Coast Guard to implement radio-activated foghorn switches

By Bill Trotter | Bangor (Maine) Daily News | Published: January 9, 2016

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine (Tribune News Service) — The Coast Guard is moving ahead with plans to change the way foghorns are triggered along the Maine coast.

The federal agency, which maintains light beacons and fog horns that mariners rely upon to navigate in poor visibility, is doing away with activation switches that are triggered by fog sensors. Instead, the horns will be activated on demand by passing mariners using marine radios. The radio activation switches, according to the Coast Guard, are more reliable and efficient than the antiquated VM-100 fog detectors, replacement parts for which are no longer being manufactured and are extremely limited in availability.

New switches for the Mariner Radio Activated Sound Signal system, or MRASS, are expected to be installed on foghorns at by mid-February, provided the weather does not cause any significant delays in completing the work. The lighthouses are dotted along the entire Maine coast, from Dog Island in Eastport to Goat Island off Cape Porpoise.

Some fishermen and other about how well boaters will make the adjustment to having to activate the signals themselves, rather than having the horns come on automatically when fog is detected. Some boaters may not be aware of the change, while others might not carry the VHF-FM radios needed to activate the horns.

Coast Guard officials said they are aware of the concerns and will make sure they will address them as best they can.

“Based on the important feedback we received from the maritime community, we will continue with our best efforts to educate mariners, especially recreation and seasonal boaters, on the new way to activate these sound signals,” Capt. Michael Baroody, commander of Coast Guard Sector Northern New England, said Wednesday in a prepared statement. “We will continue our outreach leading up to and throughout the upcoming boating season to make sure we reach as many boaters as possible.”

that, to activate the foghorns, mariners will have to key a standard VHF-FM radio five times consecutively on VHF channel 83A. The signal then will sound for up to 60 minutes following each activation. To activate the horns properly, mariners will have to be on the water and within the usual sight line of the lighthouse, visibility notwithstanding.

Coast Guard officials say they plan to meet with mariners and others after the new equipment is in place to make sure that the system is operating the way it should be. They also have strongly urged all recreational boaters to have working hand-held marine radios with them when they are out on the water, both so they can communicate with the Coast Guard in the event of an emergency and so they will be able to activate the radio switches on foghorns.

Questions, comments or concerns about the new system should be directed to Lt. David Bourbeau, the agency’s waterways management division chief in northern New England, by emailing or by calling 207-347-5015.

Maine lighthouses where the new radio-activated switches will be installed include (from east to west):

— Goat Island Light, Cape Porpoise.

— Cape Elizabeth Light, Cape Elizabeth.

— Portland Head Light, Cape Elizabeth.

— Spring Point Ledge Light, South Portland.

— Seguin Island Light, near Georgetown.

— Burnt Island Light, Boothbay Harbor.

— Marshall Point Light, St. George.

— Whitehead Island Light, near St. George.

— Two Bush Island Light, near St. George.

— Owls Head Light, Owls Head.

— Heron Neck Light, Vinalhaven.

— Browns Head Light, Vinalhaven.

— Goose Rocks Light, North Haven.

— Fort Point Light, Stockton Springs.

— Egg Rock Light, Frenchman Bay.

— West Quoddy Head Light, Lubec.

— Dog Island Light, near Eastport.


©2016 the Bangor Daily News (Bangor, Maine)

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