Laotieshan lighthouse

IALA Heritage Lighthouse of the Year 2021 Nominee

Location: CHINA - Dalian City. Lvshun District.

Lighthouse Operator: China MSA

Source: (photos as submitted to accompany nomination form by China MSA in 2021)

Lighthouse Description and History

(Text extracted from nomination form submitted by China MSA in 2021)
Laotieshan lighthouse, built in 1893, is located at the junction of the Yellow Sea, Bo Sea and the southern tip of Liaodong Peninsula. The lighthouse tower is 14.2 meters high, and the lamp is 100.0 meters above the sea level. The inner diameter of the upper part of the lighthouse is 4.62 meters, the lower part is 4.86 meters, and the diameter of the lantern is 3.9 meters, the height of the lantern is 2.97 meters. The flash rhythm of the light is flashing white light twice within 30 seconds with 6 seconds and 22 seconds for each interval, respectively. The visible range of the lighthouse is 25 nautical miles. The flashing lens was designed by the Fresnel lens using eight circular bull’s-eye flash panels. Each of the bull’s-eye panels refracted (deflected) the light in both the horizontal and vertical directions, forming beams of light. The diameter of the lantern is 1.82 meters, and the height is 2.88 meters. Currently, the lighthouse is equipped with radar responders, differential global positioning equipment, RBN/DGNSS, automatic ship identification system (AIS base station) and other radio aid signs. It is a national beacon, it has a superior geographical location, is well-equipped and multifunctional.

The lighthouse was built by the Qing government in 1893. During the Sino-Japanese War in 1894, the lighthouse was occupied by Japan and then returned to the Qing government customs in November 1895. In the same year, Russia invaded the Liaodong Peninsula and took control of the lighthouse. From 1904 to 1905, the Russo-Japanese War broke out in Lvshun, Japan defeated Russia and controlled the lighthouse. In 1945, the Soviet Red Army entered Lvshun and took over the lighthouse after defeating the Japanese. It was not until April 1955 that the Soviet Union withdrew from Lvshun and transferred the lighthouse to the Chinese government. In January 1983, the management of Lighthouse was transferred from the Chinese Navy to the Chinese Ministry of Communications.

Laotieshan lighthouse was awarded the world famous historical lighthouse by IALA in 1997. In May 2013, it was selected as the seventh batch of national key cultural relics protection units under the State Council. On April 12, 2019, it was jointly selected by the propaganda department of China Association for Science and Technology, China Association for Science and technology innovation and China Urban Planning Society as the ” China’s Industrial Heritage Protection List (Second Batches)”. In June 2012, the navigation aid museum build in the Laotieshan lighthouse was approved by the China IALA Heritage Lighthouse of the Year Nomination Form Navigation Association to became one of the earliest “Marine Science Popularization and education bases” in China.

Reason For Nomination

(Text extracted from nomination form submitted by China MSA in 2021)
Intrinsic Heritage Interest of the Lighthouse

“Laotieshan sits deep into the sea, and here is the place where the Yellow Sea and Bo Sea separates. The turbulent water flows to the west like clouds, and the mist drifts south like winds”. Although Laotieshan is only 87 meters above sea level, its surroundings are steep and its geographic location is very important. Laotieshan is located between Liaodong Peninsula and Shandong Peninsula. It faces the border between the Yellow Sea and Bo Sea. Under proper weather conditions, we can see a clear natural boundary line between the Yellow Sea and the Bohai Sea at the Laotieshan Lighthouse, which is the world-famous “Tower view Double Sea”.

Grasping the throat of Bohai Sea and guarding the gateway of Beijing and Tianjin
Laotieshan lighthouse is located at the mouth of the Bohai Sea. It assists ships passing through the Laotieshan waterway in and out of the Bohai Strait and its adjacent waters. The Laotieshan waterway is 5.5 nautical miles wide. As the only way to enter and exit the main ports of the Bohai Sea, the Laotieshan waterway has a large traffic flow and high navigable density. Its main traffic flow consists of the westbound ships from the Yellow Sea via the waterway and eastbound ships from the Bohai Sea via the waterway. It is one of the dangerous areas with high navigation density, complicated flow direction and frequent accidents in China. The construction of the Laotieshan lighthouse has significantly improved the navigation efficiency of the Bohai Sea Bay golden waterway, ensured the safe and smooth navigation of vessels, and greatly reduced ship traffic accidents in the Laotieshan waterway.

