Coast Guard Completes Fall Buoy Project

CLEVELAND – U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Hollyhock will retrieve the last two buoys in the U.S. Great Lakes’ list of more than a thousand pulled buoys on Saturday. These buoys mark the completion of Operation Autumn Retrieve.

These two buoys are part of the Great Lakes Aids to Navigation system that is rotated twice a year as a measure to prevent damage from ice during the winter season.

Operation Autumn 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 is scheduled to be completed Saturday. The aids, approximately half in the region, are taken out of service during the winter months due to decreased vessel traffic to minimize damage from ice and inclement weather.

To accomplish the aids to navigation mission, the Ninth Coast Guard District employed 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; partners with the Canadian Coast Guard and the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation.

The last two buoys are Buoy 1 and Buoy 11, located in the channel in Lake Huron Cut. They are lighted buoys that would be damaged by encroaching ice if they weren’t rotated by a more durable buoy. Their replacements are the new Sabik buoys. Sabiks are designed to be durable enough to withstand ice yet stand out of the water just as high as the seasonal buoys.

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