Huron, Lightship No. 103

Huron Light Ship at dock

Pine Grove Park
Port Huron, St. Clair County

Designation and Designation Date

  • National Historic Landmark, listed December 20, 1989
  • National Register, listed July 12, 1976
  • State Register, listed May 17, 1973
  • Marker, erected 1973

Architect, Builder, or Designer(s)

  • Consolidated Shipbuilding Corporation

Significant Date(s), Notes

  • 1920, Lightship 103 was launched May 1
  • 1936, Lightship 103 assigned to Lake Huron station, where she remained for 34 years until her retirement
  • 1970, Lightship 103 was decommissioned August 25

Significance Statement

Lightship No. 103, also known by her last official designation of Huron, is one of a small number of preserved historic American lightships. Essential partners with lighthouses as aids to navigation along the coast of the United States, lightships date to 1820 when the first vessel to serve as an aid to navigation was commissioned. Lightships left in the United States date from 1904 to 1952, when the last was built and launched. The period between 1918-1920 saw the construction of several of these vessels, of which No. 103 is the only example. The smallest surviving lightship and sole representative of the 96-foot class, No. 103 was designed and built specifically for Great Lakes service. No. 103 is the only surviving Great Lakes lightship. As the sole survivor of the type and the only representative of all the lightships built for the treacherous fresh waters of the lakes, one of the nation's primary centers of maritime activity and an internationally used, nationally significant waterway, Lightship No 103, Huron, built originally as "Relief" for Lake Michigan stations, also served stations on Lake Superior and Lake Huron before retirement, and was the last lightship on the Great Lakes.

The vessel, designed and built for general service on the Great Lakes, was launched on May 1, 1920, when she was 74 percent complete. On December 3-4, 1920, the lightship being nearly complete, No. 103 underwent trials and was conditionally accepted by the U.S. Lighthouse Service. The ship's total cost was $147,428. In the spring of 1921 the lightship was ready for duty.

On August 20, 1970, the anchor was raised for the last time as No. 103 departed the station, signifying the end of the lightship era on the Great Lakes. A lighted buoy replaced the lightship. Decommissioned at Detroit on August 25, the lightship was transferred to the City of Port Huron on June 5, 1971. Moved to Pine Grove Park on August 29, 1972, the lightship was dedicated as a historical monument and exhibit on October 4, 1974. From 1973 to 1977 the local Naval reserve used the lightship for training purposes and maintained the ship.

For information about any of the programs described on this site, write the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office, Michigan Historical Center, P.O. Box 30740, 702 W. Kalamazoo St., Lansing, MI 48909-8240, or call us at 517-373-1630.

Learn more about the Huron lightship at the Web site of the Port Huron Museum.

Michigan Historical Center, Department of History, Arts and Libraries
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