The blare of its foghorn was for many years a clarion call signalling danger to ships sailing off the coast of Fife.
These days, however, the blast of the North Carr lightship is heard just a handful of times each year and usually saved for special occasions, such as in 2014 when it marked the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War.
It sounded at Dundee docks once more on Monday as a major fundraising campaign to see the boat refurbished got under way.
Forty years of service off the coast of Fife and another four decades in dock have taken their toll and the lightship will shortly be the subject of a grant application that will hopefully kickstart a comprehensive restoration.
The refurbishment could cost as much as £1 million but, when complete, the charity believes the lightship will be one of the jewels of the waterfront.
David Kett, development officer with the Taymara maritime training charity, said: “Despite her appearance, the vessel is actually in quite good condition, but Taymara is conscious of the fact that she needs sprucing up, particularly in view of her prospective role as one of the attractions in the heart of Dundee’s revitalised waterfront.
“The interior will also require the sympathetic provision of facilities enabling her to function as a training base for Taymara’s rapidly expanding activities.
“We surveyed the hull some time ago and it had deteriorated little since 1933, mainly by virtue of the fact that it is cast iron.VIDEO: The Courier tours the North Carr lightshiphttps://www.youtube.com/embed/geJxiZwWdcY?rel=0&controls=0&showinfo=0
“It might not look good at present but the corrosion is only superficial.
“We undertook a patch-up paint job in 2004, so we have done some remedial work, but it is now time to attack it head-on.”
A BBC film crew was on hand to record the foghorn sounding yesterday.
Following a personal approach by Taymara to TV anchorman John Humphrys, the BBC Today programme requested a blast as a closing feature.
It came in response to John’s musing on the news programme as to whether foghorns were still sounded.
Mr Kett said the North Carr was still of huge historic significance, both locally and nationally.
He said: “In a Scottish context it is one of only two Scottish lightships ever in service. The other was the Abertay, which was stationed halfway down the Tay estuary and which I believe was eventually scrapped.
“It is also a good example of riveted ship building, a craft that gave way to welding during the Second World War.
“Most importantly for the people of the Dundee and Fife areas is that it is also effectively a memorial to the loss of the Mona (see report below).”
Inside, the lightship boasts many of the artefacts that existed when it was first introduced into service, from radios to bunks and from compasses to anchor chains.
It is hoped that she will begin to earn money as a training centre for the Royal Yachting Association.
The next planned outing for the foghorn is on the occasion of the Tay Road Bridge’s 50th anniversary in August.Linked to tragedyLightships were introduced into service to act as a lighthouse in waters that were too deep or unsuitable for permanent construction.
Most have become obsolete, replaced by lighthouses made possible by improved engineering techniques or by automated buoys.
Many lightships have become prominent features in the docks and waterways of European cities, perhaps none more so than the North Carr.
For many years it saw service off Fife Ness, warning ships away from the treacherous North Carr reef.
Its name, however, will forever be inextricably linked with one of the darkest days in Dundee’s history, playing a role in the disaster that cost the lives of all aboard the Broughty Ferry lifeboat the RNLB Mona.
The Mona was launched at 3.13am on December 8 1959 after being asked to assist the lightship, which had been reported adrift in St Andrews Bay.
Amid brutally rough seas and gale-force winds, the Mona and her crew set out on a rescue mission.
She was later found capsized, with all eight crew members dead.
The six-strong crew of the stricken North Carr were subsequently safely rescued by helicopter.