Coast Guard asks for help as aids to navigation are vandalized in Alaska

JUNEAU, Alaska – The Coast Guard has set numerous seasonal aids to navigation, including the Mendenhall Bar and Holkahm Bay buoys, to aid mariners in safely navigating the waterways.

Since the buoys have been placed, Coast Guard technicians conduct regular servicing and discover aids off their mooring, with batteries stolen or riddled with bullet holes. These and other acts of vandalism waste valuable time and taxpayer funds with repairs and replacement, as well as limiting or negating visibility of the aids from their intended purpose, to provide safe passage to mariners.

There are over 800 aids facilitating the flow of commerce throughout Southeast Alaska year-round. The Coast Guard aims to ensure that all aids to navigation are on station, displaying proper characteristics.

Persons who vandalize, obstruct, or impair the usefulness of aids to navigation in any way are subject to a fine of $2500 and up to one year in prison.

Vandalism or theft are most often reported in Gastineau Channel, lower Stephens Passage, and Olga and Neva Straits near Sitka. In 2007, McDonald Rock Lighted Buoy in Stephens Passage was shot by a large caliber rifle and sunk. The cost of a replacement buoy was over $28,000.

Boaters who notice discrepant, missing or damaged aids, or witness anyone vandalizing or stealing aids, are requested to contact the nearest Coast Guard unit or the District Seventeen Command Center at 907-463-2001.

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