for 16 months before it was decided that the only possible means of returning her to her station was by hauling her overland through the woods and launching her in the Columbia River. The No. 50 was constructed of wood and remained in service only until 1909 when she was replaced by the steel-hulled lightship.
During the amalgamation of the Lighthouse Service and The Coast Guard in 1939, four lightships, the COLUMBIA RIVER LIGHTSHIP 393, the UMATILLA REEF LIGHTSHIP #88, the RELIEF LIGHTSHIP #92 and the SWIFTSURE LIGHTSHIP #113, were transferred to the Coast Guard. These four lightships maintained only three stations as the RELIEF LIGHTSHIP #92 was used on all stations as relief. They were steel-hulled vessels with a displacement of approximately 685 tones and a complement of 3 to 6 officers and 5 to 11 crew. All but one was built around 1908; the SWIFTSURE LIGHTSHIP #113 was the newest and it was completed in 1929. In addition to exhibiting a bright beacon light, the lightships were also equipped with sound signals, [radio]], radio-telephone, and radiobeacons. In addition to their regular duties as lightships, they were also instructed during the early days of the war, to notify the Commandant, 13th Naval District of all vessels passing the Columbia River northbound.
At the outbreak of the war, LIGHTSHIPS NO. 88 and 113, were removed from their stations by the Navy and replaced by lighted whistle buoys. The ships were reconverted by removing the radiobeacon and antenna mast, by installing armament, by realtering radio facilities and by increasing the complement to 30 Coast Guardsmen and 5 Coast Guard Officers. The No. 88 was then placed in the Strait of Juan de Fuca as a Recognition Ship and the No 113 was sent into Alaskan waters. The removal of these two ships left only the COLUMBIA RIVER LIGHTSHIP #93 on station at the entrance to the Columbia River with the No. 92 to be used as its relief.
The use of one lightship as standby only, seemed most uneconomical of ships and men at a time when they were at a premium. The District Coast Guard Officer, with the approval of the Commander, Northwest Sea Frontier, proposed to Headquarters that the COLUMBIA RIVER LIGHTSHIP #93 should remain on station for a month and then, on a clear day with good weather, the ship would leave her station, go to Astoria for fuel and supplies and return before dark. A station buoy would be placed close to the Lightship's position at all times and mark the station when the Lightship itself was absent. Such an arrangement would permit the RELIEF LIGHTSHIP to be used as part of the Offshore Observation Force.
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