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Coast Guard District narrative histories 1945
Two fine tenders were commissioned and attached to the 13th Naval District during the war, the BASSWOOD, 1944, and the BLUEBELL, the following year. The Basswood was transferred after a year's general aide to navigation duty which involved servicing the isolated units and the LORAN project on Vancouver Island. In addition to these large tenders, the CO-65302-D was added and employed in buoy work and the maintenance of minor aids on the Upper Columbia River between The Dalles, Oregon and Pasco, Washington.
With the scarcity of Coast Guard Cutters in this district during the war, a vast amount of the assistance work fell upon the tenders. The increased size of the fishing fleet had the effect of causing more rescue operations, and in these, the tenders did an extraordinarily fine job.
(Photo inserted here)
Bringing a buoy in for overhaul aboard a tender
It was the intention of the Coast Guard to make the most possible use of RADAR and other electronics devices in order to increase the efficiency of its public services. One shore base installation was established and two installations were tentatively scheduled to be used as an experimental setup to determine whether necessary coverage could be provided for air-sea rescue operation.
The District Coast Guard Officer of each District was directed to investigate the possible application of shore based RADAR to the particular problems of his district. Consideration was given to the need of air-sea rescue to provide warning of potential or real distress, to determine the assistance to possible control of shipping in and around harbors and the use of RADAR as a supplementary aid for coastal lookout as well as in checking the position of navigational or any other applications which would increase the efficiency of Coast Guard functions. Results of these investigations by the District Coast Guard Officer were submitted to Headquarters in order that no phase of application be overlooked in the overall study.
The end of the war found the District not only operating fourteen RACON stations but a new electronic aid, LORAN, with stations at Cape Blanco, Oregon; Point Grenville, Washington; and Spring Island, Vancouver, B. C. A Monitor Station for LORAN had been set up at Yaquina Head, Oregon. Installation and supervision of LORAN was controlled entirely by Headquarters. However, on survey trips to determine sites for the various stations, representatives of the District Coast Guard Officer, 13th Naval District, had been present. The original installations at the aforementioned stations were temporary, in that they were mobile units, contracts having been let to private industry for the construction of permanent stations. The Aids to Navigation Office distributed 1500 temporary LORAN navigation charts covering the coast from Cape Blanco to Spring Island to Army, Navy, and Canadian Air Stations, as well as to innumerable warships.
CAMOUFLAGE OF LIGHT STATIONS
Early in the war, the Commandant, 13th Naval District, ordered the concealment of painting of ten of the Light Stations that were near military areas or war industries. The walls were "toned down" with gray and the space under the eaves painted black to accentuate the silouette of the station as it appeared from the water. (Tongue Point Repair Base was provided with a camouflage net to cover the wharves where vari-colored buoys and markers were stored. This base was in the vicinity of the Naval Air Station, Astoris, and the work was done in conjunction with assistance from that activity). Army activities near Coast Guard
units furnished the paint for camouflaging and structures. The last of the stations was returned to its normal peace time color by the end of the summer, 1945.
DISTRICT OFFICE PERSONNEL
Prior to, and for almost a year following the consolidation of the Lighthouse Service and the Coast Guard, the Aids to Navigation Section was administered by an Associate Mechanical Engineer with the assistance of two clerks and a stenographer. Both operational and engineering activities were combined in this section until the District was reorganized according to the Coast Guard organization plan. Engineering duties were then delegated to a separate Engineering Section and the operation and maintenance of aids to navigation became the responsibility of the Section. The Associate Mechanical Engineer, later promoted to Nautical Scientist, administered the department until the assignment of an Aids to Navigation Officer in 1944. Until that time, however the staff had increased to two Coast Guard Officers (R) (male) and one SPAR Officer, three enlisted Coast Guardsmen and six enlisted SPARS. In 1945, an Assistant Aids to Navigation Officer, trained especially in electronic aids was assigned to the section.
There was a little overlapping of activities between the Aids to Navigation Section and other departments, although its duties followed closely, in many instances, those of the Engineering Section, Vessel Operations, Port Security, Communications and Communications Engineering. These parallels were, respectively, in regards to surveying sites and deteraining??? structures, the movements of tenders, position of buoys and restricted areas, the monitoring of stations at North Head and Meadowdale and the activities of RACONS and the LORAN systems.
