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Buzzards Bay Entrance Light Station


Lighthouse Data

Established: Nov 01, 1961; Rebuilt: 1996
Deactivated: 1994-1996 (2)
Light List: Aid No. 630/15985
Position: N 41° 23' 49", W 71° 02' 06"
Nautical Chart
Buzzards Bay entrance, at
Buzzards Bay & Vineyard Sound,
Characteristic: Fl W 2.5s
[Flashing White every 2.5 seconds]
Original Optics: DCB-224 Aerobeacon -1961
Present optic: Aerobeacon
Elevation: 67-feet high Focal Plane
Range: 17 nautical miles visible reach at sea
66-feet high Tower on Red square Platform
supported by a central column and three
external piles (2)
Fog signal: Two blasts every 30 sec;
RACON: B(-...)
First Keeper: ?
Automated: 1980
Current Use: Active aid to navigation,
U.S. Coast Guard

(1) Buzzards Bay Entrance Light Platform was built to replace the Hen & Chickens (LV-5) and the Vineyard Sound (LV-110) Lightships.

      Since 1847, Vineyard Sound Light Vessel was On Station at the southwestern tip of Martha’s Vineyard.  In 1866, the Hen and Chickens Shoal Lightship was commissioned to mark the shoals off Gooseberry Neck at the entrance to Buzzards Bay, 4 miles west of Cuttyhunk Light. ? Both Lightships were anchored at sandy shallows where Lighthouses could not be built to aid mariners entering Buzzards Bay until 1954.

      In 1954, Hen and Chickens Shoal Lightship was moved southwest to Position N 41° 24', W 71° 03' for improving the Lightship in guiding navigation into Buzzards Bay and the aid was renamed the Buzzards Bay Light Vessel (LV-86).

      By 1960, the Coast Guard began a program to replace Light Vessels with off-shore Skeletal Tower Superstructures over a 10-year period to reduce manpower costs.  J. Ray McDermott, offshore oil contract firm of New Orleans, designed the Buzzards Bay Light Tower and the Pereni Corp. and General Ship and Engineering Works of Boston was awarded a $1.45 million contract to erect towers at Buzzards Bay and Brenton Reef off Newport, R.I.

      In August 1961, construction began when a 100-ton, 85-feet high frame was floated and sunk in 60 feet of water 4 miles offshore from Cuttyhunk Island.  Four Steel pilings were sunk and embedded into the bedrock of the sea floor as the foundation to support the Tower Superstructure and integral Keeper’s quarters.  The 66-feet high Light Tower was First Lit on November 1, 1961 exhibiting a Flashing White light 101-feet above sea level.  The 75-feet square deck also served as a helicopter landing pad for delivering supplies to the Light Keepers.

      Buzzards Bay Entrance Light was the first deep water offshore Lighthouse designed similar to a Gulf Coast Texan oil rig.  The Skeletal Superstructure supported by four Steel concrete filled piles was the first American Lighthouse built over open waters.

Loading Image
Nautical Chart of Buzzards Bay Entrance, Massachusetts
for informational purpose only
Not to be used for Navigation

      In 1980, the Coast Guard automated the Lighthouse at a cost of $125,000.

(2) The estimated life expectancy of the Light Tower was 30 years yet stress cracks developed on some weld joints by the late 1970s and the helicopter pad was condemned in 1994.  Both the access ladders and catwalk also deteriorated preventing servicing the Light by boat.  The Coast Guard placed a large navigation buoy about a mile west of the condemned Light Tower as a temporary measure.

      In 1996, a new 75-feet high replacement Light Tower was built in Texas and floated by barge to the Buzzards Bay site.  The new Tower was rebuilt on a smaller Red square Skeletal Superstructure supported by 3 red piles and a large tube in the center with BUZZARDS labeled on the sides.  The new Buzzards Bay Entrance Light is a modern rotating beacon powered by solar batteries and exhibiting a Flashing White light every 2.5 seconds 67-feet above sea level.

      Afterwards, the condemned Light structure was razed and sunk off the coast of Long Island to extend a existing artificial reef.  The cost for erecting the new tower and demolishing the old one was $1.8 million, a reasonable price to ensure the safety of local mariners and coastal pilots in avoiding the shoals and large rocks near the the entrance to Buzzards Bay.

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Public Access

No Access,
Best Viewed by boat.

Buzzards Bay

- Google Map 

- Mapquest Map 

Travel Links

- Harbor View Hotel 
Scenic View of Edgartown

Lighthouse Cruises

- Cruises & Tours, 
Buzzards Bay Lighthouse
cruise, Sep 17, 2005

Buzzards Bay

1961 Integral Texas Tower
Keeper’s House was removed.

Document Updated: Mon 04 Oct 2010, 8:20:00pm EDT (GMT-4)

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