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Coast Guard District narrative histories 1945
A monitor station was established at North Head Radio Station which checked the performance of all District Radio Beacons, and outlying stations were notified daily of all failures or defects in the radio beacons' 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. In March, 1944, Radio Station Meadowdale was ??? as a Monitoring Station for radio beacons, as the activities at that station had been considerably reduced. Although Headquarters' instructions ordered that each radio beacon in the United States be monitored at least once every four hours, it became possible in the 13th Naval District, to monitor each radio beacon every hour after the new monitor station had been added.
In 1932 navigation in the Upper Columbia was revived for the transportation of wheat, but the servies between the Upper and Lower Ports was intermittent. This renewal of navigation was more or less on a trial basis to determine if sufficient commerce could be developed to support water carrier operation. Sufficient traffic was realized and, after the construction of the Bonneville Dam which was completed in 1938, river traffic expanded into the movement of great steel barges designed to carry liquid petroleum in the hull and package or bulk cargo on deck. With this increased traffic from Astoria, Oregon, beyond The Dalles, Oregon, the necessity of navigational aids to insure the mariner's safety became most apparent. As a result, the Aids to Navigation Section centered the majority of its activities in the promotion of safe navigation along the river. Here was the proving grounds for experimental light structures and buoys to determine those most suitable for the area. Due to the rapid current, range marking channels had to be so perfected as to enable the mariners to ascertain their course in a matter of seconds.
It was also necessary to experiment with range markings, and in this connection the Nautical Scientist in the Aide to Navigation Section, 13th Naval District, invented and constructed a system of laterally restricted range markings. This newly devised "Channel Limiting Group" was necessary because of the impossible terrain which made the establishment of the conventional markings impracticable if not impossible. With Headquarters' approval an experimental range was established on the Columbia River near Arlington, Oregon, which proved to be successful. Other experiments were concerned principally with surface riding buoys and fast water buoys.
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
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.
on land stations were not permitted to be used. During the period of radiobeacon silence, radiobeacon clocks were maintained in normal condition but no other equipment was operated although it was kept in in full repair in the event it should become necessary to go into operation. Rooms were kept heated so that equipment would not be damaged and a continuous watch was maintained in anticipation of the time the radiobeacon was ordered into operation. Six months later, the radiobeacons were restored to operation on low power and maintained a schedule as for fog. In October, 1942, the Commander, Northwest Sea Frontier ordered the resumption of all radiobeacons in the coastal waters of Oregon and Washington. (Some radiobeacons were authorized on specific dates to be silent for the purpose of cleaning insulators, only after the District Coast Guard Officer had approved the period.)
In March, 1944, Radio Station Meadowdale was selected as a Monitoring Station for radiobeacons, as the activities at that station had been considerably reduced. The North Head Monitor Station's use had been increased extensively as radiobeacons had not been returned to peace time schedule (operating three minutes out of the usual two ten minute periods each hour) but were operating on a continuous program of one minute out of every three. Although Headquarters' instructions ordered that each radiobeacon in the United States be monitored at least once every four hours, it became possible, in the 13th Navel District, to monitor each radiobeacon every hour after the new monitor station had been added. Monitoring receivers were calibrated with a frequency meter and were checked periodically to insure accurate observation. Each monitoring station kept a record of its observations on a Headquarters' form which was submitted to the District Office and reviewed by the Aids to Navigation Officer who summarized the data before submitting it to Headquarters. Any unusual situations were reproted with detailed information to Headquarters at once.
Although three Canadian radiobeacons were operating on a continuous schedule as for fog, which conformed with the United States program, three other Canadian radiobeacons were still operating on a peace time basis. Headquarters suggested to the Controller of Radio in Ottawa that the radiobeacons at Quatsino, Race Rocks and Point Atkinson be placed on a twenty-four hour fog schedule. the purpose of this continuous operation was to prevent the possibility of the enemy receiving information as to visibility at radiobeacon stations, formerly disclosed by change of operation from normal operation to fog schedule. Continuous operation had an equally important factor in making beacons available
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.
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.