Remy Tumin
Monday, June 17, 2013 – 2:08pm

The U.S. Coast Guard has abandoned plans to modernize the optic at the Gay Head Light and will instead maintain the current sweeping beam.

Lieut. Matthew Stuck of the Coast Guard aids to navigation branch said Monday the Coast Guard has found a replacement optic for the current aging lens at the Gay Head Light. The light will likely be replaced in the next few months.

“We plan to acquire the replacement and install it for the failing rotating beacon,” Mr. Stuck told the Gazette. “Our hope is to maintain it for the indefinite future.”

Upgrading the current optic is a departure from the Coast Guard’s original plans. In April, the Coast Guard said it would replace the rotating light with a flashing LED light. The current optic, a rotating back-to-back drum, was installed in 1989. New rotating optics are very rare and no longer being manufactured.

Mr. Stuck said his department called other Coast Guard districts and was able to locate one in storage. Several hundred dollars of electrical upgrades will be required for the installation.

The optic should last several years, said Mr. Struck, but after that the future of the sweeping beam may once again be in jeopardy.

“My hunch is by the time we get to that place again, there’s a strong likelihood of not having [additional replacements],” Mr. Struck said.

The Coast Guard is preparing to divest the property to the General Services Administration, which will then place the historic light out to bid. The town hopes to acquire the light at that time, and eventually move it back from the cliff to protect it against erosion. The Coast Guard is expected to divest the property in August.

© 2013 Vineyard Gazette