Navigation Systems

Successful Voyages, Sustainable Planet: World Marine Aids to Navigation Day

Editor’s Note: The content of this post originally appeared in an official message to Coast Guard members on July 1, 2019. It has been edited for Maritime Commons. The original message is available here.

By Mr. Michael Emerson, Director of Marine Transportation System Management

During its General Assembly last year in Incheon, Republic of Korea, the International Association of Lighthouse and Marine Aids to Navigation Authorities (IALA) established the first World Marine Aids to Navigation Day on July 1, 2019, with the theme of “Successful Voyages, Sustainable Planet.”

Maintaining Aids to Navigation is the U.S. Coast Guard’s oldest mission. With the ninth law it passed, the Congress created the U.S. Lighthouse Establishment to provide “support, maintenance and repairs of all lighthouses, beacons, (and) buoys.” Later called the U.S. Lighthouse Service or Bureau of Lighthouses, the service safely guided mariners into American ports for 150 years before becoming a part of the Coast Guard in 1939.

Today, Coast Guardsmen on 68 cutters and at 63 Aids to Navigation teams maintain more than 48,000 buoys, beacons and electronic aids that help mariners to safely navigate more than 25,000 miles of waterways and facilitate more than $5.4 trillion in economic activity every year.

This complex and critical mission doesn’t stop at our water’s edge. In addition to managing the U.S. Aids to Navigation System, the U.S. Coast Guard has shaped global navigation guidelines and policies at IALA since it was established in 1957. Coast Guard personnel from the Office of Navigation Systems, Office of Shore Forces, Navigation Center, Waterways Operations Product Line, and Office of Enterprise Architecture and Technology Innovation serve as members and elected leaders on the IALA Council, ATON Regulations and Management Committee (ARM), eNav Information Services and Communications Committee (ENAV), ATON Engineering and Sustainability Committee (ENG), and Vessel Traffic
Services Committee (VTS).

This partnership and involvement with IALA ensures the U.S. Coast Guard, America’s multi-mission maritime service, maintains its storied legacy of light by working with its international partners to make waterways safer, more efficient and more resilient.

All Coast Guard ATON professionals past and present celebrate this milestone day and recognize the critical role of safeguarding the U.S. Maritime Transportation System for all mariners.

This blog is not a replacement or substitute for the formal posting of regulations and updates or existing processes for receiving formal feedback of the same. Links provided on this blog will direct the reader to official source documents, such as the Federal Register, Homeport and the Code of Federal Regulations. These documents remain the official source for regulatory information published by the Coast Guard.

2 replies »

  1. We also should give thanks to the Ciast Guard Auxiliary. At least in D1. They have been tasked with all PATON verification. Without these vital aids, the recreational mariner could not navigate

    • We couldn’t agree more, Jeffrey. The Auxiliary is an excellent group of people who contribute daily in many, many ways. Thanks for your kind words!
      LT Midgett, Editor

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