By the 1920s, waterborne traffic in New York Harbor involved hundreds of vessels and tens of thousands of people a day. Their safe passage depended on maintenance of the harbors aids to navigation. This was the job of the crew aboard the U.S. Lighthouse Service tender Oak, whose engine room is seen below.
The Oaks home port was Staten Island. Its 4 officers and 23 crew provided supplies, fuel, mail, and transportation to area lighthouses and lightships. They also positioned, painted, and serviced the harbors network of buoys, fog signals, and beacons.