Status: Indexed


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.


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