The lightship currently docked in Portsmouth, Virginia has a long and eventful history, dating back to its construction in 1915. The vessel was originally given the simple alpha-numeric designation of LV 101 - such numbers were assigned to all lightships after 1867. This augmented the tradition of renaming the ships every time they moved to a new station, which made it nearly impossible to track an individual ship and its maintenance history.
In 1852 the Lightship Service itself was refurbished and placed under the command of maritime professionals, and the situation began to improve. As previously mentioned, the numbering system was developed in 1867 which allowed individual ships to be tracked across their various assignments. Crew conditions and training were upgraded as well, and the ships themselves were constructed of metal instead of wood. By the nature of their duty lightships were subject to numerous collisions with wayward vessels, so they needed to be as sturdy as possible. In 1934, for instance, the ill-fated Titanic’s sister ship Olympia collided with a lightship and sheared the vessel in two. LV 101 herself was rammed twenty-four times, with eight of those hits coming during her tenure at Cape Charles. Most of these accidents were glancing, minor blows, although an examination of the hull will still reveal their effects.