Lighthouses of the Spratly Islands

The Spratly Islands (as they are known in the West) are a group of more than 100 islands and reefs spread across an elliptical area 1000 km (625 mi) long and 400 km (250 mi) wide in the South China Sea northwest of Borneo, southwest of the Philippines, and east of Vietnam. The history of the islands is long and complex. France claimed the islands as part of French Indochina and occupied several of them, but this claim was not recognized internationally. Presently Vietnam, China, and Taiwan claim all of the islands, the Philippines claims most of them, Malaysia claims some of them, and Indonesia and Brunei have economic interests in the area although they make no formal claims.

Following the reunification of the country in 1975, Vietnam moved quickly to establish a presence in the Spratlys. More recently China has occupied many of the islands and established several large bases. Taiwan, Malaysia, and the Philippines also occupy several islands. All five countries have established navigational lights in the Spratlys, and Vietnam and China have built multiple major lighthouses. These lights do have navigational value, but they are also seen as assertions of sovereignty, even though international tribunals have ruled several times that building a lighthouse does not establish ownership of an island.

Please note that the Lighthouse Directory does not express support for any side in the disputes over this area. The only purpose of this page is to list and describe the lighthouses of the islands. They are grouped by geography. The various reefs are identified by their "international" (that is, Western) names. The islands are identified first by the names used by the occupying nation, with the Western name in parentheses.

The Spratlys are called the Nánshā Islands in China, including Taiwan. In the People's Republic, the Nánshā Islands are attached administratively to Hǎinán Province. In 2012 China announced the creation of the prefectural-level city of Sānshā, including the Paracel Islands (Xīshā) and the Nánshā Islands. The Taiwanese territories are administered as part of Kaohsiung City. The South China Sea is called the South Sea (Nán Hǎi) in China.

The Spratlys are called Kalayaan in the Philippines, and they are administered as a municipality of Palawan Province. The South China Sea is now known officially as the West Philippine Sea in the Philippines.

The Spratlys are called Trường Sa in Vietnam, and they are administered as a county of Khánh Hòa Province. The South China Sea is called the East Sea (Biển Đông) in Vietnam.

ARLHS numbers are from the ARLHS World List of Lights. Admiralty numbers are from volume F of the Admiralty List of Lights & Fog Signals. U.S. NGA List numbers are from Publication 112.

General Sources
Southern Vietnam Maritime Safety - Lighthouses
An interactive map of lighthouse locations, linking to pages on the individual light stations.
Spratly Islands Map
A useful map posted by the University of Texas Library.
Quần đảo Trường Sa (Spratly Islands)
This article in the Vietnamese language edition of Wikipedia has greater detail than any other known Internet source on the history and status of the individual islands; it is told from the Vietnamese point of view, of course.
Vietnam Spratly Islands
This Flickr.com group has photos of several of the Vietnamese lighthouses.
Online List of Lights - Spratly Islands
Coming soon: photos by various photographers posted by Alexander Trabas.

Song Tử Tây Light
Song Tử Tây Light, North Danger Reef
Southern Vietnam Maritime Safety photo

Northern Islands Lighthouses

North Danger Reef Lighthouse
Note: The northernmost of the major reefs, North Danger Reef is an atoll about 15 km (9 mi) in diameter.
Philippines: Parola Cay (Northeast Cay) (?)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 7 m (23 ft); two red flashes every 10 s. No description or photo available, but Google has a satellite view of the station. Northeast Cay has an area of 12.7 ha (31.4 acres). Philippine forces occupied both Northeast and Southwest Cays in 1968, but they were ejected from Southwest Cay by South Vietnamese troops in 1974. A few months later, when Saigon fell to North Vietnamese forces, the South Vietnamese garrison on Southwest Cay swam 2.8 km (1.75 mi) to Northeast Cay to escape capture. The Philippines maintains a garrison on Northeast Cay. Its Philippine name Parola means Lighthouse. Site and tower closed. Admiralty F2825; NGA 20289.
Vietnam: Song Tử Tây (Southwest Cay)
1993. Active; focal plane 38 m (125 ft); white flash every 15 s. 36 m (118 ft) round concrete tower with lantern and gallery, rising from the center of a multistory station building. Lighthouse painted white. A photo is at at the top of this page, Tran Van has a 2017 photo, a 2013 photo is available, Wikipedia has a distant view, and Google has a satellite view. This 12 ha (30 acre) island is one of the largest in the northern Spratlys. It was occupied by the Philippines in 1968, but a Vietnamese naval operation took the island in 1974. Vietnam began development of a major base on the cay soon thereafter and built its first Spratly Islands lighthouse here in 1993. The Vietnamese name means West Twin Island. Site and tower closed. ARLHS SPR-007; Admiralty F2824.5; NGA 20289.2.
Vietnam: North Danger Reef (South Cay)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 8 m (26 ft) (?); white flash every 5 s. Approx. 12 m (39 ft) octagonal crew building topped by a 2 m (7 ft) skeletal mast. A photo is available, and Google has a fuzzy satellite view. Located on a tiny scrap of land at the southwestern end of the reef. Site and tower closed. Admiralty F2824.3.
 

