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Coast Guard District narrative histories 1945
When the Lighthouse Service consolidated with the Coast Guard in 1939, there were 1,362 aids to navigation in the district including 31 major light stations, four lightships, 133 fog signals, 12 radio beacons, 672 minor light stations, including lighted buoys, and 676 unlighted buoys and daymarks. The oldest of the major light stations were Cape Disappointment and New Dungeness, which were completed in 1856 as the first activity of the Lighthouse Service in the Pacific Northwest.
Three-hundred and forty-seven Lighthouse personnel were employed in the Seattle District at the time of the consolidation. It was appreciated and understood that there was a natural reluctance on the part of the personnel to transfer from the Bureau to another service. To overcome the hesitation the transfer was effected by avoiding discharges whenever possible and making reductions in personnel by not filling vacancies which were in effect at the time of the transfer.
Superintendents of the former Lighthouse Districts became assistants to the District Commanders of the Coast Guard Districts for the administration and operation of the lighthouse functions. On November 13, 1939, the Superintendent and one clerk transferred from the Portland Lighthouse Service Office, 17th Lighthouse District, to the Seattle District Coast Guard Office (then in the Federal Building at the foot of Marion Street). The remainder of the Portland Office staff reported for duty on the morning of December 18, 1939. On that same day, the former superintendent of the 17th Lighthouse District was commissioned a commander in the United States Coast Guard to serve as Chief of Staff under the District Coast Guard Officer.
Of the personnel transferred, there were 70 keepers in residence on the stations in 1939. During the war, this number increased to 176 on these stations because of the fact that unskilled men inducted into the service had not had the training, background nor interest in the stations which had been common to the men earlier assigned there. Furthermore, the work at the station increased during the war years; Coastal Lookout units with their dogs and horses were generally located on Station grounds. This necessitated turning the dwellings of the Keepers into barracks to quarter the increased personnel and building kennels, stables and shelters for equipment. The end of the war began the gradual reduction of the stations to their normal peactime complements. -22-
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.
A history of Aids to Navigation is, prior to 1939, a history of the Lighthouse Service. Since 1789, the Lighthouse Service had established and maintained navigational aids along all coasts of the United States and all its inland waters. In 1939, the Reorganization Plan II provided for the consolidation of the Bureau of Lighthouses with the Coast Guard. The transfer of the duties from the Bureau to the Coast Guard were made mainly to reduce expenditures to the fullest extent for the efficient operation of the Government. It was appreciated and understood that there was a natural reluctance of personnel to change from the Bureau to another Service. To overcome this hesitation, the transfer was effected by avoiding discharges wherever possible and "cutting" the personnel by not filling vacancies which were in effect at the time of the transfer.
The Secretary of the Treasury authorized the induction of officers and crew of tenders and Lightships, Keepers of Lighthouses and Depots, Light Attendants, Radio Electricians, Examiners and Maintenance Supervisors, as the duties of those positions were comparable with duties performed in the military service of the Coast Guard. In addition to those positions, there was a large group of positions which were analogous to those now held by civilian employees of the Coast Guard, such as draftsmen, mechanics, laborers, watchmen, messengers in the sub-professional and custodial duties and various positions in the clerical, administrative and physical service. This group continued exactly as before and received promotions and increase in
pay in the same manner as other civilian employees of the Coast Guard. Personnel of the former Lighthouse Service were inducted into the grades and ratings of the Coast Guard on the same basis as other men of the Coast Guard in the same grades and ratings with respect to increase in the promotion and increase in pay. Because of the physical defects, some Lighthouse Servicemen were not inducted but were given every consideration when assignments, promotions and increases of pay were made. Some, who did not desire induction, retained their current civil status and were transferred to positions in the civil establishment either within the Coast Guard or some other department of the Government, as rapidly as positions permitted. Some of officers of the Lighthouse Service indicated that because they were classed as officers in their own service, they were not to be placed in an enlisted status. This opinion arose from a misconception of the duties of a Chief Petty Officer. Such an officer averaged about 14 years of Coast Guard or Naval Service, was trained in the military responsibilities of his position and was highly proficient in his specialty. As all Warrant Officers were selected from the grade of Chief Petty Officer, he was in direct line for promotion, and, since the number of Warrant and Chief Warrant Officers was more than half of that of Chief Petty Officers, his opportunities for promotion were excellent.
