Lighthouses of Myanmar (Burma)
Burma, as it was called for many years, became a British
colony as a result of a series of colonial campaigns between 1826 and
1886. Governed until 1937 as a part of the British Empire of India,
the country became independent in 1948. A military junta took control
in 1988 and changed the country's name to Myanmar. Civil unrest and
international sanctions have made the nation unattractive or dangerous
for foreign tourists; as a result we know little of the fate of the
magnificent lighthouses built in British Burma. (It doesn't help that
none of the historic lighthouses are accessible without boat transportation.)
Current information and photos are badly needed.
Some of the information on this page comes from Ken Trethewey's study
Lighthouses of Asia. Missing from the Internet for several
years, this work has been reposted at Pharology.eu. Trethewey describes how plans for these historic Burmese lighthouses
were drawn by the famous Scottish lighthouse engineer Alan Stevenson
and his younger brothers David and Thomas.
On 2-3 May 2008, the central coast of Myanmar was devastated by Tropical
Cyclone Nargis. We do not know if the cyclone damaged the Alguada Reef
Light or any of the other lighthouses.
Aids to navigation in Myanmar are maintained by the Myanmar Port Authority (MPA), an agency of the Ministry of Transport.
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
- Marine Department Services
- Posted by the MPA, this page has small photos of the Green Island and Beacon Island lighthouses as well as an unidentified lightship.
- Pharology - Burma
- Tretheway's account of early lighthouse development in Burma.
- Lighthouses of Other Regions
- Historic postcard views posted by Michel Forand.
Asiens, Australiens, und Ozeaniens auf historischen Postkarten
- Historic postcard views posted by Klaus Huelse.
Green Island Light, Kyaikkami, January 2011
photo copyright Andreas Köhler; used by permission
- Coco Islands Lighthouse
- Table Island (Coco Islands)
- 1867. Active (?); focal plane 59 m (194
ft); four white flashes every 25 s. 27 m (92 ft) cast iron tower with lantern
and gallery, painted with red and white horizontal bands. Two 1-story brick
keeper's houses and other light station buildings. No photo available, but
Google has the fine satellite
view seen in part at right. There is no sign that the station is occupied. The Coco
Islands are an extension northward of the Andaman Islands, which
are administered by India; British colonial authorities transferred them
to Burma in 1882. In 1953, India sought to lease the light station
in order to better protect shipping in the Bay of Bengal, but Burma rejected
this proposal. The islands are uninhabited, but the Burmese Navy maintains
a small base on Great Coco Island. According to various sources, China has leased facilities on the islands; the government of Myanmar denies this, and there is no credible evidence of significant military activity in the islands. More recently, the government has announced interest in developing tourism in the islands, which are an important nesting site for marine turtles. The islands are attached administratively to the Yangon Region. Located on Table Island, the northernmost
of the islands, about 3 km (2 mi) north of Great Coco Island and 250 km
(150 mi) south southwest of the Irrawaddy Delta on the mainland. Accessible
only by boat. Site status unknown, but almost certainly closed to casual
visitors. ARLHS MYA-018; Admiralty F1200; NGA 26564.
Table Island Light, Bay of Bengal
satellite view copyright Google Maps
Tanintharyi Region (Southern Burma) Lighthouses
- Pulau Palin
- Date unknown. Active; focal plane about 20 m (66 ft); white flash every 5 s. 16 m (52 ft) square skeletal tower. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. This light marks the northern entrance to the Pak Chan estuary, which forms the border between Thailand and Myanmar. Located at the southeastern tip of Pulau Palin, an island about 10 km (6 mi) west of Kawthong, the southernmost town in Myanmar. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. Admiralty F1158; NGA 26570.
- * Seikkantha (Myeik, Mergui Harbour)
- Date unknown. Actove; focal plane 15 m (49 ft); quick-flashing white light.
19 m (62 ft) tower, described by NGA as a "white square wooden structure
surmounted by a steel trestle" with a ball topmark. No photo available, but Bing's satellite view probably shows the lighthouse. Myeik (formerly Mergui) is the largest port in southern Myanmar; it was formerly
a Thai outpost, but the British annexed it to Burma in 1826. Located at the
water's edge on the Myeik waterfront, north of Mergui. Site appears to be open, tower closed.
Admiralty F1144; NGA 26576.
