Coast Guard begins 2010 Operation Spring Restore

CLEVELAND – The Ninth Coast Guard District began the restoration of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway aids to navigation system, March 17, 2010, following the re-opening of the Soo Locks and the resumption of the shipping season.

Operation Spring Restore, which is the largest domestic buoy operation, involves the re-installment of approximately 1, 284 navigational aids, including lighted, unlighted buoys and beacons, to be completed by approximately May 28, 2010. The aids, which are 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 District’s aids to navigation system facilitates safe and efficient maritime activity on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway region by marking safe passage for domestic, international, commercial and recreational vessel traffic.

On the Great Lakes, the Coast Guard manages 2,628 federal aids in the region.

To date, Ninth District cutters and units have commissioned 158 of the 1,295 aids to navigation scheduled to be replaced this season.

To accomplish the mission, the Ninth District employs six U.S. Coast Guard cutters, five Aids to Navigation Teams and five small boat stations with aids to navigation duties. In addition, the Lamplighters (civilian employees who manage the inland waters of northern Minnesota) , the Canadian Coast Guard and the St. Lawrence Seaway Corporation assist the mission.

The Coast Guard Auxiliary also assists the district with verification of approximately 1,700 privately-owned aids to navigation in the region.

The waters of the Great Lakes 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 them.

The aids restored during Operation Spring Restore include but are not limited to:

* lighted structures
* beacons
* day markers
* range lights
* fog signals
* landmarks
* buoys (lighted and unlighted)

All have a purpose and help in determining location, as well as facilitating the safe transit from one place to another, or staying out of danger.

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