The LV72, known as a forgotten veteran of the World War Two Normandy Invasion, has been resting for more than 40 years on a riverbank in South Wales, an unlikely home for a historical ship.
Her current owner, Simon Jones, is keen for the Juno Beach lightvessel to be granted a second chance at life, and for someone to “buy it for a purpose” as his family aren’t able to restore her in the way that his father had originally wanted. He said:
“My father had a dream that never materialised.”
The lightship, also known as a lightvessel, has an asking price of £40,000 but Simon believes it would cost “hundreds of thousands” to refurbish the ship into a useable state, and the family are only willing to sell it if it can be done as she holds sentimental value.
Over the years there has been plenty of interest in buying her but due to the cost of refurbishment, the sales have never advanced.
What Are Lightvessels?
Lightvessels are ships used as lighthouses where the water is not suitable for the construction of a proper lighthouse, an ideal solution for the evacuation of Dunkirk.
The first lightvessel was created in 1732 by Robert Hamblin. As technology advanced, the ships fell out of use and were replaced by automated buoys and constructed lighthouses.
LV72 Juno Beach Lightship
This particular vessel was one of four built by John Crown & Sons LTD in Sunderland. She was launched on March 30, 1903, and until 1944 she served at least three stations; Morecambe Bay, Seven Stones and Shipwash.
During WW2 the LV72 was anchored to “mark the limits of a safe passage on route” to the beaches and Mulberry Harbours. She remained in position on Juno beach from June 18, 1944, until January 27, 1945, where countless soldiers would have passed her.
After repairs for collisions, she was positioned on the River Seine to help the landings across the French coast. In March 1946 she was replaced by one of the French lightships and returned to her normal duties in Britain.
In 1972 she was decommissioned and began her retirement. The following year she arrived in the River Neath having been bought by Steel Supply Company along with a sister ship. Both ships were to be scrapped but Ian Jones, Simon’s father and the managing Director at the time, saved the LV72 from being scrapped after learning of her history.
Ian Jones had the idea to turn her into a houseboat but was never able to bring his idea into fruition.
For a short time, she was used as the company's office. Now she rests on the side of the riverbank being preserved by the mud she sits in, waiting for her second life.