Radio-activated fog signals advancing



SOUTH PORTLAND — The Coast Guard is moving forward with a plan to install Mariner Radio Activated Sound Signals (MRASS) at 17 lighthouses across Maine.

The change is part of a larger Coast Guard initiative involving fog signals at lighthouses across northern New England and the rest of the United States. The purpose of this modernization initiative is to replace the less reliable and less efficient VM-100 fog detectors with a Coast Guard-designed, radio-controlled system. No changes are planned to the light characteristics of the lighthouses.

The Coast Guard will announce the changes as they occur with a Broadcast Notice to Mariners as well as in the weekly 1st District Local Notice to Mariners. The changes eventually will be made on nautical charts.

In November, the Coast Guard released its plans to convert the aging automatically-activated sound signals with MRASS devices that can be activated on demand by waterway users with a marine radio.

Following the announcement, some stakeholders raised concerns about how recreational boaters will be notified of the changes and how they will deal with the alterations, considering many small vessels don’t carry VHF-FM radios.

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

The Coast Guard will continue to meet directly with harbormasters, mariners and local community members following the conversion to ensure the system is operating properly.

“In addition to wearing your lifejacket, a handheld marine radio is a critically important piece of safety equipment that can save your life during an emergency on the water,” said Lt. David Bourbeau, the waterways management chief for Sector Northern New England. “We urge all recreational boaters to consider carrying a radio not only to contact the Coast Guard in an emergency, but also as a tool to activate the new sound signals.”

Contact Bourbeau at [email protected] or 347-5015.

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