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Angel's Gate Light Shows Way To Los Angeles
by Walter Ham, U.S. Coast Guard HQ
February 28, 2020

From the San Pedro Breakwater, the Los Angeles Harbor Light shines an emerald light that guides mariners into the second largest city in the United States.

October 11, 2018 - The Los Angeles Harbor Light, also known as the Angel’s Gate Light, shines a flashing green light that can be seen for 18 nautical miles. (U.S. Coast Guard courtesy photo)
October 11, 2018 - The Los Angeles Harbor Light, also known as the Angel’s Gate Light, shines a flashing green light that can be seen for 18 nautical miles. (U.S. Coast Guard courtesy photo)

Marking the entrance to the port complex for the City of Angels, the 69-foot-tall beacon is also called Angel’s Gate Lighthouse.

The lighthouse stands on the tip of the 9,250-foot-long breakwater built with nearly three million tons of rock from Santa Catalina Island. With a structural steel framework and steel plates that cover the first two floors of the six-floor tower, the Los Angeles Harbor Lighthouse has stood tall for more than a century.

U.S. Coast Guard Aids to Navigation Team (ANT) Los Angeles-Long Beach, maintains the beacon, which shines a flashing green light that can be seen for 18 nautical miles.

“The area is unique because it offers a large, safe and sheltered harbor for mariners and the land masses in the bay have been altered to be able to accommodate the thousands of container ships that transit the (San Pedro Bay) each year,” said U.S. Coast Guard Senior Chief Petty Officer Eugene R. Wright, the officer-in-charge of Aids to Navigation Team Los Angeles-Long Beach.

“The area around the lighthouse is very busy,” said Wright, a 19-year Coast Guard veteran from Crestview, Florida. “The container ships as well as cruise ships and various recreational boaters are our main customers.”

From Coast Guard Base Los Angeles on Terminal Island, the nine-member ANT maintains 18 buoys and 114 beacons, including eight lighthouses from Dana Point to Morro Bay, California.

ANT Los Angeles-Long Beach also maintains Aids to Navigation for seven of the eight Channel Islands. The lone exception, San Clemente Island, is maintained by ANT San Diego.

Wright said the ATON around the mainland typically mark inland waterway approaches to various ports as well as the prominent points of reference along the coast.

On a clear day, Wright and his team can see the Angel’s Gate Lighthouse and Catalina Island from the ANT Los Angeles-Long Beach Office.

"I am proud of the fact that we maintain such an iconic lighthouse and something that means a lot to the community," said Wright. "Not just for nostalgia but for commerce and safety of the Port of L.A."

Since 1913, the light has guided millions of mariners and billions of dollars of trade into Los Angeles. Located 25 miles south of downtown L.A., the seaport has been ranked the top container port in North America since 2000, according to the Port of Los Angeles.

"The light into Angel's Gate is one of two gates into the largest and most economically vital port complex in the nation,” said Capt. Monica L. Rochester, the Coast Guard Sector Los Angeles-Long Beach Captain of the Port. “The light is a critical component of the Maritime Transportation System supporting 20,000 commercial vessel movements and the unimpeded flow of more than 17.5 million containers, valued at an estimated $477 billion in trade annually."

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