Thitu Reef and Subi Reef Lighthouses
Note: Thitu Reef is about 20 km (13 mi) long, oriented west to east about 45 km (27 mi) south of North Danger Reef. Pagasa Island is the only dry land on the reef. Subi Reef is a small atoll about 5 km (3 mi) in diameter, located 26 km (16 mi) southwest of Pagasa Island. Subi Reef is completely underwater at high tide.
Philippines: Pagasa Island (Thitu Island)
1976 (?). Active; focal plane unknown; white flash every 5 s. Approx. 25 m (82 ft) square cylindrical white concrete skeletal tower with a roofed gallery; the light appears to be mounted atop the roof. This tower serves as an observation tower at the military airstrip built on the island in 1976 by the Phillipines Air Force. A dawn photo is available, Paul Hechanova has an aerial view, and Google has a satellite view. Pagasa is the second largest of the Spratlys with an area of 37.2 ha (92 acres). It is the principal base for the Philippines in the archipelago. A permanent population has settled on the island, forming a community called Kalayaan; the population was 184 in 2015. The municipality's web site has several photos. In 2007 the air force announced plans to rehabilitate the airstrip with an eye to encouraging development of the island as a beach resort. The Philippine name Pagasa means Hope; the Western name Thitu is probably a corruption of an older Chinese name Tiězhì. Located at the center of the reef. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS SPR-010; Admiralty F2824; NGA 20289.6.
China: Zhǔbì Jiāo (Subi Reef) (2)
2015. Active; focal plane about 55 m (180 ft); white light, characteristic unknown. 55 m (180 ft) tapered round concrete tower with lantern and gallery. Lighthouse painted white with black vertical stripes. A photo is at right, and another photo is available. This lighthouse replaced a 20 m (66 ft) octagonal cylindrical concrete tower with lantern and gallery; a photo of that lighthouse is available, and Google has a satellite view. According to a statement by the Philippines Defense Ministry, the original lighthouse dated from "at least" 2002. China occupied the reef in 1988 and has built a military base with an airstrip and numerous buildings. The base is at the west end of the atoll; the lighthouse is on the south side marking an entrance blasted through the reef. Site and tower closed. Admiralty F2825.02.

2015 Zhǔbì Jiāo Light, April 2016
PRC Xinhua News Agency photo

Tizard Bank Lighthouses
Note: Located in the north central part of the Spratly Islands, Tizard Bank is a large, mostly-submerged atoll, 60 km (37 mi) long and 21 km (13 mi) wide. The bank is about 75 km (47 mi) almost due south of Pagasa Island. It was named for Thomas Henry Tizard, the British oceanographer who surveyed the atoll in the 1860s. The Australian National University has a map of the bank and its various islets.
Vietnam: Đá Núi Thị (Petley Reef, Petly Reef)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 8 m (26 ft) (?); three white flashes, in a 2+1 pattern, every 12 s. Approx. 12 m (39 ft) octagonal crew building topped by a 2 m (7 ft) skeletal mast. Dao Ngoc has a 2015 photo, another photo is available, and Google has a satellite view. Located on a tiny islet in the reef, about 15 km (9 mi) northeast of the main Vietnamese base on Sand Cay (next entry). Site and tower closed. Admiralty F2823.26.
Vietnam: Sơn Ca (Sand Cay)
2009. Active; focal plane 28 m (92 ft); two flashes every 10 s, alternately yellow and red. 25.5 m (84 ft) round cylindrical concrete tower with lantern and gallery, rising from a 2-story station building. Lighthouse painted with yellow and red horizontal bands. A 2012 photo and another photo (last photo on the page) are available, and Google has a satellite view. Sand Cay is a 7 ha (17 acre) island on the north side of the Tizard Bank, about 12 km (7.5 mi) east of the Taiwanese base of Taiping Dao. The history of the island is unclear; South Vietnam occupied it as early as 1974 but the present Vietnamese base here is relatively new. The island has been enclosed by a seawall and covered with buildings. Site and tower closed. Admiralty F2823.3.
Taiwan: Taiping Dao (Itu Aba Island)
2015. Active; focal plane about 18 m (59 ft); light characteristic unknown. 14 m (45 ft) round white concrete tower. A photo is at right, another photo is available, and Google has a satellite view. Taiping (Itu Aba) is the largest of the Spratly Islands, 1.4 km (0.9 mi) long and with an area of 46 ha (114 acres). There are various references to a lighthouse on the island as early as the 1940s, but they have not been confirmed. Japan, which ruled Taiwan from 1895 to 1945, seized the Spratlys in 1941 and established a naval base on Itu Aba. At the end of World War II in 1945 the Nationalist Chinese warship Taiping arrived to take the surrender of the Japanese garrison. The Nationalist (Republic of China) government took over the Japanese base and has occupied it continuously since 1956. Presently the island has a landing strip, a coast guard station, a weather station, and an army garrison of about 600 troops. In December 2014 it was announced that a new lighthouse would be built on the island; it was placed in service in November 2015. Taiwan also administers the Zhongzhou Reef southeast of Taiping Island, and there are plans to place a navigational light on that reef. The island is on the north side of the Tizard Bank. Site and tower closed. ARLHS SPR-013; Admiralty F2823.5.

