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Coast Guard District narrative histories 1945
At the time of the consolidation of the Lighthouse Service and the Coast Guard, the Seattle District operated nine land-based radio beacons and four radio beacons on the lightships. Two beacons were under construction at Destruction Island (completed in 1943) and at Willapa Bay (completed in 1941). Two more radio beacons were authorized in 1942, one at Cape Flattery (Tatoosh Island) and one at West Point. In the middle of 1945, the radio beacon at Ediz Hook was established, bringing the total number of District radio beacons to 18. However, at the onset of the war, the Navy removed the lightships from the Umatilla Reef and Swiftsure Bank thus leaving only 16 beacons in operation. Of these 16, one was maintained by the RELIEF LIGHTSHIP and used alternatively on the Columbia River station.
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Radio beacon equipment at Tatoosh Island
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.
In the quite rapid succession, Umpqua River, Willapa Bay, Smith Island, Ediz Hook, Cape Arago, Cape Blanco, Point No Point, Point Wilson, and Yaquina Bay Lighthouses were built. In 1879, construction began on the Tillamook Rock Beacon.
Tillamook Rock Lighthouse was one of the most famous as well as one of the most exposed stations in the Lighthouse Service, set on a great precipitous rock lying a mile offshore from Tillamook Head on the Oregon Coast. A dark cloud of ill omen shadowed the station as, in the landing of the construction party, the superintendent was swept by a great wave into the sea and drowned. Almost insurmountable obstacles faced the engineers, for the entire top of the rock mass had to be blasted level to provide space for the lighthouse and its accompanying structures. Heavy seas continually washed over the Rock carrying away half finished foundations, equipment and endangering the lives of the entire work party. Although the light stood 133 feet above the water, on many occasions tremendous waves swept completely over the station carrying large fragments of rock which caused considerable damage to the station. On one such occasion, a rock weighting 135 pounds was hurled through the roof of the building and into the quarters below, causing extensive damage. Another time, the sea tossed a boulder through the lantern, extinguished the light and flooded the dwelling below.
West Point, built in 1881, Alki Point and Brown Point, built in 1887 and Destruction Island, built in 1891, were the next light stations to be erected. Here again, at Destruction Island, treacherous seas made landings difficult except in calm weather, so the "basket" and boom were again called upon for safe landings on the station. 14 other lighthouses were established in the Seattle District, the last being the Lim Kiln structure in 1914. Strangely enough, the Lime Kiln Lighthouse was the last light station in the District operating an oil lantern. An attempt was made to electrify the light by extending commercial power to the Station but the Power Company was unable to furnish sufficient current; in the same regard, poles had to be set in a solid rock and the cost and labor for this were almost prohibitive. A request was made for Headquarters' approval to install a power plant at the unit but this was not commensurate with Headquarters' policy so the light remained an incandescent oil vapor type. This type, familiarly known as i.o.v., gave good service although its range could not match that of the newer electric light. The old i.o.v. light came in two sizes and was approximately equivalent
The early conception of the mariners, that all aids to navigation must be received by the normal senses of sight and sound, was radically changed by the development of the radiobeacon system which has, since its inception in 1921, become recognized as a most important innovation for increased safety for mariners. As radio signals are not obscured by fog, wind, rain, snow or temperature changes, and bearings may be taken at great distances far beyond the horizon, the radiobeacon had great advantages over previous types of navigational aids. Proof of its efficiency lay in the fact that since its inception approximately a quarter of a century ago, the radiobeacon system was adopted by all maritime nations and direction finders were developed to fit not only the requirements of large ocean liners, but small pleasure craft and fisherman's vessels as well.
At the time of the consolidation of the Lighthouse Service and the Coast Guard, the Seattle District operated nine-land-based radiobeacons and four radiobeacons on the lightships at Swiftsure Bank, Umatilla Reef and the entrance to the Columbia River. Two beacons were under construction at Destruction Island (completed in 1943) and at Willapa Bay (completed in 1941). Two more radiobeacons were authorized in 1842, one at Cape Flattery (Tatoosh Island) and one at West Point. In the middle of 1945, the radiobeacon at Ediz Hook was established, bringing the total number of District radiobeacons to 18. However, at the onset of the war, the Navy removed the lightships from Umatilla Reef and Swiftsure Bank thus leaving only 16 beacons in operation. Of these 16, one was maintained by the RELIEF LIGHTSHIP and used alternately on the Columbia River station.
In an effort to increase, to even a greater degree, the efficiency of the radiobeacon system throughout the United States, headquarters urged that a monitor system be developed and put into operation in each District. Subsequently, a monitor station was established at North head Radio Station which checked the performance of all District radiobeacons. Between 0800 to 1100 and 1500 to 1900 daily, each radiobeacon was monitored, the time for the check being staggered to insure a truer picture of the various beacons' performance. Outlying stations were notified daily of all failures or defects in the radiobeacons' operation. These reports were a District innovation and were not required by Headquarters but were merely another measure adopted by the District Coast Guard Office for increased efficiency in the District system.