Thus it was seen that personnel of the Lighthouse Service who accepted appointments were placed in a very favorable position. They not only retained their higher pay status but they became eligible for promotions, increases in pay and other benefits accorded similar Coast Guard personnel.
Superintendent of the former Lighthouse Districts became assistants to the District Commanders of the new Coast Guard Districts for the administration and operation of Lighthouse functions. Since, in many cases the Office of the District Commander and that of the Lighthouse Superintendent were in different localities, problems of both administration and operation resulted. As a result, whenever possible, these administrative offices were combined. It was desired to increase efficiency through coordinated use of personnel, vessels, boats, shops and supplies and economy in operation through a reallocation of facilities to avoid duplication.
327 Lighthouse Service personnel were employed in the Seattle District at the time of the consolidation. This was a far cry from the handful of men who beat their way through the wilderness in 1849 to find a site for a lighthouse on the desolate shores of the Northwest Pacific. At that time, Congress had allotted $15,000 for the establishment of two lighthouses and 12 can buoys at the entrance to the Columbia River. This began the activities of the Lighthouse Service in the 13th Lighthouse District which included Oregon and Washington and later Alaska. The boundaries of the Lighthouse Districts followed closely those of the Coast Guard Districts.
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 construction of roads by the State Highway Departments made the outlying stations more readily accessible.
Seventy keepers were in residence on the Stations when the Lighthouse Service was consolidated with the Coast Guard in 1939. During the war, this number had increased to 176 on these stations. The increase was due, primarily, to the fact that unskilled men inducted into the Service had not the training, background, nor interest in the Station which was common to the men earlier assigned there. Furthermore, the work at the station increased during the war years; Coastal Lookout units with their dogs and horses were generally located on Station grounds. this necessitated turning the dwellings of the Keepers into barracks to quarter the increased personnel and building kennels, stables and shelters for equipment. The end of the war began the gradual reduction of the Stations to their normal peacetime complements.
Early in the war, the Commandant, 13th Naval District, ordered the concealment 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, Astoria, and the work was done in conjunction with assistance from that activity.) Army activities near Coast Guard units furnished the paint for camouflaging the structures. The last of the stations was returned to its normal peace time color by the end of the summer, 1945. (See sixth page for camouflage technique)
A continuous lookout adwatch was maintained by the Keepers of New Dungeness, Ediz Hook, Slip Point and Cape Flattery Lighthouses beginning, strangely enough, 6 December, 1941. All vessels, aircraft, or any suspicious activity (such as attempts at communications between persons on shore (such as attempts at communications between persons on shore and unidentified vessels) were reported to Naval Section Base at Port Angeles and the Harbor Defense, Fort Worden. This order directed that persons engaged in suspicious activity should be apprehended and taken into custody. However, this directive was rescinded and, rather than take such individuals into custody, observers notified the nearest Army or Navy intelligence who took the necessary action.
Drills in the use of the gas mask were held at all Light Stations and a course in Chemical Warfare was complusory
For All Hands. A mobile Chemical Warfare unit was sent out from the District Coast Guard Office to all Coast Guard Stations and actual gas tests were made during the instruction. The District Training program included rifle practice for all personnel assigned to light stations; this was in addition to training received at "boot" camp or specialized schools.
The Light Stations did not all return to their former peacetime status. Many of the innovations of the war were retained at the stations. RADAR beacons had been established at 4 stations; additional Kohler units had been installed; commerical power had been run into many stations. The war had left its mark - to most of the Light Stations' advantage.
