BANDON - The U.S. Coast Guard has decided to delay any action regarding the South Jetty foghorn until further notice and consideration of all options.
According to residents Tacy Andersen and Susan De Salvatore, Seattle based Coast Guard Commander Brendan Harris contacted them and the Port of Bandon last week and announced the agency will likely delay the change of the foghorn from a continuously sounding horn to a VHF-FM Marine Radio Activated Sound signal.
"We realized this could mean any number of things, but for right now, we owe a debt of gratitude to Cmdr. Harris and the Port of Bandon," Andersen said.
"Thank you for your advocacy and feedback concerning the fog signal," wrote Cmdr. Harris in a May 2 email. "I have not made the final call but I am leaning towards delaying the change of equipment for the fog signal. We will continue the dialogue and see what solution we can come up with that best supports the use of the waterway and maintains the desired atmosphere for the community."
The Coast Guard issued a Notice to Mariners about a month ago that they intended to convert the foghorn by May 10. In a subsequent press release, the Coast Guard cited significant wear and tear on the signal that is in operation 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. In the last 10 years, the equipment has broken down seven times, requiring an additional four visits to the site by the servicing aids to navigation team to conduct repairs, including the complete replacement in 2016.
De Salvatore has said her main concern is safety for small watercraft users who might not have a VHF radio. In addition, the regular 28 seconds off, 2 seconds on sound of the foghorn is nostalgic to many in Bandon as well as visitors.
Two weeks ago, the Port of Bandon Commission voted to send a letter to the Coast Guard, opposing the move and to show Port district residents they care about their concerns.
While a few in the community say they don't like the constant, artificial sound of the foghorn, the majority of those polled on social media and those who signed a petition against the change feel the sound is comforting and makes Bandon unique. No other continuously sounding foghorns are in service on the Washington or Oregon coast.