Coast Guard District narrative histories 1945
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.
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.
The end of the war brought about the discontinuance of many Auxiliary Naval Air Stations. Those in the 13th Naval District with which the Aids to Navigation Section was particularly concerned were the Auxiliary Air Stations at Quillayute, Washington, Tillamook, Oregon and Shelton, Washington. Information received from the commander, Naval Air Bases, indicated that these three stations would be placed on a caretaker's status, meaning that 15 or 20 men would be assigned to the Air station at Quillayute, Washington, affected the RACON Station only in that the personnel assigned there were placed on subsistence and quarters and the RACON continued to give service to aircraft flying in that vicinity. However, as the beacon was located approximately three miles from the nearest water, it was doubtful that the station would be of any benefit to surface navigation. The Aids to Navigation Officer recommended that, in order to maintain the RACON for general air navigation, the beacon be moved to Destruction Island Light Station and there afford service for both air and sea navigation. Such a move would give added navigational RACON coverage and add a chain of RACON Stations for electronic navigation along the Coast.
The Tillamook RACON, as was seen earlier, provided limited coverage and was of little value except to the aircraft at the Air Station. The Aids to Navigation Officer recommended that the Tillamook RACON be decommissioned when RACON also provided limited service in much the same manner as the Quillayute beacon to cross-country flights. Whether or not it was to be continued, depended upon the investigation made by the Army and Navy authorities to determine their needs. There was little doubt that the Air Stations at Tillamook, Oregon, Quillayute, Washington and Shelton, Washington, would be discontinued.
Headquarters conducted a survey to determine what applications could be made of shore based RADAR to the performance of Coast Guard peace time functions. All types of applications were investigated in order that the fullest advantage might be taken of the latest electronics developments. The part RADAR had played to win the war was common knowledge. The part it would play during the postwar period was somewhat problematical and the subject of much speculation.