Taiping Dao Light, Tizard Bank, October 2015
ROC Maritime and Port Bureau photo
China: Nánxūn Jiāo (North Gaven Reef)
Date unknown (1988?). Active; white light; characteristic unknown. Light mounted on a short mast atop a 3-story military outpost. Structure painted white with red trim. A photo is available, and Google has a satellite view. The reef is at the west end of the Tizard Bank, about 10 km (6 mi) west of Namyit Island. In its natural condition the reef was underwater at high tide. In 2014 China began using fill to expand the base, creating an artificial island with an area of about 8 ha (20 acres). Site and tower closed.
Vietnam: Nam Yết (Namyit Island)
2010 (?). Active; focal plane 25 m (82 ft); three white flashes every 15 s. 23 m (75 ft) round cylindrical concrete tower with lantern and gallery, rising from a 2-story station building. Lighthouse painted with red and white horizontal bands. A photo is at right, a 2013 closeup and another photo (third photo on the page) are available, a TV news site has a feature on the island with a photo of the lighthouse, and Google has a satellite view of the station. A sibling of the Sơn Ca lighthouse. Namyit Island is a 6 ha (15 acre) island at the south end of the Tizard Bank, about 25 km (15 mi) south of Taiping Dao. The island has been occupied by Vietnam since 1973. Site and tower closed. Admiralty F2823.4.

Discovery Great Reef Lighthouses
Note: Discovery Great Reef is a narrow reef about 18 km (11 mi) long, extending north to south, about 50 km (30 mi) southwest of North Gaven Reef. The reef is underwater at high tide. Vietnam began building on the reef in 1990 and has built installations at several locations along its length.
Vietnam: Đảo Dá Lớn (Discovery Great Reef) B
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 8 m (26 ft) (?); three white flashes every 12 s. Light on a tripod atop a 3-story station building. A photo (fifth photo on the page) is available, andGoogle has a satellite view. Located near the north end of the reef. Admiralty F2823.12.

Nam Yết Light, Tizard Bank
Southern Vietnam Maritime Safety photo
Vietnam: Đảo Dá Lớn (Discovery Great Reef) A
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 8 m (26 ft) (?); white flash every 4 s. Light on a tripod atop a 3-story station building. A photo (first photo on the page) and a second photo are available, and Google has a satellite view. Located near the southeast end of the reef. Admiralty F2823.1.
Vietnam: Đảo Dá Lớn (Discovery Great Reef) C
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 8 m (26 ft) (?); two white flashes every 10 s. Light on a tripod atop a 3-story station building. A photo is available, and Google has a satellite view. Located near the southwest end of the reef. Admiralty F2823.15.

Union Banks Lighthouses
Note: Union Banks is a large, rather narrow atoll located about 30 km (19 mi) south of the Tizard Bank. The reef is 55 km (34 mi) long and up to 15 km (9 mi) wide.
China: Dōngmén Jiāo (Hughes Reef)
Date unknown (1988?). Active; white light; characteristic unknown. Light mounted on a short mast atop a 3-story military outpost. Structure painted white with red trim. A 2009 photo is available, and Google has a satellite view. Hughes Reef is on the north side of the Union Banks. China began building on the reef in 1988 and has expanded its base to an artificial island about 300 m (1000 ft) long. The Chinese name means East Gate Reef. Site and tower closed.
Vietnam: Sinh Tồn (Sin Cowe Island)
2010 (?). Active; focal plane about 25 m (82 ft); three red flashes, in a 2+1 pattern, every 15 s. 23 m (75 ft) square cylindrical concrete tower with lantern and gallery, rising from a 2-story station building. Lighthouse painted yellow with white trim. A photo is at right, a closeup photo (second photo on the page), two photos and additional photos are available, and Google has a satellite view of the station. Sin Cowe is a 3 ha (8 acre) island on the north side of the Union Banks. Vietnam occupied the island in 1974 and has maintained a base there ever since. Its Vietnamese name means Survival Island. There is a photo (#11 on the page) of a Vietnamese outpost on Đảo Len Đao (Lansdowne Reef) on the south side of the atoll; and a photo of the outpost on Sinh Tồn Đông (Sin Cowe East Island) on the southeastern side of the atoll. It's not known if these fortresses have navigational lights. Site and tower closed. Admiralty F2823.2; NGA 20289.7..
Vietnam: Đảo Cô Lin (Collins Reef, Johnson North Reef)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 8 m (26 ft) (?); four white flashes, in a 3+1 pattern, every 12 s. Light on a tripod atop a 3-story station building. A photo is available, and Google has a satellite view. The Johnson Reefs are at the southwestern end of the Union Banks. Located on an artificial islet inside the northern reef, also known as Collins Reef. Site and tower closed. Admiralty F2823.205.
China: Chìguā Jiāo (Johnson South Reef) (2)
2015 (station established late 1980s). Active; focal plane about 52 m (171 ft); white flash every 8 s. 50 m (164 ft) round concrete tower with lantern and gallery. Sibling of the Huáyáng Jiāo lighthouse seen below. A photo (2/3 the way down the page) and also a photo of an earlier light (1/3 the way down the page) are available, and Google has a satellite view. This lighthouse replaced a light mounted on a short mast atop a 3-story military outpost. Johnson South Reef is at the southwestern end of the Union Banks. China's base dates from 1988, when Chinese forces seized the island from Vietnam. In 2013-14 China began a large land reclamation project that is providing the foundation for a military base and airfield. Site and tower closed. Admiralty F2823.21; NGA 20290.12.

