ANT Moriches, Air Station Cape Cod keep New York mariners on course

Petty Officer 2nd Class Thebeze Gonsalves and Petty Officer 3rd Class Howard North connect a sling to an Air Station Cape Cod MH60T Jayhawk helicopter that carries the downed light structure away Jan. 16.  U.S. Coast Guard photo by Seaman Charles Motherway.

EAST HAMPTON, New York — Coast Guard Aids to Navigation Team  Moriches, New York, and Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod, Massachusetts, teamed up to remove a light that collapsed during a winter squall.

Cedar Island Light 3CI, a 45-foot lighted tower, guided mariners into Sag Harbor, New York, since it was established to replace the Cedar Island Lighthouse in the 1970s. The downed light was replaced with a new, more durable 20-foot spindle structure on Jan. 23.

Like the old light, the new Cedar Island Light is a lateral channel marker that can be seen for five miles.

Due to the remote location of the light, ANT Moriches crewmembers cut the previously broken structure in half and coordinated with the Air Station Cape Cod aircrew to fly it to two flatbed trailers in a parking lot a mile away.

According to Chief Petty Officer Derek G. Paulsen, the officer-in-charge of ANT Moriches, the light can only be reached by beachable vessels or off-road vehicles.

“This was a unique situation because of how much time and labor it would have taken to take apart this structure piece by piece and get it to the parking lot (a mile away),” said Paulsen. “What only took two hours with a helicopter would have taken us one if not two whole days to get the structure out of there.”

An 18-year veteran from Hicksville, New York, Paulsen said the light structure ended up weighing in at 3,240 pounds.

“We used 10-foot endless round slings, which connected to the helicopter’s picking pendant,” said Paulsen.

Lt. Cmdr. Robert E. McCabe, the Air Station Cape Cod standardization officer, flew the MH60T Jayhawk helicopter during the mission.

“The ANT did a lot of really outstanding prep work, setting up the sling, tag line and flatbed trucks,” said McCabe, a 2007 Coast Guard Academy graduate from Astoria, Oregon. “We just had to come in, hook up to the tower and move it about a mile away.”

Air Station Cape Cod is the only U.S. Coast Guard aviation facility in the northeast United States and covers a wide variety of missions from New Jersey to the Canadian border.

In addition to maintaining a 24-hour watch for search and rescue missions, McCabe said Air Station Cape Cod supports in nearly every Coast Guard mission.

“We regularly get launched to rescue mariners in distress or medevac patients who are in need of urgent medical attention from boats,” said McCabe. “We also frequently conduct Living Marine Resource patrols in support of fisheries enforcement. Aids to Navigation (ATON) and other support missions to help other Coast Guard communities are also common.”

“We support various ATON missions year-round throughout (U.S. Coast Guard) District One for routine inspections and maintenance and bigger repairs when things break, as was the case with the tower at Cedar Island,” said McCabe. “Lighthouses and various other fixed markers and lights require periodic maintenance and many can only be safely accessed by helicopter.”

In some of the more remote areas, ANT crewmembers are often hoisted down to the aid in the same basket rescue swimmers use.

“We sometime take ANT personnel for inspections from the air and often either land or hoist ANT personnel down to the aid using the basket if there is not sufficient room to safely land,” said McCabe, who has 2400 flight hours.

ANT Moriches is one of the team’s that Air Station Cape Cod supports.

Based in Hampton Bay, New York, ANT Moriches maintains 341 federal aids and 1,200 private aids along the south shore of Long Island from East Rockaway Inlet and east to Montauk Point.

Paulsen, the ANT Moriches OIC, said he knows the importance of the Cedar Island Light firsthand from a previous assignment at Coast Guard Station Montauk, New York.

“Commercial and recreational boaters rely on this fixed lighted structure to safely get in and out of Sag Harbor, both day and night, during the summer boating season,” said Paulsen. “When I was stationed at Station Montauk, we relied on the light when going in and out of there at night because it was a great visual reference to use.”

ANT Moriches crewmembers Petty Officer 3rd Class Howard Z. North, Chief Petty Officer Derek G. Paulsen, Fireman Alexandra Wright, Petty Officer 1st Class Jason R. Gwiazdzinski, Fireman Zachary R. Hecke and Petty Officer 2nd Class Thebeze A. Gonsalves pose in front of the old Cedar Island Light that was replaced by the Cedar Island Light 3CI in the 1970s.  U.S. Coast Guard photo by Seaman Charles Motherway.

ANT Moriches crewmembers Petty Officer 3rd Class Howard Z. North, Chief Petty Officer Derek G. Paulsen, Fireman Alexandra Wright, Petty Officer 1st Class Jason R. Gwiazdzinski, Fireman Zachary R. Hecke and Petty Officer 2nd Class Thebeze A. Gonsalves pose in front of the old Cedar Island Light that was replaced by the Cedar Island Light 3CI in the 1970s. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Seaman Charles Motherway.


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