Point Lonely, Avatanak Bight

Point Lonely, Avatanak Bight

by | Jul 19, 2019

Point Lonely was an auxiliary Distant Early Warning Line Station on Avatanak Bight off the Beaufort Sea, Alaska. Avatanak Bight is a shallow embayment about 9 miles (15 km) across, east of Smith Bay, between Point McLeod and Pitt Point. The Iñupiat name was first reported in 1951 by the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey. The nearest communities are Nuiqsut, located 75 miles (126 km) southeast, and Utqiagvik located approximately 85 miles (137 km) northwest. Prudhoe Bay is located approximately 150 miles (242 km) to the southeast.

The station was originally constructed in 1953, and in 1994 the installation was converted to a Short Range Radar Station, that operated until 2005 as part of the North Warning System with a minimally attended surveillance radar. In 2007, the Short Range Radar Station was closed due to soil erosion and increasing maintenance costs. The facility contains a rough airstrip at an elevation of 17 feet (5 m) above mean sea level. It has one runway with a gravel surface measuring 5,000 by 100 feet. The airstrip remains open to provide contractor support access to the military radar site.

In 1998, Pacific Air Forces initiated “Operation Clean Sweep”, in which abandoned Cold War stations in Alaska were remediated and the land restored to its previous state. The site remediation of the radar and support station at Point Lonely was carried out by the 611th Civil Engineering Squadron from Elmendorf Air Force Base, and remediation work was completed by 2005. However, an unauthorized dump-site located near the western edge of a saltwater lagoon received waste from the Point Lonely station between 1955 and 1976. Coastal erosion accelerated by the loss of sea ice is exposing the dump to ocean waves. In 2003, the ocean-side of the facility lost over 150 feet (46 m) of shoreline causing an abandoned pump house to collapse on the beach. Read more here and here. Explore more of Point Lonely here:

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