Sinh Tồn Light, Union Banks
Southern Vietnam Maritime Safety photo

Mischief Reef Lighthouse
China: Měijì Jiāo (Mischief Reef)
2016. Active; white light; characteristic unknown. Approx. 60 m (197 ft) octagonal hourglass-shaped concrete tower carrying a lantern and a large observation room. The lighthouse is white with red diamond-shaped markings; lantern is red. Google has a satellite view. Mischief Reef is an isolated atoll about 100 km (63 mi) east of the Union Banks and 240 km (150 mi) west of the Philippine island of Palawan. The atoll is submerged at high tide. Beginning in 1994 China built a substantial base on the south side of the atoll, including a 3-story station. A photo is available of an earlier lighthouse near this base. However, this development has now been dwarfed; in 2015 China began filling land all around the northern half of the atoll to create a major base including an airstrip. Google's satellite view shows an intermediate stage in this development. (These activities are of grave concern to the Philippines since the reef is inside the Philippines 200 mile economic exclusion zone.) The lighthouse is on the north side of the atoll. Site and tower closed.

Western Reefs Lighthouses

Fiery Cross Reef Lighthouse
China: Yǒngshǔ Jiāo (Fiery Cross Reef, Northwest Investigator Reef) (2)
2016. Active; focal plane 29 m (95 ft) (?); white flash every 4 s. 32 m (105 ft) tapered round concrete tower with lantern and gallery. Lighthouse is white with red trim and a red band at the base; lantern is also red. A photo is at right, and Google has a satellite view. The earlier lighthouse was an 11 m (36 ft) octagonal white concrete tower. A photo and a second photo of the smaller tower are available. The satellite view reveals that China has been expanding the land area of the island, bringing the lighthouse onshore. China occupied the reef in 1988 (after chasing away some Vietnamese ships). The expanded island covers about 2.74 square kilometres (1.06 sq mi), making it the largest island in the archipelago. It includes an airstrip. Westerners named Fiery Cross Reef for the British tea clipper Fiery Cross, which wrecked on the reef in March 1860. The reef is about 150 km (90 mi) west southwest of the Union Banks and 100 km (60 mi) northwest of Pearson Reef. Site and tower closed. Admiralty F2825.17; NGA 20289.8.

London Reefs Lighthouses
Note: The London Reefs are four reefs arranged in a rough east to west line about 100 km (60 mi) southwest of Fiery Cross Reef.
China: Huáyáng Jiāo (Cuarteron Reef)
2015 (station established late 1980s). Active; focal plane about 52 m (171 ft); white flash every 8 s. 50 m (164 ft) round concrete tower with lantern and gallery. Several photos are available, and Google has a satellite view. This lighthouse replaced a light mounted on a short mast atop a 3-story military outpost. Cuarteron Reef is a small reef at the eastern end of the London Reefs. It was awash at high tide until 1988, when China began building a military base on a concrete pier. This is China's southernmost outpost in the Spratlys; the Chinese name means "China Sun Reef." Site and tower closed. Admiralty F2825.16; NGA 20290.11.
Vietnam: Đá Đông (East London Reef) A
2010. Active; focal plane about 15 m (49 ft); three white flashes every 12 s. Light mounted on a short skeletal tower atop a 2-story building constructed on a concrete pier. A photo (2/3 the way down the page) is available, Google has a satellite view. East London Reef is a narrow atoll about 10 km (6 mi) long and roughly 15 km (9 mi) west of Cuarteron Reef. The reef is awash at low tide. This Vietnamese base is at the east end of the reef. Site and tower closed. Admiralty F2825.156.
Vietnam: Đá Đông (East London Reef) C
2010. Active; focal plane about 15 m (49 ft); four white flashes every 15 s. Light mounted on a short skeletal tower atop a 2-story building constructed on a concrete pier. A photo (first photo on the page) is available, Son Le Thanh has a photo, and Google has a satellite view. This Vietnamese base is on the north side of the reef about midway along its length. Site and tower closed. Admiralty F2825.155.