An arrangement was made for rating the radiobeacons on a percentage basis for efficiency of operation. For each various type of failure, an established number of points were deducted from a perfect score. These scores were then arranged in chronological order and published each month. However, a discrepancy was evident in that one station operating on the wrong minute for 35 minutes received the same percentage rating as a station being off sequence for only 10 minutes. A new plan for such rating was established and put into operation in the early part of 1945. This new system was so arranged that an offending radiobeacon station was marked down for not only the type of failure, but for the number of minutes of faulty operation. This accounted for the low percentage rating for 1945 of 94% as compared with the percentage rating of 96% for 1943 and 98% for 1944. Actually, the number of failures occurring after the February survey (see survey below) in 1945 became less than those in the months prior to that date.
The Radiobeacon Station guilty of the most failures was on the Columbia River Station. The high percentage of failures in this case was due to a combination of old equipment, fluctuating voltage, disinterested personnel, too small a complement and the motion of the ship, which tended to dislodge the sensitive parts, especially during heavy seas. Little or no interference was found in any of the radiobeacons. One instance of expeditious conduct occurred at Yaquina Head Radiobeacon Station when lightning struck the building in which the beacon was housed and destroyed the equipment and severely injured the operator on watch. Only twelve (12) minutes elapsed between the time the radiobeacon was struck and put out of commission before the standby unit was operating normally.
Peace time operation of the radiobeacon consisted of the distance finding dash being sounded when fog was actually in the area of the radiobeacon and the fog signal was in operation. During the war, the distance finding dash was used continuously as for fog for the purpose of not allowing the enemy to know whether it was foggy or clear weather. Two days after the declaration of war, on 9 December, 1941, the radiobeacon stations were instructed that no radiobeacon signals and no test transmissions in the radiobeacon band were to be permitted during the emergency without specific authorization from the District Coast Guard Officer. This order permitted no variation and forbade all radio frequencies radiation within the band from 285 to 315 kcs. from any radiobeacon stations. Radiobeacon transmitters on any frequency
to vessels which might be in an area of reduced visibility, yet, within reception range of a station enjoying clear weather. It further eliminated the personal equation in determining what might or might not be considered reduced visibility. The recommendation that the three Canadian aids maintain a continuous schedule was intended not only to fill a gap in Pacific Coast Radiobeacon System, in the interest of uniformity, but to provide better aids to navigation in a very dangerous area. Headquarters volunteered to lend the Canadian Government equipment for installation in this section. However, the Canadian aids were installed without Coast Guard assistance.
In order to determine whether of not radiobeacons should return to their pre-war schedule, mariners and pilots were asked by Boarding Officers whether they found the peace time operation of radiobeacons of greater value than the continuous fog schedule. Most mariners were of the opinion that better use could be made of them if they were transmitting each minute of the hour. In connection with the airways, Pan American Airways, the Air Transport Command and the Army Service Forces all indicated that marine radiobeacons were used by the pilots and they, too, felt that even better use could be made of them if they were transmitting each minute of the hour. A flight check made at this time on radio marine beacons in Canada found that these aids assisted greatly in safe navigation of aircraft equipped with radio direction finders. Those radiobeacons were operated on a continuous schedule. As a result of these questions and flight tests, it was decided that war time operation of radiobeacon (continuous as for fog) would continue.
Because of the mounting failures of radiobeacons in the District, a survey of radiobeacons and monitor stations was made in February, 1945. All radiobeacon stations were visited and Commanding Officers of each station presented the problems of his activity. As a result of this survey, the following recommendations were presented to the District Coast Guard Officer and later were accepted as District Policy:
(a) A twenty-four hour watch maintained at all radiobeacon and monitor station.
(b) The standby unit swtiched on immediately in case of failure.
(c) The method of timing radiobeacons standardized.
(d) Personnel at all monitor stations thoroughly tested and instructed.
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
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:
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
space for and accept responsibility of the security, monitoring and maintenance of these installations. The local maintenance crew had no responsibility for repairing the equipment; this was the charge of the Radio Material Office.
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 Tatoosh Island, Washington. The Army Signal Corps had installed a RACON at the Grays Harbor Fog Signal Station, Westport, Washington, which was operated and maintained entirely by Army personnel. The Coast Guard had no cognizance of this Army RACON other than its existence for the equipment and its operation was classified as "Secret" and carefully guarded. This RACON was discontinued and the maintenance crew was withdrawn about a year after its installation when a new RACON was established at Hoquiam, Washington, also under Army supervision.
