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Pages That Mention 13th Naval district

Coast Guard District narrative histories 1945

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Causes of radiobeacon failures were generally easily repairs, but it was the duration of these failures which the District Coast Guard Office worked incessantly to overcome. Monitor stations experienced great difficulty, at times, in notifying an offending station of its inoperation due to the frequent inability to make radio contact with the radiobeacon station which necessitated routing the message through other stations or agencies. Heavy storms in the area destroyed telephone communication and on occasion, visual signals had to be relayed to certain stations. Alarm units, as noted above, were not perfected, so frequently radiobeacon stations were unaware of their defective operation until notified by the Monitor Station. Had there been some means for notifying, under all conditions, the radiobeacon station of its faulty operation immediately after the failure was detected, the duration of faulty operation would have been greatly reduced.

Although the radiobeacons in this District were not operating at 100% efficiency, it was the opinion of the District Office that the beacons were operating on a par with beacons throughout the continental United States. This was determined by the reports from mariners and airmen who used beacons as navigational aids and was also due to the determination of the Aids to Navigation Officer to increase the efficiency of the beacons.

A radiobeacon buoy with a working range from 7 to 50 miles had been developed and was considered in the 13th Naval District the year before the war. Trials were made on batteries in some of the rough waters along the coast and on the Columbia River Bar. The batteries proved too fragile so dry packs were tested; these, too, developed defects. As the packs cost $40.00 a piece, much experimentation proved too costly. The District Coast Guard Officer saw the advantage of a perfected radiobeacon buoy in that a string of such buoys along the coast, 15 to 20 miles apart on the 30 fathom curve, would eliminate the necessity of the UMATILLA REEF LIGHTSHIP; the removal of the Lightship would counteract the use of tenders servicing the equipment (buoys had to be serviced every 4 months), as well as the cost. The Aids to Navigation Officer and the District Coast Guard Officer were both in favor of the establishment of a radiobeacon buoy at Grays Harbor Entrance where there had been considerable agitation for a Lightship; this station was within easy run for the CGC MANZANITA. Had the buoy proved applicable to conditions at Grays Harbor, buoys could have easily been installed at Duntze Rock, Yaquina Bay, Tillamook Rock, Umpqua, Coos Bay and Wherever tender equipment was available.

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BLACKOUT

"Blackout" entered the universal vocabulary with the advent of World War II, although, it had, in some degree, been used in all previous wars. The blacking out of municipal lights became the activity of the Civilian Defense Organization, but the problem of extinguishing lights on river and railroad bridges and the blacking out and silencing of navigational aids fell to the Coast Guard. Accordingly, The Commandant advised all Districts in October, 1940, that plans for the extinguishment of lighted aids and the silencing of sound signals were to be prepared in the event of a serious national emergency. In the 13th Naval District, a Board was immediately organized for the purpose of making a study of meeting any emergency which called for the purpose of interruption of the operation of navigational aids in the Seattle District, including all Canadian aids in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The District Coast Guard Officer ordered this Board to study the Strategic areas of the Columbia River entrance, to study several bar harbor entrances, San Juan Islands and the Puget Sound Area, and to formulate a Blackout Plan. The Plan was submitted to the Commandant, 13th Naval District for approval, as the Coast Guard operated its blackout through the Senior Naval Officer of the District.

This Blackout Plan, as approved in September, 1941, divided the District into seven areas, designated as Blacks One to Seven, and each Black was further subdivided into seven sections indicated by letter so that any part of any area could be blacked out separately. The "S" Code, developed previously by Communications for exclusive use in this District, was enlarged to accommodate blackout activities in all communication between Coast Guard units. For example, if all aids in the District were to be blacked out, the "S" signal was "Signal 26"; if the lights were to be blacked out and the sound signals silenced, the "S" signal was "Signal 138". If a blackout was designated in Black One Area, the signal was "Signal 26-1A", etc. An "S" Code Signal Book was published for issuance to all units. Appropriate "S" signals were also prepared for the relighting of all aids.

Radiobeacons were not silenced under the general blackout but were covered by individual instructions to the Commanding Officers as required. Although an effort was made to cover all aids, it was understood that aids omitted or aids established after the Plan was distributed were to

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be blacked out by the unit having charge of that area. Commanding Officers were instructed to exercise their best judgement in the assignment of trucks, tenders, or small boats and these assignments were determined in advance.

Commanding Officers were further directed to familiarize themselves with the aids in their area, securing keys necessary for entrance to equipment and to properly instruct personnel under their command, in order that the blackout could be carried out smoothly and expeditiously. Sound buoys were silenced by securely lashing bell clappers or air intakes and whistles were wrapped with canvas and securely lashed. The District Coast Guard Office was to be notified by dispatch when the blackout had been effected or aids had been relighted, in accordance with District orders.

In October, 1941, a conference was held at Tongue Point Depot, Astoria, Oregon, to instruct personnel from that area in the operations required of the various types of aids to navigation to effect the Blackout Plan. A blackout drill of all units under command of the Astoria Base was held on October 22, 1941. Each aid was visited and examined by the personnel assigned thereto to ascertain type of equipment, the correct way to make the aid inoperative and the tools and materials required. During the practice, only an examination was made and the operation of the aids was not stopped. This was the only test of its kind in the 13th Naval District prior to the outbreak of the war.

On 9 December, 1941, a blackout was effected in the entire District on instructions from the District Commandant. Three officers, together with a small staff of enlisted personnel, issued instructions to the various Commands from the Aids to Navigation Office. Orders for the blackout were received at 1400 and, by 2200, the blackout was completely effected. Tremendous obstacles were encountered, there having been no previous test of the Plan as set by the Board in September. Bridges throughout the District were blacked out, although no plan had incorporated such procedure and railroad officials as well as highway superintendents offered little cooperation. No word was received from the blacked areas as to the time their aids were extinguished nor was word received that they had been relighted following the blackout. This was due to the inability of telephone and radio facilities to handle such heavy traffic. No report was required concerning the results of the operation and a general blackout, other than tests in various areas, was every made in the District.

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assurance that the plan in use was, by actual test, perfected. This recommendation was made to the Navy by the Aids to Navigation Officer in the early period of the war; the recommendation suggested that such a trial be made during the summer and in daylight when weather conditions would not necessitate mariners' dependence on lights or sound aids. This proposal was not approved.

Although at the cessation of hostilities, the Blackout lost its purpose for existence, the Plan was kept current in the even there should again be use for it. A complete revision, however, was necessary as the "S" signal for blacking out and relighting aids was cancelled by the Communications Officer. Without the "S" signal, the Plan in effect at the end of the war was not feasible. The Commandant, 13th Naval District, ordered the Port Townsend and Oak Bay aids relighted, an act which virtually ended the Blackout as these were the last two extinguished aids to return to operation. The Blackout had served well.

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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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