- Mibya Kyun (Reef Island, Tavoy River)
- 1883. Active; focal plane 94 m (308 ft); white flash every 5 s. 9 m (30
ft) square masonry tower with a "round lantern," according to NGA.
Lighthouse painted white. No photo available, but Google has a satellite
view. Located in southern Myanmar, on the west side of the entrance to
the Tavoy estuary. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. ARLHS MYA-009;
Admiralty F1132; NGA 26584.
Mon State Lighthouses
- Double Island
- 1865. Active; focal plane 43 m (141 ft); white flash every 15 s.
20 m (66 ft) brick tower with lantern and gallery, mounted on a granite
base. Lighthouse painted white. No photo available; a sketch appears
at the right, and Google has a satellite view. The British engineers shipped brick from Singapore for
this lighthouse, which guides ships toward the Moulmein River entrance
to the north. Located on a small island about 11 km (7 mi) offshore
and about 25 km (15 mi) south of Kyaikkami, on the approach to the
Irrawaddy from the south. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown.
ARLHS MYA-004; Admiralty F1128; NGA 26592.
image from NGA Publication 173
- Green Island (Amherst Point)
- 1903. Active; focal plane 41 m (135 ft); two white flashes every 10 s.
20 m (66 ft) masonry tower, painted with red and white horizontal bands.
1-story keeper's house and other light station buildings. A photo by Andreas Köhler is at the top of this page,
and Google has a satellite
view. Köhler visited the station in January 2011 and found it in good condition and staffed by a team of keepers. The lighthouse marks
the entrance to the Moulmein River from the Gulf of Martaban. Located on
a small island close to shore at Kyaikkami, a temple and resort town known
as Amherst during the colonial period. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower open by arrangement with the keepers. ARLHS MYA-006; Admiralty F1126; NGA 26596.
Yangon (Rangoon) Region Lighthouses
- Eastern Grove Flats (?)
- 1869. Active (?); focal plane 28 m (92 ft); white light, 4 s on, 2 s off. 32
m (105 ft) cast iron skeletal tower with lantern and gallery, mounted on a
screwpile foundation. Lighthouse painted red, lantern painted black and white.
No photo available, which is really too bad, since British examples of lighthouses
of this type are rare. Since shipping no longer makes much use of the Eastern Channel to Yangon, it seems unlikely that this lighthouse is maintained, and so far it has not been located in Google satellite imagery. Located on the east side of the entrance to the Yangon
River estuary leading to Yangon (Rangoon), the capital of the country. Accessible
only by boat. Site status unknown. ARLHS MYA-005; Admiralty F1088; NGA 26620.
- Yangon (Rangoon) Lightships
- There is a photo of two lightships, taken in November 2010 (2/3 the way down a long page of photos); one of these lightships is marked for the Thuriya station (ARLHS MYA-020) southwest of Alguada Reef and the other is marked for the Dagon station (ARLHS MYA-003) on the approaches to Yangon. Information on these vessels is needed.
Ayeyarwady Region Lighthouses
- Alguada Reef
- 1865. Active; focal plane 44 m (144 ft); white flash every 10 s. 49 m (161 ft) tapered granite tower with lantern and gallery, painted with black and white horizontal bands. Keeper's house and other station buildings connected to the lighthouse by a raised walkway. No current photo available, but a drawing of the lighthouse is at right, a photo from around 1900 is available, and Bing has a good satellite view. Surely one of the most impressive lighthouses ever built in Britain's empire, this tower was based on Alan Stevenson's design for the Skerryvore lighthouse in Scotland. It took six years to build, since construction was only possible during the winter monsoon. The lighthouse was strafed by U.S. aircraft in March 1943. Located at the end of a long reef in the Bay of Bengal extending from Cape Negrais, the southwestern tip of Myanmar. Accessible only by boat. Site and tower closed. ARLHS MYA-001; Admiralty F1068; NGA 26688.
Alguada Reef Light pictured in the Ilustrated London News
21 October 1865; scan courtesy of Michel Forand
- Thamhihla Kyun (Diamond Island)
- Date unknown. Active; focal plane 24 m (79 ft); white flash every 4 s. 12 m (39 ft) skeletal tower, painted with red and white horizontal bands. No photo available; Bing's satellite view probably shows the station. Located on an island off Cape Negrais, marking the entrance to the Bassein River. Accessible only by boat. Site and tower
closed. Admiralty F1070; NGA 26692.
