December 16, 2005
The crew received a report from a boater who stated he almost hit one of the navigational aids due its extinguished light. The ANT crew located the buoy, damaged with bullet holes. After surveying the surrounding area, the crew found two additional buoys and six shore aids with bullet holes.
The ANT crew worked from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday repairing and replacing solar panels, batteries, lanterns and radar reflectors on a number of the vandalized aids. Also, a crew from the Coast Guard cutter Maple, home ported in Sitka, placed a temporary patch over a bullet hole in the hull of one buoy. The buoy will be replaced by the crew of the Coast Guard cutter Anthony Petit, home ported in Ketchikan.
The Coast Guard takes the responsibility of preventing maritime accidents very seriously. The aids to navigation in the area where the vandalism occurred are of critical navigational importance. The waterway is used by recreational boaters, fishing vessels and commercial traffic, such as the Alaska Marine Highway System ferries.
Mariners use shore aids and buoys as guides to help them navigate their vessels while underway. When lights on fixed aids are extinguished the structure itself can become a hazard to navigation. On Feb. 14, 1998, a teenager was killed when the vessel he was in struck an unlighted aid to navigation in Olga Strait. The aid involved in the fatal accident was one of the aids vandalized.
Any person found responsible for stealing, damaging, defacing or destroying aids to navigation could be charged with a misdemeanor offense and face up to a $2,500 fine and a year in jail.
Coast Guard personnel determined the vandalism occurred some time between last Friday and Monday morning. If anyone has any information regarding who might be responsible for the vandalism contact the Coast Guard at 907-463-2001.
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