Yǒngshǔ Jiāo Light, November 2016
PRC Xinhua News Agency photo
Vietnam: Đá Đông (East London Reef) B
2010. Active; focal plane about 15 m (49 ft); two white flashes every 10 s. Light mounted on a short skeletal tower atop a 2-story building constructed on a concrete pier. The light is at the left in a photo (second photo on the page), and Google has a satellite view. This Vietnamese base is at the west end of the reef. Site and tower closed. Admiralty F2825.154.
Vietnam: Trường Sa Đông (Central London Reef)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane about 15 m (49 ft); white flash every 4 s. Light mounted on a short skeletal tower atop a 2-story building. A view from the sea is available, and Google has a satellite view. Central London Reef is a small reef about 12 km (7.5 mi) northeast of West London Reef. Located on an islet inside the reef. Site and tower closed. Admiralty F2825.153.
Vietnam: Đá Tây (West London Reef) A
Date unknown. Active; focal plane about 15 m (49 ft); three white flashes, in a 2+1 pattern, every 10 s. A photo (second photo on the page) is available, and Google has a satellite view. West London Reef is an atoll about 8 km (5 mi) long and 4 km (2.5 mi) wide. Located on an islet at the east end of the reef; this islet has been expanded into a substantial base. Site and tower closed. Admiralty F2825.152.
Vietnam: Đá Tây (West London Reef) C
Date unknown. Active; focal plane about 15 m (49 ft); four white flashes, in a 3+1 pattern, every 20 s. Light mounted on a short skeletal tower atop a 2-story building constructed on a concrete pier. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. This Vietnamese base is on the north side of the reef. Site and tower closed. Admiralty F2825.151.
Vietnam: Đá Tây (West London Reef) B
1994. Active; focal plane 22 m (72 ft); three white flashes every 10 s. 20 m (66 ft) cylindrical tower with lantern and gallery rising from the center of a multistory station building. Tower painted gray; station building painted yellow. A photo is at right, a 2013 photo is available, a page for the station has several photos, and Google has a satellite view. Located on a tiny scrap of land at the east end of the reef. Site and tower closed. ARLHS SPR-008; Admiralty F2825.15; NGA 20290.1.

Đá Tây Light
Đá Tây Light, West London Reef
Southern Vietnam Maritime Safety photo

 


Spratly Island and Ladd Reef Lighthouses
Vietnam: Trường Sa Lớn (Spratly Island)
2009 (?). Active; focal plane 25 m (82 ft); white flash every 10 s. Approx. 20 m (66 ft) octagonal cylindrical concrete tower with lantern and gallery, rising from a 1-story station building. Building and lighthouse painted yellow with white trim. Phạm Xuân Nguyên's 2010 photo is at right, a 2013 closeup photo is available, Dao Tam also has a 2013 closeup photo as well as a more distant view, and Google has a satellite view. Spratly Island is a 17 hectare (37 acre) island that has some of the highest land in the islands, reaching an altitude of 5 m (17 ft) above high tide. The South Vietnamese government established a small base on the island in 1974, and Vietnam has occupied it ever since, establishing one of its most important bases in the archipelago. It is surprising that it took so long to build a lighthouse. The island has a short landing strip for propeller aircraft and housing for a semi-permanent population. The island was named for the British whaling captain Richard Spratly, who sighted it in 1843; his name was later assigned to the entire archipelago. Site and tower closed. Admiralty F2825.08.
Vietnam: Đá Lát (Ladd Reef)
1994. Active; focal plane 40 m (131 ft); white flash every 5 s. 42 m (138 ft) square pyramidal steel skeletal tower with lantern and gallery mounted on a 2-story octagonal station building, all standing on concrete and steel piles. Lighthouse painted with red and white horizontal bands. A page for the lighthouse has a good photo, a 2009 photo is available, and Google has a satellite view. Ladd Reef is a small reef, dry only at low tide, about 20 km (13 mi) west of Spratly Island. China is said to have placed a marker here in 1992, which probably encouraged action by Vietnam to occupy the area. In 2016 Vietnam began dredging work at the reef, presumably in preparation for building a larger base. The lighthouse is near the west end of the reef, about 800 m (1/2 mi) west of the Vietnamese base. Site and tower closed. ARLHS SPR-004; Admiralty F2825.1; NGA 20290.

Trường Sa Lớn Light, Spratly Island, May 2010
Vietnamese Wikipedia public domain photo by Phạm Xuân Nguyên

Southern Reefs Lighthouses

Pigeon Reef Lighthouses
Note: The mostly-submerged Pigeon Reef is 100 km (63 mi) south of Union Banks and 265 km (165 mi) due east of West Reef in the central Spratlys; its occupation by Vietnam represented a significant geographical extension of Vietnamese activity in the islands. The reef is a tiny triangular atoll about 2 km (1.25 mi) in diameter; it is submerged except for a few rocks at high tide.
Vietnam: Tiên Nữ (Pigeon Reef, Tennent Reef)
2000. Active; focal plane 22 m (72 ft); three white flashes, in a 2+1 pattern, every 10 s. 20.5 m (67 ft) round concrete tower with lantern and gallery centered on a 3-story octagonal crew quarters building. Lighthouse painted beige with blue trim. A photo is at right, a 2009 photo and a 2005 photo is available, and Google has a satellite view. A Communist Party article (formerly online) says, "This island has the most beautiful lighthouse in the Trường Sa archipelago." The lighthouse is on the west side of the reef. Site and tower closed. ARLHS SPR-014; Admiralty F2825.06.
Vietnam: Tiên Nữ (Pigeon Reef, Tennent Reef) Northeast
Date unknown. Active; focal plane about 18 m (59 ft); light characteristic unknown. Light mounted atop a 3-story station building. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. Located near the northeastern corner of the reef. Site and tower closed. Admiralty F2825.05.