Rakhine State Lighthouses
- Mun Aung (Beacon Island)
- 1909. Active; focal plane 37 m
(121 ft); white flash every 5 s. 36 m (118 ft) round cast iron tower with lantern and gallery. The lower half of the lighthouse is painted red and the upper half white. An MPA photo is at right, and Google has a fuzzy satellite view. Located
on a small island about 8 km (5 mi) northwest of the northwestern
point of Cheduba Island and roughly 150 km (90 mi) south of Sittwe.
Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. ARLHS MYA-010; Admiralty
F1064; NGA 26724.
- Thanta (North Terrible Rock)
- Date unknown. Active; focal plane 16.5 m (54 ft); white flash every 8 s. 14 m (46 ft) square skeletal tower, painted with black and white horizontal bands. No photo available, but Google has a fuzzy satellite view. Located
on an isolated rock off Kyaukphyu, about 80 km (50 mi) southeast of Sittwe. Accessible only by boat. Site and tower
closed. Admiralty F1063; NGA 26728.
- Savage Island (Laychindaung, Great Savage Island, Fakir Point, Aracan)
- 1891 (station established 1844). Inactive, apparently since the 1980s.
21 m (69 ft) round stone tower; lantern removed. Christoph Ulleweit has a fuzzy view from the sea, David Stewart has a fuzzy distant view, Huelse has a historic postcard view, and Google has a satellite
view. Forand has a historic postcard
view of Myanmar's first
lighthouse (called Fakir Point), built here in 1844 by Lieutenant Siddons
of the Royal Engineers. It's very possible that the 1844 tower still stands,
since the Google satellite view shows a smaller tower next to the tall one.
The current condition of the second light is completely unknown, but the
sailing directions for this coast (NGA Publication 173) mention it as a
landmark. The lighthouse was probably deactivated in favor of the Sittwe
light (next listing). Located on a small island off the south side of the
entrance to Sittwe (formerly Aracan). Accessible only by boat. Site status
unknown. ARLHS MYA-022.
Mun Aung (Beacon Island) Light, Bay of Bengal
Maritime Port Authority photo
- Sittwe (1)
- Date unknown. Inactive. Approx. 7 m (23 ft) round concrete tower, originally painted with narrow black and white horizontal bands. A stairway winds around the tower, and the lantern has been replaced by a covered observation deck. Sheila Simkin has a photo (halfway down the page), the tower can been be seen in the background of Tun Lin Aung's view from the sea, and Google has a satellite view. Located about 80 m (260 ft) north of the active light (next entry).
- Sittwe (2)
- Date unknown. Active; focal plane 27 m (89 ft); white flash every 10 s.
27 m (89 ft) square pyramidal skeletal tower with gallery and a small lantern, painted white.
Tun Lin Aung has a view from the sea, Forand has a historic postcard view, and Google has a satellite
view. Located on a sharp point on the north side of the entrance
to Sittwe. Site status unknown. ARLHS MYA-017; Admiralty F1059;
- Mayu (Oyster Island)
- 1885. Active; focal plane 40 m (131 ft); white or red light, depending
on direction, 10 s on, 5 s off. 43 m (141 ft) round cast iron
tower with lantern and gallery (originally, at least). Lighthouse painted
with black and white horizontal bands. A small photo is available, and Sgt. Lister
Walker's 1942 photo is at right, but Bing's distant satellite view does not show the tower. This lighthouse was repaired
after being damaged by Cyclone Mala in 2006. The Burmese Navy staffs this
station. Located about 25 km (15 mi) southwest of Magyichaung in westernmost
Myanmar. Accessible only by boat. Site and tower closed. ARLHS MYA-012; Admiralty
F1058; NGA 26748.
Oyster Island Light in 1942
photo by Sgt. Lister Walker, 113 Squadron, Royal Air Force
courtesy of Kevin Krawford; all rights reserved
Information available on lost lighthouses:
Notable faux lighthouses:
Adjoining pages: North: Bangladesh | Southeast: Southern Thailand | South: Andaman and Nicobar Islands
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Posted February 20, 2006. Checked and revised November 6, 2012.
Lighthouses: 16; lightships: 2. Site copyright 2012 Russ Rowlett and the
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.