Columbia River Outside Bar Ltd.Bell Buoy Main Channel Lighted Whistle Buoy 2 Clatsop Spit Lighted Whistle Buoy 6 Peacock Spit Lighted Bell Buoy 7 Clatsop Spit Lighted Whistle Buoy 10 Clatsop Spit Lighted Whistle Buoy 10A Peacock Spit Lighted Bell Buoy 9 Clatsop Spit Lighted Whistle Buoy 12 Clatsop Spit Lighted Whistle Buoy 14 Desdemona Sands Lighted Bell Buoy 11
It took approximately eight months for the delivery of the major ANRAC items to the District and it was not until March, 1944, that the first two ANRAC equipped buoys were placed on station. All maintenance and repair work for this initial installation of special buoy equipment was handled at the Tongue Point Repair Base. Maintenance personnel from this yard kept a running record sheet of both buoys together with a battery record for which a new calendar marking system was adopted. The ANRAC equipped buoys were placed on station in accordance with the normal buoy replacement schedule and for this reason, although other buoys were equipped with the ANRAC receivers at that time, they were not set out.
In the meantime, the Commandant, 13th Naval District, had ordered the relighting of buoys in Grays Harbor and Willapa Bay Areas which had been blacked out for security. This action was necessary to facilitate the movement of marine traffic related to the war effort. On the other hand, experience had demonstrated that certain hazards to defense activities were created by the inability to black out lights promptly. Since the lights in this area might have been of inestimable value to hostile craft, and, in order to circumvent any such use being made of the lights, it appeared necessary that arrangements be made for their blacking out expeditiously. Experience had further demonstrated the impracticability of getting the lights extinguished in any kind of reasonable time, except for shooting them out. In one test case, it was a matter of five days before some of the buoys could be approached without the possibility of seriously damaging a boat or buoy or injuring personnel. For these reasons, the District Coast Guard Officer requested Headquarters to install ANRAC on the following lights where other means could not be utilized to obtain reasonable prompt extinguishment:
Grays Harbor Lighted Whistle Buoy 1 Grays Harbor North Bar Lighted Whistle Buoy NC Grays Harbor Outside Bar Ltd. Whistle Buoy GH Willapa Bay Lighted Whistle Buoy 1 WIllapa Bay Lighted Whistle Buoy 12 Willapa Bay Lighted Bell Buoy 14 Willapa Bay Lighted Bell Buoy 18
Headquarters approved the Grays Harbor and Willapa Bay Project, but, the equipment was held up until the middle of 1944. (The buoys were meanwhile equipped with brackets so that installation could be completed shortly after receipt of the transmitters.) Headquarters also indicated at that time that ANRAC installations, other than Columbia Bar, had not been anticipated for the 13th Naval District and that since ANRAC had been developed principally because of potential hostile air attacks, it was to be applied only to those unattended lights on floating and fixed aids which were grouped to form patterns giving lines of orientation. It was not to be applied to relight or control lights of comparatively low intensity which were not readily recognizable to locate strategic areas or indicate definite bearings. Headquarters advised that further requests for ANRAC installations would not be favorably received.
By early 1944, blackout requirements in certain areas were materially reduced but no indication existed that such restrictions might not again be imposed. It was, therefore, desirable to continue the ANRAC program. The Coast Guard investment in ANRAC represented a considerable amount and a fair test of ANRAC in localities adjacent to better service facilities was necessary, in any case, to accomplish the ANRAC program as planned and to prove the equipment for use in remote areas where need for same continued to exist. Headquarters realized the difficulties encountered in pursuing the program due to shortage of servicing facilities but it desired that the ANRAC program be brought to a logical conclusion. ANRAC installations were modified only to the extent that aids of lesser importance were ANRAC equipped and field tested before the program was extended to include all aids in the original plan. Sufficient aids of lesser importance were field tested to determine the effectiveness of ANRAC under varying conditions. Daily preliminary tests of ANRAC equipment on the Columbia River bar buoys indicated that their performance was entirely satisfactory. However, due to the fact that there was probably less that 5% of the time in the fall of the year and continuing through the winter that all of the controlled buoys could be seen from Cape Disappointment, it appeared that a questionable situation would be created by extinguishing the lights on these buoys
that an outage on any one of these buoys created a difficult situation and also because the necessity for an emergency blackout seemed extremely doubtful, this action seemed practicable. At the same time, it was requested that Headquarters postpone indefinitely the installation of the ANRAC equipment on buoys at the entrance of Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor as the equipment had not yet been placed on the buoys due to delay in installing the related control equipment on shore. This action, to remove ANRAC from Columbia River, Grays Harbor and Willapa Bay, was approved but the request for the installation of ANRAC on the five fog signals was not. Authority was granted, however, to equip Browns Point Light Station, newar Tacoma, Washington, as a control point for fog signals at Tacoma Waterway, Alki Point, near Seattle, Washington, as control station for Duwamish Head Fog Signal, Point No Point, Hansville, Washington, as control station for Double Bluff Lighted Trumpet Buoy and Point Adams, Hammond, Oregon, as control station for Desdemona Sands Fog Signal. A form No. 2609 for the installation at Duwamish Head was forwarded to Headquarters. No further action was taken by the District Coast Guard Officer on other points approved by Headquarters.
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,