Coast Guard team installs new beacon for Harbor of Refuge
It takes a team to keep the Harbor of Refuge Lighthouse operating as an active aid to navigation. The Delaware River and Bay Lighthouse Foundation Inc., a Delaware nonprofit corporation, owns and maintains the structure.
While the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for the century-old Harbor of Refuge breakwater, or outer wall, the U.S. Coast Guard Aids to Navigation Team Chincoteague maintains the light and fog signal.
In October, the Coast Guard replaced the 19 nominal range light in the lighthouse with a new, state-of-the-art LED light that cost $24,000. The Sabik VRB-25-6P-1T-LED is a cutting-edge, high-output rotating lighthouse beacon that will flash every 10 seconds and maintains the 19 nominal range.
Batteries were replaced in the light and the fog signal. Both have historically been underpowered using 2 volt batteries which have had a history of failing after only two years, when a normal life is typically 10 years. This light is 2.5 hours’ travel from Aids to Navigation Team Chincoteague, and just in the last two months, the ANT has been called to respond five times.
The battery rack has been replaced twice in the last four years at a cost of more than $11,000. The Coast Guard’s efforts are decreasing reliance on the current hard-to-procure batteries.
Boatswain’s Chief Petty Officer Adam J. Season said, “This change to self-contained LEDs is in support of the Commandant's Strategic Plan. It will also use only four Delco batteries and three 40-watt solar panels, instead of the present 15 solar panels. This will reduce the long lead time for batteries, reduce hazardous waste and reduce the solar panel footprint on this historic lighthouse.”
The improvements made to the Harbor of Refuge light create an opportunity for the Coast Guard to test and evaluate this beacon inside the cupola of an established lighthouse, providing insight for future beacon replacement projects.
The old light is now on exhibit inside the lighthouse next to other lenses from the past.
To learn more or donate toward preservation efforts, go to delawarebaylights.org.
The foundation team thanks all its hardworking volunteers and continuing supporters.