Coast Guard divers locate, mark downed Long Island Sound light structures

1st Coast Guard District News
NEW YORK – At nearly the eight month anniversary of the landfall of Hurricane Sandy, the recovery process has been long for military members and civilians alike, but the U.S. Coast Guard continues to make profound progress in and around the East Coast waterways.

Through significant team efforts, important landmarks are being recovered and waterways are being cleared of debris that remain from the storm.

During an intense two-day period June 18-19, Regional Dive Locker East (RDLE) teamed up with Aids to Navigation Team (ANT) Moriches and Coast Guard Station Jones Beach to recover downed light towers from East Rockaway Inlet and Jones Beach Inlet. Both lights were destroyed during Hurricane Sandy.

Coast Guard RDLE divers are expertly-trained, highly-motivated professionals supporting operations from the Arctic to surveys of coral reefs off of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“Before ANT Moriches can begin to rebuild these light towers, the remnants of the previous lights had to be located, assessed and marked with buoys in order to notify mariners of underwater hazards,” said Chief Petty Officer Steve Doty, RDLE Team leader. “The mission is beneficial to the mariners who use these harbors for navigation and for the local residents who also transit in and out of the harbors. We verify that the channel is clear and safe for them to transit. Most importantly, we can recover whatever damaged item that belongs to the Coast Guard and replace it quickly.”

The divers used the Dual-Frequency Identification Sonar Diver Held unit, a handheld sonar device connected to a pair of goggles that attach to the diver’s face mask.

Coast Guard divers locate, mark downed Long Island Sound light structures

Divers with Coast Guard Regional Dive Locker East scan the waters at East Rockaway Inlet, Long Island, N.Y., June 18, 2013, in an effort to recover and mark a downed light that was destroyed during Hurricane Sandy. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ali Flockerzi)

The unit produces a 3D image with a range of up to 100 feet underwater in zero visibility conditions. This unit increased efficiency and productivity by using less time and manpower while performing this search and recovery mission.

After two days of diving and carefully searching the inlets, the team was able to identify and mark the downed lights, successfully completing their mission. In 2014, the Army Corps of Engineers plans to rebuild the walls and light bases on the jetties and the Coast Guard will rebuild the lights maintained by ANT Moriches.

The light at East Rockaway Inlet is the dividing line between Station Jones Beach and Station New York. Without the light, mariners rely on the two lighted buoys located at the inlet entrance. Rebuilding a fixed light to attach to the inlet helps out a lot with navigation, said Smith.

“Without the hard work between the RDLE, ANT Moriches and Station Jones Beach, this mission never could have been completed,” said Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Jeffrey Smith, the officer in charge at ANT Moriches. “As proud stewards of the environment, the Coast Guard remains always ready, keeping the waterways clear and providing marine safety.”

Photos of the operation can be viewed at the Coast Guard News Flickr page.

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