Just 100 years ago, navigation on our oceans and waterways was uncertain at best. Today we manage and maintain aids-to-navigation, including lighthouses, foghorns, buoys, and daymarks,
to aid mariners in determining their position and warn them of hazards, such as shallows, restricted waters, or wrecks.
At one time there were over 1,400 operational lighthouses in this country; now only 700 remain. Boston Light, being the first built, is the last manned lighthouse with all the others being fully automated now. Some of these lighthouses are leased to non-profit organizations such as museums and hostels. We use many of the keeper's quarters for housing our personnel.
There are about 50,000 short range aids-to-navigation throughout the United States. In keeping up with technology and our mission to preserve the environment, we have turned to the use of radar reflectors, transistorized flashers, photocells and solar power to keep these aids working.
The Coast Guard uses a variety of boats to tend these aids, and often relies on the convenience and accessibility of helicopters to assist in maintenance. We here at Air Station Elizabeth City work with many units, from Maryland to South Carolina, to move equipment and personnel. The H-60 Jayhawk is capable of lifting large buoys, radio towers, and cargo net needed gear quickly and effectively. We ferry personnel to remote sites like Chesapeake Light so they can maintain the lighthouse and platform.