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Routine Coastal Patrol Nets Lost Buoy for Coast Guard

Coast Guard Buoy
Coast Guard buoy washed ashore on the Outer Banks Photo By Maj. Fred Eldredge
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Aerial Team Inspects Coast After Nor'Easter


Coastal Patrol Base 21 and Cunningham Field Composite Squadron often team up for routine ES training, so the flight on Friday, Feb. 12,, was supposed to be a milk run. Taking off with Maj. Fred Eldredge at the controls, the flight swung out over the Cape Lookout lighthouse to do a quick scan of the Core Banks after a nor’easter the previous weekend had wreaked havoc among the islands of North Carolina’s South Outer Banks. 

The hour and a half fight to Billy Mitchell airport in Hatteras Village was marked by nothing unusual. Maj. Eldredge noted that the inlet opened by Hurricane Floyd in September, 1999 was rapidly closing. This temporary inlet just south of Drum Inlet was becoming silted over as tide and wind worked their wonders on the coast. 

Upon the return trip to Beaufort from Hatteras and approaching Drum Inlet, which is approximately 15 miles southwest of Ocracoke, Majors Eldredge and Fleagle spotted a red object on the beach just below the inlet. Upon closer inspection, Major Mary Fleagle, MS, identified the object as a Coast Guard navigational buoy that had apparently washed ashore on the Banks. 

After a couple of turns around the buoy, it was determined that the identification number of the buoy was unreadable. The GPS coordinates were then noted for later reporting to USCG Sector North Carolina. 

After landing at KMRH, the Coast Guard Sector NC, Fort Macon, was notified of the location and coodinates of the buoy. The operations folks at USCG Ft Macon were grateful for the information.