The YH RACON installations were in operation only a few months when the Navy advised that all activities were to be equipped with the newer, improved model of RACON, the YJ.³ Two YJ RACONS were installed in the former locations of the YH and the latter models, together with their antennae, spares and instruction books were placed in storage. The installation of the new equipment was again done under the supervision of the Radio Material Officer, 13th Naval District. At the same time, the Chief Of Naval Operations directed that a site be selected, plans drawn and estimates made for a complete RACON Lighthouse (YJ, AN/CPN-3, and AN/CPN-6, in duplicate). Surveys for this site were made by Radio Material Officer's representative and a representative of the District Coast Guard Officer.
RACONS had not proved themselves "aids" to navigation by the beginning of 1944. Improper performance was prevalent and was due, in the main, to inefficient maintenance and to lack of appreciation of the importance such equipment bore to the safe passage of aircraft. At this time, a Chief of Naval Operations directive^4 transferred all Navy pulse equipment to the Coast Guard for operation and maintenance; the equipment was turned over to the custody of the Coast Guard, thus eliminating any financial transaction. 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. An inventory of all equipment (together with condition in which it was received) was signed by the Commanding Officer of the Group, Hammond. Inventories were kept on file at the RACON Station, Group, District Coast Guard Office and Headquarters. Equipment was later signed for by the District Property Officer which left only the operational end of transfer to the Aids to Navigation Section.
The directive from the Chief of Naval Operations, in addition to authorizing the transfer of equipment, also urged the establishment of new RACONS wherever the need for them was apparent. Headquarters was also directed to transfer RACONS to Coast Guard property wherever feasible. At Tillamook, Oregon, Shelton, Washington, Coast Guard personnel were messed and quartered with the Navy as the RACON Stations were facilities of those activities. However, at Astoria Naval Air Station, the RACON Station was a facility of the Astoria Operating Base and the men were billeted there. Seattle RACON Station, although a facility of the Naval Air Station, could not provide accommodations for the Coast Guard personnel; the men were placed on subsistence and quarters and lived in the nearby town of Kirkland. All other RACON Stations were established near a Coast Guard unit where the men could be billeted. (Exception was RACON at Oceanside where personnel were quartered with Army. See paragraph concerning Army RACONS.)
Prior to the Navy's transfer of all pulse equipment to the Coast Guard, all matters dealing with electronic aids had been handled by the District Communications or Communications Engineer Officer. However, in compliance with Headquarters' new policy regarding the electronic aids, the operational activities of the RACONS became the responsibility of the Aids to Navigation Section (under Operations). The following specific duties of the Aids to Navigation Officer were listed as follows:
(b) Obtain approval form the Chief of Naval Operations for the establishment of new units and decommissioning of old ones.
(c) Conduct a study to determine the operational requirements for the RACON system.
(d) Determine the operational requirements for various areas and furnish this data to the Office of Engineering for procurement of the equipment and the preparation of budget estimates.
signals beyond a close range of 20 to 30 miles. Mountains again restricted the beacon range to the north and east but the valley toward the northwest and out to sea provided maximum coverage. Much interference was received from the Cape Meares signal blending with the Tillamook indication on the scope at ranges of 45 miles and greater. The results of this Tillamook check seemed to indicate that the RACON there had little navigational value, whereas the Cape Meares beacon was used almost exclusively for navigation by the Blimp Squadron at Tillamook, Oregon, although the Tillamook RACON was good for homing to the air station when a landfall had been made with the Cape Meares RACON. The pilot suggested that one RACON, situated on the peak of the hill above Oceanside, Oregon, would serve the purpose of the two beacons then operating.