Witnessing the changes of the years and preserving the memory of history
Laotieshan lighthouse has gone through the vicissitudes of life over the years, and its existence is profound. It is one of the historical coordinates in the spiritual pedigree of the Chinese national. It witnessed the Sino-Japanese War, Russo-Japanese War, World War I, and World War II. It recorded the history of the Chinese people resisting foreign aggression and fighting to the end. The Laotieshan lighthouse was build and put into use by the Qing government in 1892. After the Sino-Japanese War in 1894, the lighthouse was managed by the Japanese for several months, and then returned to the Qing government in November 1895 to be managed by the customs. After Russia invaded and occupied Lvshun in 1895, the lighthouse was managed by the Russians. Then the Russo-Japanese war broke out in Lushun from 1904 to 1905, Japan defeated Russia and the lighthouse was managed by Japan again. After the Soviet army stationed in Lvshun in 1945, the lighthouse was managed by the Soviet army. It was not until April 1955 when the Soviet army left Lvshun that China took over the management of the lighthouse. In December 2012, the management right of the lighthouse was transferred to the Dalian aids to navigation administration, Navigation Guarantee Centre of North China Sea, Ministry of Transport. As a navigation mark cultural heritage endowed by the Chinese people with all kinds of good wishes, the Laotieshan lighthouse also contains the spirit of the Chinese people’s time with reform and innovation as the core, and has always inspired the Chinese people to work hard to realize the Chinese dream of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. It embodies the beautiful hope of the Chinese people for the common destiny of mankind and the peaceful development of the world.

Shining like crystal and modernized with high tech
Laotieshan lighthouse is one of the most luminous lighthouses in Asia. It flashes white light twice (1+6, 1+22) every 30 seconds, with a range of 25 nautical miles. The lens has a diameter of 1.82 meters and a height of 2.88 meters. It is made of eight high quality crystal panels which look lick bull’s eyes. On the eight crystal panels, each face is assembled with 36 crystals, and the whole body is inlaid with 288 crystals. These 288 pieces of crystal are made of high-quality optical glass by precision grinding and high-precision assembly.
The tower is a circular platform type cast iron structure, and its installation adopts a mercury floating tank rotating mirror machine. Currently, the lighthouse is equipped with radar markers, RBN/DGNSS and AIS. It is a national-level lighthouse in China, with a strategic location, well-equipped and multi-functional. With the rapid development of satellite communications, 5G communications and E-navigation, Laotieshan lighthouse, as a lighthouse station with multiple radio beacons, has been well maintained and upgraded gradually to become the center of “E-navigation”. It builds data and information transmission stations to promote intelligent shipping developing.

Spreading the culture of AtoN and upholding the spirit of hard work
In order to carry forward the culture and enhance people’s confidence in AtoN, aids managers have built a “navigation marks museum” in the lighthouse yard. By making the miniature lighthouse models, using discarded lights, buoys, fog buoys, 500W navigational aids and other navigation aids, an “Aids Science Base” was established at the corner of the lighthouse yard, which presented different AtoN equipments in live. It plays an active role in inheriting the culture of AtoN.


The strategies adopted by Chinese government to protect the Laotieshan lighthouse include not only preserving historical building and documents, but also maintaining all equipments with the most modernized technologies. In addition, great efforts have been made to publicize knowledge of navigation aids.

Making regulation rules and lows
In 2004, China MSA issued the “Measures for the protection and management of historical lighthouses in Chinese maritime areas (Provisional)”, which makes detailed provisions on the protection and maintenance of historical lighthouses. It serves as guidance for the management of historical lighthouses by authorities. In 2018, the code for the protection of historical lighthouses issued by the Ministry of Transport of China has made detailed requirements for the daily maintenance, emergency reinforcement, repair, relocation, construction, collection and display of protective facilities of historical lighthouses.

Technical protection combining traditional and modern ways
As the lighthouse is more than one hundred years old, it has been damaged and affected by typhoon, cold wave, high temperatures, lightning, and other natural conditions. As a result, the lanterns, attached podium, internal and external walls of the lighthouse have been aged and rusted to varying degrees and need to be repaired. In the process of repairing the lighthouse, we combine the traditional skills with modern technology, in line with the principle of “to repair the old as the old”, without changing the original structure, material texture, appearance, decoration, color, and so on, sandblasting the cast-iron lighthouse body, and waterproofing the wall seam. When Repairing, derusting, and repainting the internal walls, railings, and ladders, putty and latex paint the walls of the auxiliary machine room and the duty room, and covering the roof with waterproof materials, we shall be carried out under the principle of no damage and less maintenance.

