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Pages That Mention District Coast Guard Officer

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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Tests of the channel limiting group equipment were observed by the District Engineering and Marine Inspection Officers and it was their recommendation that it was worthwhile to establish and to put into use such an experimental range on the Columbia River. This was done at Arlington, Oregon, with Headquarters' approval, in the Spring of 1945. An investigation of the success of this type of range indicated that the majority of the operators preferred the old type regular center line lighted range of two boards. This preference, in the opinion of the District Coast Guard Office, was made primarily because of the lack of understanding and the use of the limiting channel range and, consequently, detailed printed instructions were issued to all operators in the Celilo-Pasco District where the Arlington range was located. As a result, more favorable comments were received in regard to the use of the limiting channel lights, but, notwithstanding, Headquarters would not authorize their establishment on other ranges where the two-board range was impracticable because of the terrain. This policy, which Headquarters adopted, left areas in the Columbia River unsafe for navigation as the lights and markings which could be established there provided only inadequate coverage.

INCREASE OF AIDS AND CHANNEL IMPROVEMENTS

Recommendations for the increase of aids to insure safety of mariners in the Upper Columbia were presented to the District Coast Guard Officer and Headquarters by the Board of Survey. Headquarters felt that complete justification for the project as a whole, as being vital to the war effort, had not been furnished, and requested that a complete list of all shipping interests concerned, the extent of their operations, and a list of all government agencies involved there in the war interest, be furnished. Letters from navigation companies indicating the large burdens placed on water carriers to transport the required petroleum products to Army and Navy installations on the Columbia were forwarded to Headquarters together with freight tonnages and traffic statistics. The proposed improvements were then approved and an appropriation of $50,000 was granted. (June, 1940). Additional appropriations were granted later.

The Snake River, which enters the Columbia just south of Pasco, Washington, was not navigable except during high water from the middle of March to the middle of July. At the time of the survey, the U. S. Army Engineers were contemplating the improvement of the Snake River by providing a

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miles from Mason City to the Canadian border. A question arose as to whether or not Roosevelt Lake constituted part of "the navigable waters of the United States" as interpreted by the laws. In March, 1944, the Law Officer advised that Roosevelt Lake was navigable and, together with the Columbia River which flows into it and gives rise to it, furnished a water way for foreign commerce. With this fact established, it became necessary to establish aids to navigation along the lengths of this lake. At that time, there was very little traffic on Roosevelt Reservoir but it was the opinion of local marine interests that the traffic was bound to increase not only commercially but in pleasure craft following the war. Numerous hazards existed that made travel especially dangers under the conditions as they then existed. In a meeting between the Superintendent of the Coulee Dam and representatives of the District Coast Guard Officer, location were proposed for spar buoys to be anchored in the lake and provide the shortest run from Grand Coulee Dam to Kettle Falls, Washington. These locations were consistent with assumed limitations of 20 feet of water at buoy locations with a maximum reservoir drawdown at elevation 1208 and a minimum distance between the buoys 1/2 mile; the normal elevation of the reservoir when full is 1290. An investigation made by the Aids to Navigation Officer determined that 27 lights and 10 reflectors would suffice to mark the lake. The Bureau of Reclamation was in favor of the establishment of 51 buoys but the District Coast Guard Officer felt that buoys would be impracticable for several reasons. Due to the lowering of the water to different levels which would cause different shoal areas to appear and changes would have to be made in the buoys to keep the channel safely and effectively marked. Furthermore, the mountainous land area which formed the bottom of the lake together with the deep water, rendered use of buoys inadvisable; for in many places the buoys would be moored in over 200 feet of water which would require large buoys and, consequently, the services of a buoy tender. Unlighted buoys were not considered, for, as such, they would be inadequate. For these reasons then the Aids to Navigation Officer determined that the 27 lights and 10 reflectors would be adequate. These lighted aids would consist of a battery box on a concrete foundation with a 200mm lantern with a focal plane of 12 feet. Aids were to display a white light of 90 candlepower, flashing either every 4 seconds, 6 seconds or 10 seconds, and were to be serviced by the Seattle Operating Base twice a year with half of the batter cells being relieved at a time. The Bureau of Reclamation extended the use of one of its boats to be used in establishing these aids and in the servicing of them.

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Work in this area was not begun until the later part of the Summer, but the operators, in the early Spring, began to urge that some assistance be given them as the waters were entirely without navigational aids and it was necessary to maintain a regular service including night travel in the transportation of lumber and direct war supplies. Due to the lack of lights, the operators were constantly damaging marine equipment and retarding the flow of this important traffic. Marine Inspectors had established Coast Guard Operating Regulations in this area and operators were finding it almost impossible to comply with these regulations under the circumstances. They pointed out that the installations of equipment such as were direly needed in the Roosevelt Lake were being made in other inland waters where cargo, generally, did not have the high war rating as in their area. They understood that complete coverage of the area could be made. In spite of the urgency of this request, the District Coast Guard Officer did not feel that temporary measures could be taken and, consequently, Roosevelt Dam aids were not established until August, 1945. The War Department issued a permit for a boom to be established below Peach to catch any drift from the Upper Columbia River before it reached the Dam. Brush so caught by the boom was to be dragged ashore and disposed of by burning. The boom was to be installed in two sections, one slightly upstream from the other, but overlapping its length so as to permit boats to pass around the ends of the boom on their way either up or down the river. Headquarters, at the request of the War Department recommended that the District prescribe such lights or signals as were necessary. The District Coast Guard recommended the reflector type lens which required no electric or automatic power for operation.

In December, 1944, a representative of the Aids to Navigation Office surveyed the area of Coeur d' Alene, Idaho, for navigational lights on the lake. As a result, it was determined that lights and reflectors were necessary as there was considerable traffic in lumber and war supplies. Before approval was received from Headquarters for these installations, a second survey was made, approximately six months later, to determine the exact locations. (It had been impossible and impracticable to spot exact locations in the December Survey.) The results of the second investigation were that 9 lights were proposed, subject to Headquarters' approval. Headquarters, however, did not favor the proposed program for aids to navigation in Coeur d' Alene as there did not seem to be sufficient traffic bearing on the war effort and also because the war was drawing to a close. (13 August, 1945). Headquarters indicated that if sufficient evidence was presented for the need for aids in that area at some future date, the program would be given consideration.

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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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