After more than a month of dark skies, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse was once again shining its light on Saturday night, February 17.
The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse had been turned off since roughly January 12, after several severe winter storms affected the Hatteras Island area, and caused damage to hard-to-replace parts on the lighthouse’s electrical systems.
“This wasn’t a typical malfunction – this seemed to be a much more complex malfunction,” said Petty Officer Third Class Nate Cox, public affairs specialist for District 5 of the U.S. Coast Guard in an earlier interview.
The damage was reported to the National Park Service (NPS) which manages the site, and the US Coast Guard, which manages the light itself, shortly after the damage occurred.
The Aids to Navigation Teams in Wanchese sent an electrician mate to the site once the damage was initially reported in January, but the repair required new parts to be manufactured from scratch, due to both the age of the lighthouse as well as the rarity of the lighting fixtures.
“They are not stock parts,” said Cox in an earlier interview. “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.”
A company in Cincinnati, Ohio, tackled the task of creating the parts, which took approximately 20 days to build from start to finish. Once complete, they were installed by the US Coast Guard on Saturday, February 17, shortly after they arrived.
By sunset on Saturday night, the lighthouse was once again rotating its beam after weeks of darkened skies in Buxton. The more than a month-long timeframe for the complicated repairs and parts replacement was the longest period that the lighthouse had been turned off in recent memory.