At the Naval Air Base, Seattle, the RACON Station was located in a rectangular clearing surrounded by trees on a hill. The trees encircled the beacon in all directions except west, being about 350 feet from it to the north and 125 feet distant to the east. On the west south-west, they were approximately 50 feet from the beacon. Although the grove only averaged 30 to 50 feet in height, they reduced the line of sight coverage of the beacon, and subsequently results of the test showed the contour curves to be determined largely by these trees and not by the hilly and mountainous terrain. It was the opinion of the pilot that increased coverage of the beacon could be obtained by cutting down or topping the trees within 150 yards radius of the antennae and/or elevating the antennae.
An Army YH RACON was established at Point Chehalis, Washington, on Coast Guard Property with the understanding that the installation was only temporary due to the fact that a completed RADAR beacon and Lighthouse with YJ, YK and YM equipment was under consideration by the Coast Guard for that vicinity. In September, 1944, the District Coast Guard Officer had requested the Chief of Naval Operation's approval to install this Point Chehalis RACON as the equipment and personnel for such a project were all available in the 13th Naval District. This approval was granted and the Bureau of Ships was directed to furnish technical assistance in connection with the Point Chehalis site survey.
The first site ("A") considered consisted of a flat portion elevated about 15 or 20 feet backed on the south by a wooded area on high ground. A number of dwellings ( the
hut situated on a hill at an elevation of approximately 335 ft. The only access to the station was by a foot path up a steep hill through a wooded area. All supplies and equipment were packed up and down this path. There was no emergency power line and no sanitary facilities or drinking water at the hut. It was definitely determined that that location was unsatisfactory from the standpoint of adequacy of equipment, lack of space for additional equipment or spares, lack of space for enlarging the present building and lack of accessibility. With this in mind, a survey was made of the Cape Meares Light Station, Tillamook, Oregon, with the idea of relocating the RACON equipment on Coast Guard property where adequate space was available at an elevation at approximately 325 ft. However, coverage to the eastward was restricted to high altitudes by a ridge, 150 ft. higher than the station. The coverage was comparable with that obtained at the present location. The Army had located in this particular site for security reasons and, as the war ended the necessity for such security, the more accessible position gained favor. In addition to other difficulties, when the Army RACON personnel were withdrawn, there were no facilities for messing, other than in the town of Oceanside, Oregon, (one mile distant) which Army Medical authorities had condemned as unsatisfactory from the standpoint of cleanliness. All things indicated that Cape Meares Light Station was the ideal place to move the equipment.
A similar inspection was made at the Neah Bay Army RACON Station which consisted of two YJ units and two CPN-3 Units located on top of a 1430 feet hill in a square wooden building. The station was accessible by a road constructed by the Army. The grade was steep, the road rough, but it was normally open the year around except for occasional falling of trees across the road. An attempt had at one time been made to top the nearby trees, but the Indians in the area objected. It was thought that satisfactory coverage could be given aircraft and perhaps surface craft without topping the trees, but as a flight had never been made it was not possible to make an accurate deduction. At that time, Army personnel were subsisted and quartered at a camp near the village of Neah Bay, Washington. It was necessary for personnel to be housed in the Neah Bay Indian Village, 6 miles from the RACON Station.
For reasons of inaccessibility and because good coverage was not provided for surface craft, a survey was conducted to determine whether or not adequate coverage for both air and surface craft could be given from a location on Tatoosh Island, Washington, in the vicinity of the former Navy RACON which had earlier been discontinued there. On 1 September, however, the station at Neah Bay, Washington, and at Cape Meares (Oceanside, Oregon) were transferred from
The end of the war brought about the discontinuance of many Auxiliary Naval Air Stations. Those in the 13th Naval District with which the Aids to Navigation Section was particularly concerned were the Auxiliary Air Stations at Quillayute, Washington, Tillamook, Oregon and Shelton, Washington. Information received from the commander, Naval Air Bases, indicated that these three stations would be placed on a caretaker's status, meaning that 15 or 20 men would be assigned to the Air station at Quillayute, Washington, affected the RACON Station only in that the personnel assigned there were placed on subsistence and quarters and the RACON continued to give service to aircraft flying in that vicinity. However, as the beacon was located approximately three miles from the nearest water, it was doubtful that the station would be of any benefit to surface navigation. The Aids to Navigation Officer recommended that, in order to maintain the RACON for general air navigation, the beacon be moved to Destruction Island Light Station and there afford service for both air and sea navigation. Such a move would give added navigational RACON coverage and add a chain of RACON Stations for electronic navigation along the Coast.