To Collect and arrange historical lighthouse relics
Strengthening the protection of historical lighthouse is a long-term work. Through the collection, preservation and display of historical lighthouse cultural relics, we can build the transmission carrier of lighthouse culture, and let social organizations and the public participate in the protection of historical lighthouse. In recent years, we have established the Science Park of the Laotieshan lighthouse, collecting first-hand materials such as first-rate information on lighthouse construction facilities, restoring and preserving the lantern towers, lighthouse appliances, memorabilia and historical photos and objects of lighthouses, so as to better protect and display the historical development of lighthouse.

To excavate historical lighthouse culture and refine “Laotieshan Spirit”
The cultural connotation of historical lighthouse is broad and profound. For the protection of lighthouse, we constantly increase the protection, excavation and promotion of the intangible culture of lighthouse from the spiritual and cultural level.
(1)To refine the core value system. Through a lot of exploration and practice, we refine the “Laotieshan Spirit” of “dedication, unity, hard-working and selfless”, construct the concept system and strengthen the protection of lighthouse. At the same time, Sun Guomin, the lighthouse keeper, had been working hard for more than 30 years to gradually improve the ancillary facilities and environment of the lighthouse, which urged the latecomers of the lighthouse to carry forward the “Laotieshan Spirit”.
(2) Actively to apply for the state cultural relics protection units. In order to better protect the lighthouse, we strengthen the collection of basic information and the declaration work of cultural insurance units through contacts with the state and local cultural relics protection departments. Laotieshan lighthouse has been become a unique symbol of the local city. It has attracted great attention and became a famous card to reflect the city’s historical features.

Public Access and Education

As an effective way for inheriting the navigation aids culture, Laotieshan lighthouse is making good use of its own resources, strengthening internal and external exchanges, deepening reform and innovation. It is gradually becoming a window of high-quality Navigation Science Education in the region.

International exchange and cooperation
Both Chinese and English languages are used to introduce the lighthouse to visitors. Students from the world maritime university and experts from the IALA are often invited to visit the lighthouse, and active interactions between the visitors and the stuff members helping the visitors to gain good knowledge to the history and future development of lighthouse. Besides, the lighthouse also opens to the public occasionally to publicize the lighthouse culture. All of these are of great significance for promoting international visibility of the Laotieshan lighthouse.

Free access
Every year in World Seafarers Day and China Navigation Day, Laotieshan lighthouse is free for the public. The authority officers give tourists guide brochure in the lighthouse yard, and guide them to visit the lighthouse and popular science park, introduce to them the lighthouse knowledge and the popular lighthouse culture. In the lighthouse opening day, we also open to the public the old iron tower. All those things we’ve done are to boost the development of local economy to a certain extent.

Volunteer service
Through activities such as volunteer service for the lighthouse keeper, organize lighthouse tours among young people, etc, the workload of lighthouse staff can be reduced. These activities can also promote the public’s understanding of lighthouse culture and marks culture, and promote the practice of good management in preserve the historical lighthouse.

Exchange and cooperation
Laotieshan lighthouse has been announced as the base of the “joint project of maritime safety and environmental management” of Dalian Maritime University. During the establishment of the base, the lighthouse authority reorganized relative resources according to the new requirement. With tiring teachers, related facilities and equipment, the base has been used to teach students from Dalian Maritime University the knowledge of navigational from the actual sailing practice. This practice has enriched the teaching experience of Dalian Maritime University and trained a group of high-level maritime professionals to meet the needs of AtoN society. Moreover, by carrying out joint learning and co construction with territorial sea related departments, we share the knowledge needed in the actual work among departments, such as the protection of aids to navigation, enhancing the understanding of all parties to the work of aids to navigation, promoting the in-depth cooperation of territorial sea related units, and jointly serving the local economic development. We should actively explore the cooperation mode of “lighthouse + sea related units” and “lighthouse + stationed universities”, and give full play to the role of the lighthouse exchange platform. Through the collaboration with China Railway Bohai Railway Ferry Co., Ltd., Dalian rescue base, sea related units and Dalian Maritime University, we will achieve the comprehensive integration of all the advantageous resources and further enhance the popularity and influence of the old fellow lighthouses. In recent years, Laotieshan lighthouse has continuously strengthened their external communication and communication, ushered in a large number of students, teachers and students and related units, and the scale has been more than 50 times a year. In the future, the lighthouse will continue to move forward on the basis of the previous stage of work, further improve the conditions for science popularization, enhance the ability of science popularization, increase the popularization of science and technology, attract more people to enter the lighthouse, enjoy high-quality science and technology services, fully display the scientific and technological achievements achieved in the course of the navigation aids development, and truly implant the knowledge of navigation aids in the hearts of the broad masses.