I LIGHT STATIONS 1 II LIGHTSHIPS 14 III RADIOBEACONS 18 IV UPPER COLUMBIA RIVER 25 V BLACKOUT 39 VI ANRAC 45 VII SPECIAL BUOYS 51 VIII RACON-LORAN 56 IX LOCAL NOTICES TO MARINERS 68 X BUOY CARD FILE SYSTEM 69 XI TENDERS 75 XII STANDARDIZATION OF MINOR AIDS 80 XIII PERSONNEL OF AIDS TO NAVIGATION SECTION 83 XIV CHAPTER NOTES 1,11
The "romance" of the old Lighthouse has been lost, for the most part, by the mechanization of the lights and the modernization of related equipment. Isolated lighthouse sites have radio or telephone communication, motor launches, and electrically operated lights or signals. The oil lantern has been superceded and supplemented by radio aids - raidobeacons, RADAR beacons and LORAN. In addition to the lights' rays, there are "pips" and "blips" and "pulses" to guide the mariner to safety. However, though these electronic aids be far more reaching and provide greater accuracy than the light, they can never instill the same warm rush of relief and thanksgiving that fills the sailor's heart when the first pale rays of a familiar light beacon breaks through the fog and rain after anxious hours on a stormy sea.
When the Lighthouse Service consolidated with the Coast Guard, 31 major light stations were among the facilities transferred to the Seattle District.¹ Many of these Light Stations had tales of heroism, danger and tragedy woven into their histories. The oldest of these stations were the lights at Cape Disappointment and New Dungeness, completed in 1856 as the first activity of the Lighthouse Service in the new frontier - the Pacific Northwest.
The New Dungeness Lighthouse was built in 1857 on a spit off the south shore of the Strait of Juan de Fuca near the entrance to Puget Sound. Cape Disappointment Beacon was constructed on the only headland of the low beach between Tillamook Head and Point Grenville (80 miles), on the north point of the entrance to the Columbia River. The following year, another lighthouse was erected on Tatoosh Island just off the tip of Cape Flattery. The Island had previously been used as a whaling station and fishing headquarters by the Indians who had been, until then, the sole inhabitants. Before the Lighthouse was built, a blockade was established and muskets furnished to the workmen as protection against marauding Indians. The first Keeper of the station resigned because of the "annoyances" he and the other 3 white men suffered at the hands of the 250 Indians living there. Because of the treacherous waters and shoals, the easiest access to the Island was by a huge basket. In calm weather, boats could land on the beach but the basket method was the more dependable. This was by no means a "primitive" devise, for the basket and its hoist are still the best means to effect a landing.
Of all the ingenious war developments which were diverted to peace time use, RACON and LORAN were the two which effected safer navigation for air and surface craft and were, therefore, the concern of the Aids to Navigation Section, both during and after the war.
RACONS (formed by the contraction of RAdar and BeaCON and not to be confused with RACAN, the initial terminology for ANRAC equipment)¹ had been established during the war years at Air Stations or Light Stations (or activities where the need for them was evident) along the coasts of North America, from Greenland to the West Indies, in the Hawaiian Islands and the Canal Zone. Military agencies were the sole users of RACONS until the conclusion of the war, at which time the use of RADAR was permitted to commercial concerns and, consequently, dictated the post war expansion of the RADAR beacon installations. Although many RACONS were discontinued at Air Stations which the Army or the Navy abandoned, more were eventually established along the routes of commercial aircraft.
