Coast Guard Sector San Juan’s Aids to Navigation Team has completed a rebuild project for the Current Rock and Steven Cay navigation lights in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Destroyed during hurricanes Irma and Maria, the Current Rock and Steven Cay lights are now back in service, providing awareness to maritime traffic of navigation hazards on the southwest entrance of Pillsbury Sound from Christmas Cove and the east side of Pillsbury Sound just off St. John, the Coast Guard said in a press release Tuesday.
Commercial ferries, passenger vessels, foreign cargo vessels, and recreational boaters use these essential aids to avoid rocks and ensure safe navigation.
Utilizing the unit’s 55-foot Aids to Navigation Boat and a 14-foot skiff, the team’s crew worked to transport thousands of pounds of material and equipment to the U.S. Virgin Islands over the last several weeks, the release stated. Over nearly 600 labor hours and 150 underway hours, the team completed the major overhaul and repair of these two vital Aids to Navigation structures. Between the Current Rock and Steven Cay structures, more than 25,000 pounds of mortar and concrete were required, along with other materials like rebar and plywood.
“The return of our 55-foot Aids to Navigation Boat has been instrumental to the successes of our unit,” said Chief Petty Officer Robert Quinn, Aids to Navigation Team Puerto Rico officer in charge. “I couldn’t be more proud to work alongside some of the finest hard-working Coastguardsmen coming up through the ranks. They proved their adaptability and resiliency in, although beautiful, extremely harsh and remote conditions,” he said.
“They were able to execute the mission safely and operated as a team. We look forward to taking on new projects in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico and provide the best service to the mariner.”
Cmdr. Nick Seniuk, Seventh Coast Guard District Waterways Management branch chief, said that Aids to Navigation Team Puerto Rico worked over the last year to develop the plan for these two rebuilds, which included coordinating all the logistics and securing the necessary funding. He further explained that $40,000 in material and transportation costs provided by the Seventh District Waterways Management Division, combined with the planning and execution of Aids to Navigation Team Puerto Rico, enabled a savings of up to $800,000 in commercial costs.
Aids to Navigation projects in the U.S. Virgin Islands for the upcoming fiscal year include the Christiansted Harbor Channel rebuild on St. Croix, the rebuild of the Buck Island St. Thomas light, and the correction of the Buck Island St. Croix light. In Puerto Rico, future projects include the correction of the Cayo Lobito light near Culebra Island and the correction of the Mona Island light.