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Pages That Mention RACONS

Coast Guard District narrative histories 1945

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labor consumed far too much valuable time, and so it became expedient that there be a swifter method. By 1942, Headquarters developed a radio control system for aids to navigation intended primarily for blacking out unattended lighted aids by means of radio signal. The system was designated by the coined word "RACAN" which was later changed to ANRAC to avoid confusion with RADAR beacons or RACONS.

After a thorough study of the use of ANRAC, the District Coast Guard Officer, 13th Naval District, requested Headquarters' authority to install the equipment with the Cape Disappointment Light Station as the control unit for the radio extinguishing of ten buoys in the lower Columbia River. Because of the delay in the delivery of ANRAC equipment, it was not until March, 1944 that the first two ANRAC equipped buoys were placed on station. All maintenance and repair work for this installation of special buoy equipment was handled at the Tongue Point Repair Base, Tongue Point, Oregon. Later at the request of the Commandant, 13th Naval District, the District Coast Guard Officer requested that ANRAC controlled buoys be placed in the Grays Harbor and Willapa Bay areas. Headquarters authorized these installations, but later experiments with ANRAC did not prove satisfactory and permission was requested of Headquarters to discontinue this type of equipment. This request to remove ANRAC equipment from the Columbia River, Grays Harbor, and Willapa Bay was finally approved.

RACON and RADAR

Early in 1943, the Navy had decided to install RACONS on Coast Guard Light Stations at Cape Arago, Cape Blanco, Heceta Head, and Yaquina Head in Oregon. Sixteen Coast Guardsmen were schooled in the operation and maintenance of RACON equipment at a one week training course at the Naval Air Station, Seattle, a short time before the installations were completed. By the end of May, 1943, RACONS were in operation at the above Coast Guard units as well as at the Port Angeles Air Station and the Cape Flattery Light Station.

At the beginning of 1944, the Chief of Naval Operations directed the transfer of all Navy "pulse" equipment to the Coast Guard for operation and maintenance. The first RACON station to be transferred was the installation at Tillamook Naval Air Station which was assumed by the Coast Guard on 1 May, 1945. The stations at Shelton, Quillayute, Whidby Island, and Seattle in the state of Washington, and Astoria, and Oceanside in Oregon were transferred to the Coast Guard. Other RACON units were established subsequently in the 13th Naval District. At the conclusion of the war, various Auxiliary Stations were discontinued and the RACON stations at each were placed in caretaker status.

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units furnished the paint for camouflaging and structures. The last of the stations was returned to its normal peace time color by the end of the summer, 1945.

DISTRICT OFFICE PERSONNEL

Prior to, and for almost a year following the consolidation of the Lighthouse Service and the Coast Guard, the Aids to Navigation Section was administered by an Associate Mechanical Engineer with the assistance of two clerks and a stenographer. Both operational and engineering activities were combined in this section until the District was reorganized according to the Coast Guard organization plan. Engineering duties were then delegated to a separate Engineering Section and the operation and maintenance of aids to navigation became the responsibility of the Section. The Associate Mechanical Engineer, later promoted to Nautical Scientist, administered the department until the assignment of an Aids to Navigation Officer in 1944. Until that time, however the staff had increased to two Coast Guard Officers (R) (male) and one SPAR Officer, three enlisted Coast Guardsmen and six enlisted SPARS. In 1945, an Assistant Aids to Navigation Officer, trained especially in electronic aids was assigned to the section.

There was a little overlapping of activities between the Aids to Navigation Section and other departments, although its duties followed closely, in many instances, those of the Engineering Section, Vessel Operations, Port Security, Communications and Communications Engineering. These parallels were, respectively, in regards to surveying sites and deteraining??? structures, the movements of tenders, position of buoys and restricted areas, the monitoring of stations at North Head and Meadowdale and the activities of RACONS and the LORAN systems.

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ANRAC

The enforcement of blackout in the United States at the outbreak of the war necessitated that, in addition to the blackout of municipal lights, the navigational aids in continental waters had also to be extinguished or silenced. (See blackout). To perform this action by manual labor consumed far too much valuable time and so it became expedient that a more swift method be devised. By 1942, Headquarters developed a radio control system for aids to navigation intended primarily for blacking out unattended lighted aids by means of radio signal. This system consisted of a control station transmitting specially coded ultra high frequency signals with a special receiver mounted on the buoys or other aids which responded to code signals and operated relays of gas valves to extinguish or relight gas lights or to turn off or on other types of aids. The system was designated by the coined word "RACAN" which was later changed to ANRAC to avoid confusion with RADAR beacons or RACONS.

The receiving control, in combination with an electric relay, was used to operate an electric bell signal to notify light keepers at outlying stations, lamplighters or buoy patrols that aids were to be extinguished. Such installations at certain visual vantage points permitted the person notified to observe the extinguishment procedure and to take the necessary action in those cases where receiving equipment proved faulty. This system of notification was considered as a means of relieving commercial communications facilities and was carefully planned in order to avoid serious results in case of testing operations. Weekly operational tests were made and all failures were reported in detail to Headquarters.