The Tillamook RACON, as was seen earlier, provided limited coverage and was of little value except to the aircraft at the Air Station. The Aids to Navigation Officer recommended that the Tillamook RACON be decommissioned when RACON also provided limited service in much the same manner as the Quillayute beacon to cross-country flights. Whether or not it was to be continued, depended upon the investigation made by the Army and Navy authorities to determine their needs. There was little doubt that the Air Stations at Tillamook, Oregon, Quillayute, Washington and Shelton, Washington, would be discontinued.
Headquarters conducted a survey to determine what applications could be made of shore based RADAR to the performance of Coast Guard peace time functions. All types of applications were investigated in order that the fullest advantage might be taken of the latest electronics developments. The part RADAR had played to win the war was common knowledge. The part it would play during the postwar period was somewhat problematical and the subject of much speculation.
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 organizational 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, 3 enlisted Coast Guardsmen and 6 enlisted SPARS. in 1945, An Assistant Aids to Navigation Officer, trained especially in electronic Aids, was assigned to the Section.
Although particular duties were delegated to certain desks, an attempt was made to instruct all personnel in the overall working of the department so that in the event of transfer, leave, discharge, or illness, there was no obvious vacancy that required complete training to handle. Supervision of filing, typists, records and all clerical work was done by a SPAR Yeoman, 1st class. Field trips were made by the Associate Mechanical Engineer and the male officers to inspect aids, prepare forms 2609, for proposed projects, investigate new sites, confer with Pilots' Associations and, in conjunction with the Engineering Section, to determine the requirements of new aids. All tender orders were issued from this Section and the reports of tenders' activities were kept on file. The SPAR Officer was instructed in non-technical operation of RADAR Beacons and Radiobeacons and was, in addition to her duties in the Section, also a Hydrographic Officer for the compilation of the Arctic Ocean, Bering Sea and Aleutian Coast Pilot for the District Coast Guard Officer.
The filing system, as developed in the department, consisted of a rough running log kept weekly and transferred to a smooth log under another cover at the end of each week. All correspondence was logged under its correspondent (to or from) and also its subject. File numbers were assigned and folder designations were made from an Office Index. Pieces of correspondence, filed since the origin of the system in 1943, had passed the 15,000 mark by the end of September, 1945. Folders numbered to 730 with a transfer file of several -83
Chapter Notes Foreward (Page 2) - Letter from the Commandant to members of the former Lighthouse Service eligible for appointment or enlistment in the Coast Guard, dated 25 November, 1939.
Light Stations (page 1) - Coquille River and Warrior Rock Lighthouses were originally "keeper stations" but were changed to unwatched lights in 1940.
Lightships (Page 15) - Because of the confined conditions aboard Lightships, men were granted 180 days personnel liberties as per anuum. It was found that the men became weary after spending some time aboard Lightships on exposed stations, and it was necessary to bring them ashore at frequent periods. It was the practice of the Lighthouse Service to make a trip into the Lightship every four weeks, using one of the buoy tenders for this purpose and, at the same time delivering provisions and water. After spending 8 weeks aboard, the members of the crew and officers were given four weeks liberty ashore. This arrangement proved very satisfactory for a period of years. Under the Coast Guard, however, it was felt that the 8 week period of duty was too long. The 4-week period of duty was not provided for under Coast Guard Regulation and was unsatisfactory as enlisted men were entitled to quarters and rations. The question was raised as to whether the enlisted men in the lower grades would have sufficient funds to finance themselves on these long periods of liberty. It was standard Coast Guard practice to provide 10 days shore duty to keep the crews contented.
Radiobeacons (Page 21) - Radiobeacon peace time operation (continuous - clear weather) was resumed at the end of the war.