By the 18th century, maritime commerce had become a 24-hour-a-day undertaking, with shipping commerce spanning the globe. Similar vessels soon entered service off the coast of most seafaring nations to provide a continuous signal for safe passage. During the 1800s, more than 116 lightships were stationed along the coasts of the United States.
Ship captains and owners considered the lightship a godsend, providing crucial guidance for their precious cargo.
The ships became known by the names of their stations, such as the famous Vineyard Lightship.