A transmitter and a keying unit were required for each control station, together with an emergency standby. A single control transmitter operated all receiving controls within its working radius of approximately 7 miles even though it was not within visual range of the receiving station. (The working radius of the control transmitter beyond its visual range depended on the size and nature of the obstruction; ordinary obstacles did not materially affect the working radius of a control transmitter.)

After a thorough study of the use of ANRAC, the District Coast Guard Officer, 13th Naval District, requested Headquarters' authority to install the equipment with Cape Disappointment Light Station as the control unit and the following buoys to be equipped with receivers:

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SPECIAL BUOYS

RACONS (see following chapter) were primarily navigational aids for aircraft during the war years. However, since RADAR equipment was installed aboard Navy vessels, merchant ships, Coast Guard cutters and numerous other surface craft, it became another function of the Coast Guard to establish and maintain some sort of system to enable these ships to calibrate their RADAR equipment. A system of buoys equipped with targets or reflectors was developed by the Navy to furnish these vessels a means of testing their RADAR range and the alignment of the optical system with their RADAR antennae.

The first such buoy in the District established for the specific purpose of RADAR range calibration was placed in the west end of Dalco Passage in September, 1943. This buoy was installed at the request of the Seattle-Tacoma Shipyard and the Navy and was used mainly in the calibration of RADAR installations aboard newly constructed vessels. The buoy was an ordinary first class tall type can bearing no special equipment; it was in operation as long as the Seattle-Tacoma Shipyard was engaged in ship construction.

As the war progressed, the traffic of damaged vessels to the Puget Sound Navy Yard for repair, increased. The single buoy in Dalco Passage was found inadequate to meet calibration demands and its type was not entirely satisfactory. The need for additional RADAR calibration buoys was plainly evident due to the fact that RADAR installations aboard surface craft had also greatly increased. Using the regular first class can as a base, three more buoys, designed for RADAR calibration, were developed and located southeast of Blake Island. These buoys utilized the lighting equipment (Wallace and Tiernan) for use in can buoys and which had originally been purchased by the 13th Naval District for installation on Jefferson Point Degaussing Range. As buoys were stationed in waters through which towing vessels proceeding form the Tacoma-Olympia Area toward Seattle passed, small flags were installed to make the buoys more easily sighted by the towing boat operators. Although the buoys and lights were provided by the Coast Guard, the reflectors and additional floats were manufactured and installed by the Navy. The duty for maintaining the buoys and servicing the lights fall to the Coast Guard.

South of Willapa Bay, approximately 4 miles off the Washington Coast, a target buoy for aircraft RADAR calibration was placed on station in September, 1944. This target buoy was the only special buoy in the District not maintained for marine RADAR calibration alone. Installed temporarily at the request of the Naval Air Station, Astoria,

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RACON - LORAN

Of all the ingenious war developments which were diverted to peace time use, RACON and LORAN were the two which effected safer navigation for air and surface craft and were, therefore, the concern of the Aids to Navigation Section, both during and after the war.

RACONS (formed by the contraction of RAdar and BeaCON and not to be confused with RACAN, the initial terminology for ANRAC equipment)¹ had been established during the war years at Air Stations or Light Stations (or activities where the need for them was evident) along the coasts of North America, from Greenland to the West Indies, in the Hawaiian Islands and the Canal Zone. Military agencies were the sole users of RACONS until the conclusion of the war, at which time the use of RADAR was permitted to commercial concerns and, consequently, dictated the post war expansion of the RADAR beacon installations. Although many RACONS were discontinued at Air Stations which the Army or the Navy abandoned, more were eventually established along the routes of commercial aircraft.

Both the Army and Navy awaited eagerly the completion of RADAR and, when it was perfected, began installing it, ashore and afloat. It was not, however, until the early months of 1943, that the RACON program reached the Northwest Coast. Early in that year, the Navy had determined to establish RACONS on Coast Guard Light Stations at Cape Arago, Charleston, Oregon, Cape Blanco, Port Orford, Oregon, heceta Head, Florence, Oregon, and Yaquina Head, Agate Beach, Oregon. As the aerial activity in the 13th Naval District had increased rapidly, the RACONS were located at highly important navigational points and were regarded as a responsibility comparable to that of a light or radiobeacon. No additional personnel were required for the RACONS as the equipment itself needed very little attention. Although a continuous watch was necessary, the radio-telephone watch was able to maintain and operated the RACONS without hindrance to their other assigned duties. Sixteen Coast Guardsmen from the above mentioned Light Stations were schooled in operation and maintenance of RACON equipment at the one week training course at the Naval Air Station, Seattle, a short time before the installations were completed.

The installation of these early RACONS was supervised by the Air Officer, Northwest Sea Frontier. All equipment, including the converted power supply and its installation, were supplied through the Radio Material Officer, 13th Naval District. The Coast Guard's responsibility was to assign

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