Both the Army and Navy awaited eagerly the completion of RADAR and, when it was perfected, began installing it, ashore and afloat. It was not, however, until the early months of 1943, that the RACON program reached the Northwest Coast. Early in that year, the Navy had determined to establish RACONS on Coast Guard Light Stations at Cape Arago, Charleston, Oregon, Cape Blanco, Port Orford, Oregon, heceta Head, Florence, Oregon, and Yaquina Head, Agate Beach, Oregon. As the aerial activity in the 13th Naval District had increased rapidly, the RACONS were located at highly important navigational points and were regarded as a responsibility comparable to that of a light or radiobeacon. No additional personnel were required for the RACONS as the equipment itself needed very little attention. Although a continuous watch was necessary, the radio-telephone watch was able to maintain and operated the RACONS without hindrance to their other assigned duties. Sixteen Coast Guardsmen from the above mentioned Light Stations were schooled in operation and maintenance of RACON equipment at the one week training course at the Naval Air Station, Seattle, a short time before the installations were completed.
The installation of these early RACONS was supervised by the Air Officer, Northwest Sea Frontier. All equipment, including the converted power supply and its installation, were supplied through the Radio Material Officer, 13th Naval District. The Coast Guard's responsibility was to assign
Hours of Use or No. of Interrogations of Existing CO RACON Stations (June - August, 1915)
June July August Arago 12 hrs. 7 hrs. 3 hrs. Astoria 30 inter. 76 inter. 112 inter. Blanco 50 inter. 20 inter. 16 inter. Heceta Head 12 hrs.22 min. 5 hrs. 43 min 5 hrs. 48 min. Port Angeles 91 hrs. 60 hrs. 65 hrs. Quillayute Not. estbd. 7 hrs. 15 hrs. 45 min. Shelton 4 hrs. 284 inter. 112 inter. Tillamook 26 hrs. 40 hrs. 25 hrs. Yaquina Head 12 hrs. 8 hrs. 6 hrs.
*Decrease in usage is probably due to gradual reduction in the training program following V-E Day. These figures were taken from monthly reports submitted to Headquarters.
Two Model PBY5A planes were specially equipped by Headquarters with appropriate RADAR equipment required for the purpose of flight calibration for the RACONS, and with LORAN receivers for use in LORAN system checking. These planes were assigned from Headquarters to check RACONS on the West Coast and Alaska; the first of these, RADAR RACHEL, arrived in the District in May, 1945. Flight test procedure required that approimately 8 bearings be selected and runs, at various altitudes, be made on these bearings so that the area entirely surrounding the RACON was covered. Data of the test, together with a graphic plot were prepared for each calibration and forwarded via the Aids to Navigation Officer to Headquarters. Results of tests made in the 13th Naval District were as shown below. Three District LORAN Units were checked but data regarding these tests did not pass through the District Office as those units operated directly under Headquarters. (See LORAN).
RACON "A" Band "B" Band Antenna Maximum Station Model Coverage Coverage Elevation Range Astoria, YJ 49 North 89 North 750 65 "A" Ore. 65 East 92 East 50 South 71 South 60 West 127 West
It was the intention of the Coast Guard to make the most possible use of RADAR and other electronic devices in order to increase the efficiency of its public services, One shore base installation was established and two installations were tentatively scheduled to be used as an experimental setup to determine whether necessary coverage could be provided for air sea rescue operation. No program other than experimental had been devised for furnishing coverage for the protection of small craft along the coast and in the harbors.
The District Coast Guard Officer of each District was directed to investigate the possible applications of shore based RADAR to the particular problems of his District. Consideration was given to the need of air sea rescue to provide warning of potential or real distress, to determine the assistance to possible control of shipping in and around harbors and the use of RADAR as a supplementary aid for coastal lookout as well as in checking the positions of navigational or any other applications which would increase the efficiency of Coast Guard functions. Results of these investigations by the District Coast Guard Officers were submitted to Headquarters in order that no phase of RADAR application was overlooked in overall study.
The end of the war found the District not only operating 14 RACON Stations, but a new electronic aid, LORAN, with stations at Cape Blanco, Oregon, Point Grenville, Washington and Spring Island in Vancouver, B.C. A Monitor Station for LORAN had been set up at Yaquina Head, Oregon. Installation and supervision of LORAN was controlled entirely by Headquarters. However, on survey trips to determine sites for the various stations, representative of the District Coast Guard Officer, 13th Naval District, had been present. The original installations at the aforementioned stations were temporary, in that they were mobile units, contracts having been let to private industry for the construction of permanent stations. The aids to Navigation Office distributed 1500 temporary LORAN navigation charts covering the coast from Cape Blanco to Spring Island to Army, Navy and Canadian Air Stations, as well as innumerable warships. These two stations were the "Slaves" with the "Master Station" located at Point Grenville, Washington. Headquarters Detachment "G", which was in supervision of the District LORAN Units, operated with headquarters at Newport, Oregon. All stations operated on a 2H4 rate. Favorable reports were received from mariners who had picked up the pulse from the mobile units at great distances at sea.