Cornwallis South Reef Lighthouses
Note: Cornwallis South Reef is an irregular atoll, open at its south end, located about 40 km (25 mi) southwest of Pigeon Reef. Vietnam began occupying this reef in 1988.
Vietnam: Núi Le (Cornwallis South Reef) B
Date unknown. Active (?); focal plane about 15 m (49 ft); three white flashes, in a 2+1 pattern, every 12 s. Light on a tripod mounted atop a 2-story structure on pilings. A 2011 photo and additional photos (starting 2/3 the way down the page) available, and Google has a satellite view. Located at the north end of the reef. Site and tower closed. Admiralty F2825.063.
Vietnam: Núi Le (Cornwallis South Reef) A
Date unknown. Active (?); focal plane about 15 m (49 ft); five white flashes every 20 s. Light on a tripod mounted atop a 2-story structure on pilings. Photos are available, and Google has a satellite view. Located on the southwest end of the reef. Site and tower closed. Admiralty F2825.065.

Tiên Nữ Light, Pigeon Reef
Southern Vietnam Maritime Safety photo

Alison Reef Lighthouses
Note: Alison Reef is a narrow atoll about 16 km (10 mi) long located about 25 km (15 mi) east southeast of Pearson Reef and barely 10 km (6 mi) northwest of Cornwallis South Reef. The reef is awash at high tide, with no dry land.
Vietnam: Tốc Tan (Alison Reef) A
Date unknown. Active (?); focal plane about 15 m (49 ft); white flash every 4 s. Light on a tripod mounted atop a 3-story structure. A photo (third photo on the page) is available, and Google has a satellite view. Located on the southeast end of the reef. Site and tower closed. Admiralty F2825.07.
Vietnam: Tốc Tan (Alison Reef) C
Date unknown. Active (?); focal plane about 15 m (49 ft); two white flashes every 8 s. Light on a tripod mounted atop a 2-story structure. A photo (first photo on the page) is available, and Google has a satellite view. Located on the north side of the atoll. Site and tower closed. Admiralty F2825.076.
Vietnam: Tốc Tan (Alison Reef) B
Date unknown. Active (?); focal plane about 15 m (49 ft); two white flashes every 8 s. Light on a tripod mounted atop an octagonal 2-story structure. A photo (sixth photo on the page) is available, and Google has a satellite view. Located at the northwest end of the atoll. Site and tower closed. Admiralty F2825.075.

Pearson Reef Lighthouses
Note: Pearson Reef is a small atoll with a sandy cay only 132 m (144 yd) long at the east end. Vietnam occupied the tiny island in 1978 and has developed it as an important base.
Vietnam: Phan Vinh (Pearson Reef) A
2010. Active (?); focal plane about 15 m (49 ft); four white flashes, in a 3+1 pattern, every 20 s. Light mounted on a short skeletal tower atop a 3-story administration building. A photo and a 2008 view from the sea are available, and Google has a satellite view. Located on the cay at the east end of the atoll. Site and tower closed. Admiralty F2825.171.
Vietnam: Phan Vinh (Pearson Reef) B
2010. Active (?); focal plane about 15 m (49 ft); four white flashes, in a 3+1 pattern, every 20 s. Light on a tripod mounted atop a 2-story structure. A photo (near the bottom of the page) and a second photo (2/3 the way down the page) are available, and Google has a satellite view. Located on the northwest side of the atoll. Site and tower closed. Admiralty F2825.172.

Barque Canada Reef Lighthouses
Note: Barque Canada Reef is a narrow reef, about 32 km (20 mi) long but no wider than 5 km (3 mi) wide, located about 130 km (80 mi) south southwest of Pearson Reef and 50 km (30 mi) northeast of Amboyna Cay. The reef is awash at high tide except for several low sandbars. Vietnam occupied the reef in 1987, fending off attempts by Malaysia to annex it.
Vietnam: Bãi Thuyền Chài (Barque Canada Reef) C
Date unknown. Active (?); focal plane about 15 m (49 ft); white flash every 5 s. Light on a tripod mounted atop a 2-story structure. A photo (second photo on the page) is available, and Google has a satellite view. Located near the north end of the reef. Site and tower closed. Admiralty F2825.174.
Vietnam: Bãi Thuyền Chài (Barque Canada Reef) A
Date unknown. Active (?); focal plane about 15 m (49 ft); four white flashes, in a 3+1 pattern, every 20 s. Light on a tripod mounted atop a 2-story structure. Wikimapia has a photo, and Google has a distant satellite view. Located on the west side of the reef. Site and tower closed. Admiralty F2825.175.
Vietnam: Bãi Thuyền Chài (Barque Canada Reef) B
Date unknown. Active (?); focal plane about 15 m (49 ft); two white flashes every 10 s. Light on a tripod mounted atop an octagonal 2-story structure. A view from the sea (last photo on the page) is available, and Google has a satellite view. Located near the southwest end of the reef. Site and tower closed. Admiralty F2825.178.

