Aid to Navigation above Arctic Circle

Thursday, August 05, 2010
Photo courtesy USCG

Four Coast Guard Aids to Navigation Team Kodiak personnel completed a build of the 15-ft Coast Guard aid to navigation tower four miles south of Point Hope August 2, which is the only permanent Coast Guard aid to navigation tower north of the Arctic Circle.

In January 2009, a waterways analysis and management review was conducted on the North Slope.  The WAMS identified local interest to enhance safety for the subsistence users and value to maritime traffic in the area.  The proposal to re-establish ATON in Point Hope was approved.

While the Coast Guard regulates private aids to navigation on the North Slope, the Point Hope Light will establish a permanent federally maintained aid to navigation above the Arctic Circle.  The Point Hope Light will enhance the Coast Guard’s presence in the arctic region and our commitment to safe navigation throughout Alaska.

A proposal to establish a seasonal aid to navigation was submitted and approved by the Department of Commerce, Bureau of Lighthouses in December 1923.  The following summer the aid was mounted on a small white oil house four feet square by six feet high.  The light was maintained from August 1st to May 1st.  It was not needed in the summer due to continuous daylight.  The light was to assist coastal navigation in late summer and early fall and to assist sled travelers in the winter.

However, in June 1985 the Coast Guard decommissioned Point Hope Light, which had been rebuilt as a 40-foot wooden pole in August 1962.  A review of the aid's history indicated the aid was primarily used by local hunting parties returning to the village from hunting trips. The proposal to decommission the aid was advertised in the local notice to mariners with no adverse comments received.

Point Hope is located at the northwest end of the Lisburne Peninsula on the Chukchi Sea coast 40 miles southwest of Cape Lisburne, Arctic Slope and about 600 miles northwest of Anchorage.

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