Coast Guard wants to hear from you about Cape Lookout Lighthouse light

(Photo: Cape Lookout National Seashore/Facebook)

OUTER BANKS, N.C. (WAVY) — The Coast Guard wants your opinion on a proposed solar-powered LED optic in the Cape Lookout Lighthouse.

The present power supply is at the end of its expected life. The Coast Guard wants to modernize the light by installing solar panels as the lighting’s energy source and using an LED light.

The new light would still flash white every 15 seconds and be visible from 360 degrees, but would no longer rotate. But the Coast Guard says this update will restore the light to its original characteristics.

The current light’s maximum range is about 24 nautical miles. The proposed new light would have a maximum range of about 14 nautical miles.

“Our utmost goal continues to be ensuring the safe navigation of the mariner,” explained Chris Scraba with the U.S. Coast Guard 5th District Waterways Management Branch. “With Cape Lookout Shoals already properly marked with six sea-going buoys, and the range of the new optic still reaching approximately four nautical miles beyond the continuous shoals, the modernization of the light will ensure its continued reliable service to the mariner in a cost-effective and environmentally conscious way.”

The Coast Guard has consulted with the North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and the National Park Service to preserve the light’s historical appearance. Solar panels would be placed at a SHPO approved site.

The Coast Guard intends to transition the light and energy source on October 1 — unless the current power supply fails first. If the current power supply fails before then, the Coast Guard will convert the light and energy source as soon as possible in accordance with response protocols.

Within the 5th Coast Guard District, which spans from Pennsylvania to North Carolina, 22 of 39 lighthouses have been modernized with solar panels during the past decade.

Interested mariners and stakeholders are encouraged to comment on the potential impact of this proposed change to the light’s range. All comments will be carefully considered. Feedback can be communicated using the U.S. Coast Guard 5th District waterway data sheet, available at:

If you would like to comment on the potential impact of the change to the light, you can provide feedback via this form. You can also email comments to Ethan Coble at Ethan.J.Coble@uscg.mil or to CGD5Waterways@uscg.mil. Comments should reference “Cape Lookout Modernization.” They may also be mailed to:

U.S. Coast Guard Fifth District
Waterways Management (dpw)
Attn: Ethan Coble
431 Crawford Street