Amboyna Cay Lighthouse
Vietnam: An Bang (Amboyna Cay) (2)
1938. Reactivated (inactive 1941(?)-1995); focal plane 25 m (82 ft); two white flashes every 10 s. 22 m (72 ft) octagonal concrete tower with lantern and gallery, rising from a 2-story concrete keeper's house. Tower painted gray; keeper's house and gallery rail painted yellow. A photo is at right, a 2008 photo and a wider view are also available, Do Kien Trung has an aerial photo, and Google has a satellite view. With an area of about 1.6 ha (4 acres), Amboyna Cay is one of the few southern Spratly Islands that actually has some dry land. France occupied the island in 1933 and built the lighthouse in 1938. During the 1970s the island was derelict and the subject of competing operations; Malaysian forces occupied it briefly in 1978. Vietnam had assumed full control of the island at least by 1984. The historic lighthouse was restored and reactivated in 1995. Located in the southern part of the Spratlys, about 120 km (75 mi) southeast of Đá Tây Light. Site and tower closed. ARLHS SPR-002; Admiralty F2825.18; NGA 20290.8.

An Bang Light, Amboyna Cay
Southern Vietnam Maritime Safety photo

Southernmost Reefs Lightbeacons
Note: This region is controlled by Malaysia as part of its Economic Exclusive Zone. In addition to Layang Layang, the Malaysian Navy has fortified four other reefs to the north and northwest, in the area east of Amboyna Cay and south of Cornwallis South Reef. Only one, Ardasier Reef, is known to have a navigation light.
Malaysia: [Ardasier Reef]
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 10 m (33 ft); flashing red light. Described only as a "red beacon" by NGA. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view of the Malaysian station. Ardasier Reef is a small atoll 26 km (16 mi) north northeast of Swallow Reef. The Malaysian Navy established a station on the island in 1986. Site and tower closed. Admiralty F9536.55; NGA 24375.
* Malaysia: [Layang Layang (Swallow Reef)]
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 8 m (26 ft); white flash every 5 s. Triangular gray concrete pylon. A photo and a more distant view are available, and Google has an indistinct satellite view. In 1983, after an unsuccessful effort to occupy Amboyna Cay, Malaysia chose the Swallow Reef atoll (Pulau Layang Layang) as its main outpost in the Spratlys, building an airstrip, a small naval base, and more recently a 15-room scuba diving resort. The resort is the destination of regular flights from Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, making this the only island in the Spratlys accessible to tourists. The island is in the southernmost Spratlys about 110 km (70 mi) southeast of Amboyna Cay. Located on a concrete pier at the eastern end of the reef. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS SPR-009; Admiralty F2825.2; NGA 24376.
Malaysia: [Semarang Barat Besar (Royal Charlotte Reef)]
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 8 m (26 ft); two white flashes every 10 s. Triangular gray concrete pylon. A photo is available, and the shadow of the light is seen in Google's satellite view of the reef. Barely breaking the surface, this small, circular reef is about 50 km (30 mi) southwest of Swallow Reef. Located at the east end of the reef. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS SPR-011; Admiralty F2825.3; NGA 24380.
Malaysia: [Semarang Barat Kecil (Louisa Reef)]
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 8 m (26 ft); white flash every 10 s. Triangular gray concrete pylon. A photo is available showing an unlit gray pylon as of 2002; we don't know if the light is mounted now on this structure, but that certainly seems likely. Google has a satellite view. Southernmost of all the Spratly islands and reefs, Louisa Reef also lies within the fishing zone claimed by Brunei. The reef is about 125 km (80 mi) southwest of Layang Layang. Located on the southwest corner of thr reef. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS SPR-012; Admiralty F2825.4; NGA 24384.

Southwestern Reefs Lighthouses

Note: These reefs lie southwest of Spratly Island and west of Amboyna Cay. Since they are the closest reefs to the Vietnamese coast Vietnam has worked to dominate the area, building (at last count) 21 pile platform stations.
Rifleman Bank Lighthouses
Note: Rifleman Bank is a large submerged atoll roughly 80 km (50 mi) south of Spratly Island. The bank is elliptical, about 50 km (30 mi) long north to south and 20 km (13 mi) east to west. There is generally no dry land, even at low tide.
Vietnam: Ba Kè (Bombay Castle)
1995. Active; focal plane 22.5 m (74 ft); three white flashes, in a 2+1 pattern, every 12 s. 22.5 m (74 ft) tower; the light is displayed from the top of a hexagonal or octagonal keeper's house standing on tall pilings. A photo is at right, Wikimapia has photos, but clouds block Google's satellite view. Bombay Castle is a submerged reef at the northern end of the Rifleman Bank, about 125 km (80 mi) east of Huyền Trân (Alexandra Bank) and the same distance west of An Bang (Amboyna Cay). The reef is named for a ship, the East India clipper Bombay Castle. Site and tower closed. ARLHS SPR-006; Admiralty F2825.19; NGA 20290.6.
Vietnam: Bãi Vũng Mây (Orleana Shoal)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane about 22 m (72 ft); white light, characteristic unknown. Approx. 22 m (72 ft) tower; the light is displayed from the top of a hexagonal or octagonal keeper's house standing on tall pilings. Wikimapia has photos, another photo (third photo on the page) is available, and Google has a satellite view. Located in the central portion of the Rifleman Bank.Site and tower closed. Admiralty F2825.191.
Vietnam: Bãi Đinh (Kingston Shoal)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane about 22 m (72 ft); white light, characteristic unknown. Approx. 22 m (72 ft) tower; the light is displayed from the top of a hexagonal or octagonal keeper's house standing on tall pilings. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. Located at the southwestern end of the Rifleman Bank.Site and tower closed. Admiralty F2825.1911.

