By Ron VandenBoom
It might not be the loneliest military outpost in the world, but it's close. At least this was the case until Thursday when about 60 people made the trek 16 miles north of Havre to eat hot dogs and help celebrate the 10th anniversary of the only U.S. Coast Guard Station in Montana.
The station first opened on Feb. 28, 1991.
Personnel at the Coast Guard's Long Range Aid to Navigation (LORAN) Station used the occasion to extend honors, in the form of Certificates of Appreciation, to representatives of Triangle Telephone Cooperative and Hill County Electric for their hard work and reliability in providing services to the facility.
A special Certificate of Appreciation was also presented to each of the wives of the station's personnel for their hard work, dedication and sacrifice associated with being the wives of military personnel.
Visitors were also given a tour of the facility and received an explanation on what the site does and how the station's broadcasting of a continuous and reliable signal is used as an aid to navigation by aircraft and ships.
LORAN Station is required to maintain a continuous signal 99.9 percent of the time.
Station Commander, Chief Petty Officer, Greg Hejl said that he was pleased with the turn out and the interest visitors seemed to show in the function of the station.
Hejl said he sees at least another 10 years of continuous operation of the site despite rumors that GPS (Global Positioning Systems) would soon replace the navigation signal.
Hejl explained that GPS has been found to be a very expensive system when compared to the LORAN system and that GPS is also suseptable to jamming and other forms of interference.
The Coast Guard decided that this would not be good for the military to be dependent on such a fragile system, Hejl said about GPS.
"The system we have here is very robust," Hejl said. "And compared to GPS, it's very, very inexpensive."
Only four personnel are responsible for operating Loran Station and Hejl explained that this makes their function "very economical."
Hejl also expressed his deep appreciation for the people of Havre.
"I'm just so impressed with the people here," he said. "They're wonderfully nice."