The Coast Guard is asking for the public’s help to put a stop to the vandalism of aids to navigation (ATON).
Several navigational lights have recently been vandalized rendering them inoperable. Recently the batteries were deliberately and illegally removed from a light marking an offshore hazard.
The loss of this equipment costs taxpayers and the Coast Guard in many ways: first is the obvious financial burden of replacing the damaged or stolen equipment, second is the slowing of commercial and recreational traffic and third, is the possibility of environmental damage that could result from a collision or grounding that occurs because a hazard is not marked.
Those found guilty of vandalism to ATON can be fined up to $2,500 and imprisoned for up to five years. Anybody witnessing vandalism to a navigational aid or finding a damaged aid should contact their nearest Coast Guard unit.
“The marine highway, marked by ATONs, is the lifeblood of commerce and transportation. It is vitally important that these aids to navigation remain a reliable tool for mariners” said Lt. Cmdr. Dan Gray, commanding officer of the Coast Guard Cutter Maple.
Maple’s crew is responsible for servicing many of the buoys, lights and beacons in Southeast Alaska. Commissioned on Oct. 19, 2001, Maple is a 225-foot Juniper-Class buoy tender homeported in Sitka. Maple is operated by seven officers and a crew of 46 men and women.