Southwest Bank Lighthouses
Note: The Southwest Bank is actually a group of three closely spaced banks: the Prince of Wales Bank, Alexandra Bank, and Grainger Bank, located about 130 km (80 mi) west of the Rifleman Bank.
Vietnam: Phúc Tần (Prince of Wales Bank) Northeast (2)
1997 (station established 1989). Active; focal plane 23 m (75 ft); white flash every 5 s. 23 m (75 ft) tower; the light is displayed from the top of a square crew building standing on tall pilings. Wikimapia has a photo. Located near the northeastern end of the reef. Site and tower closed. ARLHS SPR-005; Admiralty F2825.197; NGA 20290.2.

Ba Kè Light, Rifleman Bank
Southern Vietnam Maritime Safety photo
Vietnam: Phúc Tần (Prince of Wales Bank) Southeast
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 23 m (75 ft); white flash every 5 s. 23 m (75 ft) tower; the light is displayed from the top of a square crew building standing on tall pilings. Wikimapia has several photos, and this tower is probably either the second or third. Located near the center of the reef. Site and tower closed. Admiralty F2825.198.
Vietnam: Phúc Tần (Prince of Wales Bank) Southwest
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 23 m (75 ft); white flash every 5 s. 23 m (75 ft) tower; the light is displayed from the top of a square crew building standing on tall pilings. Wikimapia has several photos, and this tower is probably either the second or third. Located near the southwestern end of the reef. Site and tower closed. Admiralty F2825.199.
Vietnam: Huyền Trân (Alexandra Bank)
1994. Active; focal plane 23 m (75 ft); three white flashes, in a 2+1 pattern, every 10 s. 23 m (75 ft) tower; the light is displayed from the top of a hexagonal or octagonal keeper's house standing on tall pilings. A photo is at right, Wikimapia has photos, and a 2007 photo shows this tower (misidentified as Đá Lát). Huyền Trân is a submerged reef of the Alexandra Bank, about 15 km (9 mi) southeast of the Prince of Wales Bank. Site and tower closed. ARLHS SPR-001; Admiralty F2825.196; NGA 20290.4.
Vietnam: Quế Đường (Grainger Bank)
1994. Active; focal plane 23 m (75 ft); three white flashes every 10 s. 23 m (75 ft) tower; the light is displayed from the top of a hexagonal or octagonal keeper's house standing on tall pilings. A photo (1/3 the way down the page) is available, and Wikimapia has a photo of the lamp atop the structure. The Grainger Bank is about 25 km (15 mi) southwest of the Alexandra Bank at the extreme southwestern corner of the Spratlys. Site and tower closed. ARLHS SPR-003; Admiralty F2825.194; NGA 20291.2.

Prince Consort and Vanguard Bank Lighthouses
Note: These submerged reefs are about 50 km (30 mi) southwest of the Southwest Bank reefs.
Vietnam: Bãi Phúc Nguyên (Prince Consort Bank)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane about 23 m (75 ft); two white flashes every 8 s. Approx. 23 m (75 ft) tower; the light is displayed from the top of a square crew building standing on tall pilings. Thắng Nguyễn Xuân has a closeup photo, and Wikimapia has several photos. Bãi Phúc Nguyên is a submerged reef with a depth of about 9 m (30 ft). Located about 32 km (20 mi) west of Grainger Bank at the extreme southwestern corner of the Spratlys. Site and tower closed. Admiralty F2825.1951; NGA 20291.
Huyen Tran Light
Huyền Trân Light, Alexandra Bank, August 2013
Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences photo
Vietnam: Bãi Tư Chính (Vanguard Bank) East (Tu Chin B) (?)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 22 m (72 ft); three white flashes every 8 s. 23 m (75 ft) tower; the light is displayed from the top of a square crew building standing on tall pilings. Wikimapia has photos of one of the two Bãi Tư Chính platforms. This light has been dropped from the Admiralty list. Located about 25 km (15 mi) southwest of Prince Consort Bank. Site and tower closed. ex-Admiralty F2825.193; NGA 20291.6.
Vietnam: Bãi Tư Chính (Vanguard Bank) West (Tu Chin A)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 22 m (72 ft); two white flashes every 13 s. 23 m (75 ft) tower; the light is displayed from the top of a square crew building standing on tall pilings. Wikimapia has photos of one of the two Bãi Tư Chính platforms. Located about 6 km (3.5 mi) west of the East Light. Site and tower closed. Admiralty F2825.192; NGA 20291.4.

Information available on lost lighthouses:

Notable faux lighthouses:

Adjoining pages: North: Xisha (Paracel Islands) | East: Southwestern Philippines | South: East Malaysia | West: Southern Vietnam

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Posted April 24, 2006. Checked and revised January 23, 2018. Lighthouses: 57. Site copyright 2018 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.