Indirectly, the Aids to Navigation Section figured in installation of the LORAN on Spring Island off the coast of British Vancouver. Equipment to be moved to the Island from Seattle included trucks, jeeps, weapon carriers, Quonset Huts, materials and equipment for clearing land as well as supplies for 34 men to be stationed there during temporary service. The only ship available in the District for the transporting of these supplies and men, was the tender BASSWOOD. The BASSWOOD made several voyages to transfer equipment until the tender was assigned to the South Pacific, (see tenders), and an Army Freight Ship was sent as relief. The completion of Spring Island as a LORAN Station added another link in the LORAN system covering the West Coast from Mexico through Alaska.
In addition to its previous peace time function, the Aids to Navigation Section, had expanded to include in its duties the 14 RACON Stations maintenance and operation as well as three LORAN Stations together with their monitor Station. The assistance rendered by LORAN, for distances at sea to 1400 miles, was a far cry from the guiding light of the early LIGHTSHIP NO. 50 whose oil lantern set out a gleam a scant 10 miles. And, in addition, not only the sea but the air became safe as LORAN Helped pilots fix their positions with pin-point accuracy. The Coast Guard had made the air, as well as the Sea, safer for navigation.
In order to keep the navigational aids in proper working condition, a fleet of tenders was necessary to service buoys and lights throughout the waterways of the nation. With the first Congressional appropriation for buoys for the Northwest, a tender, the SHUBRICK, a wooden hulled, side wheeler, was assigned to the Pacific Coast. The SHUBRICK, as well as other early tenders, served double duty, acting as both buoy tender and revenue outter. In her latter capacity, the SHUBRICK carried 12-pound cannons as well as small arms. This single vessel serviced all aids along the coast until February, 1880, when the vessel was transferred to the lower Pacific Coast and relieved in the Seattle area by the first MANZANITA. Of historical interest is the fact that the SHUBRICK was the first vessel of considerable size to navigate the Columbia River beyond the present location of the Bonneville Dam.
As traffic in the Northwest waters increased, so did the need for navigational aids and, consequently, the work of the tenders. The first MANZANITA carried the burden along until the COLUMBINE, a U.S. Army Engineers vessel, was assigned to the same area. This ship was built and maintained by the U.S. Army Engineers and operated by the Lighthouse Service for servicing aids of the Lighthouse Establishment. ( As the Bureau of Lighthouses was previously called.) The MANZANITA was sunk off Warrior Rock in the vicinity of St. Helens, Oregon, in the Columbia River, and the COLUMBINE performed tender duties alone until the second MANZANITA was completed. These two, together with the HEATHER, operated for several years until the COLUMBINE was transferred to the Honolulu District. The ROSE, and soon thereafter, the RHODODENDRON and FIR were commissioned and assigned to duty in the Seattle Area. When the FIR reported, the HEATHER was removed from duty and tied to the sea wall at the Lake Union Locks until the outbreak of the war. At that time, the Army borrowed her and she was never returned. The old MANZANITA lay for a considerable time a derelict, off Warrior Rock, but was raised, refitted and is still operating as a seagoing tug under the name DANIEL KERN. Two fine tenders were commissioned and attached to the 13th Naval District during the war, the BASSWOOD, 1944, and the BLUEBELL, the following year. The BASSWOOD was transferred after a year's general aids to navigation duty which involved servicing isolated units and the LORAN project in Vancouver Island. ( See LORAN). In addition to these large tenders, the CG-65302-D was engaged in buoy work and the maintenance of minor aids on the Upper Columbia River between the Dalles, Oregon and Pasco, Washington.