad for resupplying but the living spaces have been vacant since 1988 when the station was fully automated.

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For further information, you can check with the South Street Seaport Museum. When I took these photos, the tugboat W.O. Decker was moored next to the Lightship Ambrose. The tugboat is another member of the Museum's fleet and also the subject of a ship tour on this site. (This article was originally published in Felix Bustelo's International Maritime Modeling web site.)

Gross Tonnage:

488 tons

Displacement Tonnage:

683 tons

Extreme Length:

135 ft.

Waterline Length:

113 ft.


29 ft.


13 ft.


Lantern Masts - 67 ft. high.