Guardians of the Week – Loranimals

No comments
Chief Thomas Hanson sauntered back to LORAN Station Baudette while a light snow fell, April 2, 2008. Hanson is months away from retirement after spending half his career at isolated Long-Range Navigation Stations like this one. (Photo by PA3 William Mitchell)
BAUDETTE, Minn. – Chief Thomas Hanson sauntered back to LORAN Station Baudette while a light snow fell, April 2, 2008. Hanson is months away from retirement after spending half his career at isolated Long-Range Navigation Stations like this one. (Photo by PA3 William Mitchell)
LORAN Support Unit (LSU) Wildwood, NJ logo
LORAN Support Unit (LSU) Wildwood, NJ logo

This week, we are dedicating the Guardian of the Week to all the Coast Guard men and women who during their careers had the privilege of becoming a Loranimal. A Loranimal is a term of endearment given to a person who is serving or has served at a Coast Guard Long Range Navigation (Loran) site.

Some say the nickname Loranimal is given only to the Electronic Technicians (ET) who spent the majority of their Coast Guard careers bouncing from one Loran station to another, but I also know other Guardians who are not ETs that refer to themselves as Loranimals. It is a name reserved for a distinct and rather small group of individuals from across all ranks and ratings including Machinery Technicians , Storekeepers and even Food Service Specialists (who else is going to make sure Guardians eat right and can survive in some of the furthest reaches of the nation since being a Loranimal often meant being sent to an isolated duty station like Port Clarence or Attu in Alaska or to an atypical Coast Guard location like Las Cruces, New Mexico or Boise City, Oklahoma).

KODIAK, Alaska - SNET Matt Gross closes a gate on a transmitter at Loran Station Kodiak.  Gross is part of a 7-person crew that keeps the station functioning 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  (Photo by PA1 Keith Alholm)
KODIAK, Alaska – SNET Matt Gross closes a gate on a transmitter at Loran Station Kodiak. Gross is part of a 7-person crew that keeps the station functioning 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. (Photo by PA1 Keith Alholm)

Many unsuspecting people around us are actually closet Loranimals. I was an ET3 at Loran-C Station Shoal Cove, Alaska. The Commandant himself, Admiral Thad Allen, served as the Commanding Officer of Loran Station Lampang, Thailand. Who else out there is proud to call themselves a Loranimal?

During it’s time, Loran was the new age method of navigation. But, as a result of technological advancements in the last 20 years, it has become an antiquated system. I guess we Loranimals knew the days of the Global Positioning System would catch up to us. I think we knew the days of Loran would end as the reliability and accuracy of GPS took center stage. Sure, many fishermen still use our Loran-C lines on their charts to denote their favorite fishing hole, but that is just a creature of habit since we all know the fishermen probably used GPS to get to that favorite fishing spot…

CAROLINA BEACH, N.C.- PO1 Amel Davis mows the grass at Loran Station Carolina Beach on August 12, 2008, one of the many unusual duties that is part of life at a small, isolated unit. (U.S. Coast Guard photo / PA2 John D. Miller)
CAROLINA BEACH, N.C.- PO1 Amel Davis mows the grass at Loran Station Carolina Beach on August 12, 2008, one of the many unusual duties that is part of life at a small, isolated unit. (U.S. Coast Guard photo / PA2 John D. Miller)

President Barack Obama recently pledged to eliminate unnecessary federal programs and his fiscal year 2010 budget supported the termination of outdated systems, specifically citing the terrestrial-based North American Loran-C system as an example. Yesterday, the Coast Guard announced that on February 8, 2010, at 2000 GMT (3 p.m. EST), it will cease the transmission of the North American Loran-C signal and will commence a phased decommissioning of Loran-C infrastructure. It was determined it was no longer a prudent use of U.S. taxpayer funds to continue to operate the Loran-C system.

Tears are falling on my keyboard as I mourn a dear part of my early Coast Guard career…

To Guardians from all the corners of the Coast Guard, you have done an excellent job running and maintaining the Loran-C signal for 52 years. It is a service and mission of which the entire Coast Guard can be proud. Well done Loranimals!

For more information on the termination of the Loran-C signal, click here to read a Compass blog post. For more history on the Loran system, click here.

Continue to tune in to the Compass for more posts on the Loran-C legacy as it ends its service life. You can also follow @uscoastguard and the hashtag #loranc on Twitter.

Leave a Reply