One of the things that the United States Coast Guard is known for is its ATON, or aids to navigation. From the earliest days of electronics and radar, the Coast Guard has been involved in different programs and pioneered ways to make global navigation easier and more available, from buoys and physical channel, range and waterway markers to the electronic and technological methods of navigation.
In 1942, the United States Navy developed a method of determining where a location was on the globe using electronic range finding. This method was called LORAN, or Long Range Aids to Navigation, and it involved using radio signals sent out from stations situated around the globe. By receiving signals from the different stations and using a plotting chart, it was possible to determine within a short range exactly where you were located. This has a high value when plotting courses and determining navigation from one place to another.
Using two or more radio directional pulse beacons, it is now possible to determine within a short variance where you are located on the surface of the Earth. But in 1942, it was all just beginning, and the United States Coast Guard was part of the effort and pioneering of the new LORAN method of navigation. The Coast Guard participated in setting up stations in Nova Scotia, Canada, Greenland, Alaska, and many other locations around the world, with the new system swiftly taking shape by the end of World War II. What LORAN meant to the world, and to the Allied effort in World War II was huge. By being able to precisely locate where they were and to navigate with precision, the vital wartime convoys were able to get swiftly across the Atlantic, and the threat of the dreaded U Boats and Hitlerâ€™s submarine Wolf Pack was lessened.
Hitler had successfully terrorized shipping and wartime convoys of all different types in the first years of the War, and some of the terror was due to not being able to navigate across the Atlantic in a short period, if celestial fixes (the traditional means of navigation) were not available due to poor weather then often time was lost because convoys did not know exactly where they were, or where they were headed. The new LORAN system helped to change all of that. While it did not come into effect early enough to drastically change the direction or length of the War, it did come in time to help in different ways.