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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.
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Bringing a buoy in for overhaul aboard a tender
Tests of the channel limiting group equipment were observed by the District Engineering and Marine Inspection Officers and it was their recommendation that it was worthwhile to establish and to put into use such an experimental range on the Columbia River. This was done at Arlington, Oregon, with Headquarters' approval, in the Spring of 1945. An investigation of the success of this type of range indicated that the majority of the operators preferred the old type regular center line lighted range of two boards. This preference, in the opinion of the District Coast Guard Office, was made primarily because of the lack of understanding and the use of the limiting channel range and, consequently, detailed printed instructions were issued to all operators in the Celilo-Pasco District where the Arlington range was located. As a result, more favorable comments were received in regard to the use of the limiting channel lights, but, notwithstanding, Headquarters would not authorize their establishment on other ranges where the two-board range was impracticable because of the terrain. This policy, which Headquarters adopted, left areas in the Columbia River unsafe for navigation as the lights and markings which could be established there provided only inadequate coverage.
INCREASE OF AIDS AND CHANNEL IMPROVEMENTS
Recommendations for the increase of aids to insure safety of mariners in the Upper Columbia were presented to the District Coast Guard Officer and Headquarters by the Board of Survey. Headquarters felt that complete justification for the project as a whole, as being vital to the war effort, had not been furnished, and requested that a complete list of all shipping interests concerned, the extent of their operations, and a list of all government agencies involved there in the war interest, be furnished. Letters from navigation companies indicating the large burdens placed on water carriers to transport the required petroleum products to Army and Navy installations on the Columbia were forwarded to Headquarters together with freight tonnages and traffic statistics. The proposed improvements were then approved and an appropriation of $50,000 was granted. (June, 1940). Additional appropriations were granted later.
The Snake River, which enters the Columbia just south of Pasco, Washington, was not navigable except during high water from the middle of March to the middle of July. At the time of the survey, the U. S. Army Engineers were contemplating the improvement of the Snake River by providing a
channel five feet deep from the mouth of the Snake to Lewiston, Idaho, 139 miles upstream. However, this portion of the river presented additional problems in that the rise in elevation to Lewiston from the mouth was 400 feet and the waters swift and shallow. Army Engineers had surveyed this section in 1934 at a cost of $150,000.00 but by 1940 the survey marks were missing and existing maps of the river were unreliable. Althought railway lines paralleled the Snake River on either side to Lewiston, most of the shipping in the area was done by barge as the freight charges for rail transportation was excessive. In anticipation of the Army's proposed dredging, wheat elevators had been constructed along the banks of the Snake, in spite of the fact that river traffic had been discontinued for some time prior to the Army's proposed project. Improvement of the Snake River was calculated to reduce the price of waterborne gasoline about 1 cent at Lewiston and 3/4 cent at Spokane and to insure navigation at least nine months of the year. On the strength of the Army's proposal, Headquarters allotted $33,000.00 for the establishment of aids along the Snake to Lewiston but this was later diverted to other projects as so little progress was made by the Army in the dredging of the proposed channel by 1945.
Ranges were not established even though there was a minimum of river traffic near Lewiston as the Board felt that the establishment of any aids implied responsibility for the safety of the courses over which soundings and chart data were incompleted. By the end of World War II, river traffic on the Columbia had reached a peak. Day and night, winter and summer, through fog or clear weather, tugs and barges, fishing boats and other commercial marine craft plied the river from Astoria, Oregon to Pasco, Washington. The Upper Columbia had been thoroughly marked with additional aids to insure safe navigation; Army Engineers had dredged channels to promote commerce; and inland navigation companies had increased their tonnage so that by 1945 the Columbia River had taken its place amongst the top ranking commercial waterways of the world. But, at Pasco, extensive river traffic ceased for beyond this point the conditions of the river made through traffic impossible. Although the Columbia reached for hundreds of miles beyond Pasco, Washington, all commerce was localized in small areas along its length.
AIDS IN ROOSEVELT LAKE
The building of the Grand Coulee Dam on the far reaches of the Columbia, to provide water for irrigation and water power for this great Northwest section, brought about additional activities for the Aids to Navigation Section. The building of the dam created a lake which extended almost 200
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.