Coast Guard District narrative histories 1945
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.
The District Liaison Officer suggested a system for the control of coastal lighthouses as employed by the Canadian Navy to be initiated in a similar way for U. S. Lighthouses. The Canadian Plan consisted of a broadcast three times a day at regular hours to all lighthouse keepers along the Coast. The system was divided into lettered plans; i.e., Plan "A" meant to keep lights burning bright, "B", submarine scare and all lights must be extinguished, etc. The District Coast Guard Officer did not accept this recommendation as the District plan then in use provided for extinguishment or relighting of any or all lights on a few minutes advance notice. The District system had the following advantages:
(a) It provided more positive communication and means of checking receipt of instruction.
(b) It provided greater security and more flexibility of instruction.
(c) It did not depend on any outside agency.
Proposals for dimming coastal lights were di(s)approved because of the unlighted gaps between lights which would have existed when the lights were dimmed.
A test blackout was held in March, 1942, for all Lifeboat and Light Stations. As a result of this test, it was decided that Seattle Radio Station, Westport, would, in the future, broadcast a whistle blast preceding the instructions for blackout. Upon hearing the whistle over the air, all personnel standing radio watches were instructed to copy the message which followed and notify their Commanding Officers. Because of the possibility that telephone communications between Lifeboat and Light Stations might not be available at the time a blackout was ordered, all Light Stations which were radio-equipped were ordered to maintain a radio watch during the entire time the light was burning.
Revisions of the Blackout Plan^1 were made periodically to keep each section of the District cognizant of any changes in that particular area. After each revision, holders of Blackout Plans were ordered to destroy copies of previous Plans by burning. In 1945, a complete coverage of state railroad bridges, covering the area as far east as the Cascades, was completed and included in the Plan. It was advised by the Aids to Navigation Officer that similar blackout regulations be continues during peace time so that any confusion, in the event of a similar emergency, might be eliminated. It was further recommended that tests of the Plan be made occasionally be effecting a total blackout as there was no