Coast Guard Begins Operation Fall Retrieve

CLEVELAND – The Ninth Coast Guard District has begun its annual retrieval of The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway System seasonal aids to navigation, which includes lighted and unlighted buoys and beacons.

Operation Fall Retrieve, the largest domestic buoy recovery operation in the U.S. Coast Guard, commenced Oct. 14, 2007, with a goal of retrieving 1,289 navigational aids, and should be completed by Dec. 21, 2007. The aids, approximately half in the region, are taken out of service during the winter months due to decreased vessel traffic and to minimize damage from ice and inclement weather.

The Ninth Coast Guard District’s aids to navigation system facilities safe and efficient maritime activity in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway region by marking safe passage for domestic, international, commercial and recreational vessel traffic. The Coast Guard manages 2,628 federal aids in the region.

The waters of the United States and its territories are marked to assist navigation by the U.S. Aids to Navigation System. This system employs a simple arrangement of colors, shapes, numbers and light characteristics to mark navigable channels, waterways and obstructions adjacent to these.

Aids to Navigation can provide a boater with the same type of information drivers get from street signs, stop signals, road barriers, detours and traffic lights. These aids may be anything from lighted structures, beacons, day markers, range lights, fog signals and landmarks to floating buoys. Each has a purpose and helps in determining location, getting from one place to another or staying out of danger.

To accomplish the aids to navigation mission, the Ninth Coast Guard District employs six Coast Guard cutters, five Aids to Navigations teams; five small boat stations with aids to navigation duties; the Lamplighters, civilian employees who manage the inland waters of Northern Minnesota, and partner with the Canadian Coast Guard and the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation.

In addition, the Ninth District Coast Guard Auxiliary helps inspect approximately 1,700 privately-owned aids to navigation in the region.

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