The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse has been “turned off” for roughly a month now, due to damage from a wave of January storms.
it was not clear which exact storm caused the lighting issue, (whether
it was the early January storm or the severe thunderstorms on January
12), the damage was reported by the weekend of January 13 to the
National Park Service (NPS) and the U.S. Coast Guard.
The NPS manages the lighthouse itself, while the U.S. Coast Guard maintains the operation of the light.
Aids to Navigation Teams in Wanchese sent an Electrician Mate to the
site once the damage was reported in January. Since then, the parts
needed to make the repair have been ordered, however there is not yet
an exact timeframe of when the repair will be complete.
due to the custom nature of the parts, we are simply waiting for the
parts to come in,” said Petty Officer Third Class Nate Cox, Public
Affairs Specialist for District 5 of the U.S. Coast Guard. “The good
news is that our team in Hatteras is ready. As soon as the parts come
in, they are poised and ready to get them placed and mechanically
U.S. Coast Guard said they will fix it on the same day that the [parts
arrive],” said Boone Vandzura, Chief Ranger for the Cape Hatteras
National Seashore, who has been in continual communication with the
Coast Guard on the issue. “They understand the significance. They know
it isn’t just a job, and we appreciate that they understand the
importance [of getting the lighthouse fixed] for our community.”
slow process to make the repair boils down to the initial paperwork,
but more significantly, to the replacement parts themselves.
the end of January, the paperwork to order the parts had been filed.
Once the paperwork was submitted, the company manufacturing the parts,
(which is based in Cincinnati, Ohio), required roughly 20 days to
create the parts from scratch.
are not stock parts,” said Cox. “From what we can tell, they are the
original parts to the lighthouse, and they’ve had to locate a
manufacturer, go through the description process of what the part
entails, and custom make the parts to fit a very specific mechanism.”
parts are] extremely rare,” he added. “It’s an estimated 20 days [to
build], but with custom parts, the design time and manufacturing times
could take longer.”
parts that need to be replaced and re-created tie into the lighthouse’s
electrical systems. According to Vandzura, the light of the beacon
itself works, however the problem is located where the electric goes to
the power base to make the rotating arms move.
“This wasn’t a typical malfunction – this seemed to be a much more complex malfunction,” said Cox.
similar issue popped up in February of 2016, when the lighthouse became
stuck, with its beacon fixed into the homes of a number of Buxton
residents. This go around, the lighthouse has been turned off, which
removes any potential annoyance of a stray beacon shining into a local
“Instead of being in one position, it’s been temporarily turned off,” said Vandzura.
February 12, marked day 17 of the 20-day window for the parts’
creation, and Vandzura and the U.S. Coast Guard were jointly examining
options for expedited shipping once the parts were complete.
the meantime, the nearly one-month period marks the longest time in
recent memory that the lighthouse hasn’t been continually shining its
is the longest time that it’s been off in history, that we’re aware
of,” said Vandzura. “But as soon as the part[s] comes in, they will
[install them] on the same day.”