Crusty old Joe's

Kodiak Alaska Military History

The official web site of the Kodiak Military History Museum

Sitkinak Island
Dwaine Swett photo 1973


This is a small island located just south of Kodiak. It's within sight of the village of Akhiok. Sitkinak is one of the Trinity Islands. It is separated into two parts by a marshy area in the center where there is a runway. Next to the runway there was a USCG Loran station. This station was active from circa 1960 until 1977. It transmitted Loran A and Loran C, for a while both at the same time.

The tallest peak on the island is 1432 feet. Near there on Sitkinak Dome, there was a communications building built in the mid fifties for aircraft control, but never equipped. You can read a bit about that in the book by Tony Smaker.

Recently the USCG has operated a remote unattended VHF relay site on the island. It was controlled by a radio link to the Alascom bush earth station at Akhiok and thence via satellite to Kodiak.

Sitkinak Island is one of the Trinity Islands south of Kodiak Island and is number NA053 and AK111 in the Islands On The Air, or IOTA, a ham radio thing.

Freds Place has a page for veterans of the Sitkinak Loran Station.

Dwaine Swett 1973

Date: Tue, 18 Feb 2003 11:59:27 -0800 
From: Dwaine Swett   Harold.D.Swett (at)
Subject: Sitkinak Island duty & pics 
Attached are more pictures of Sitkinak Island.

To answer some of your questions: A major resupply was done once a year in the spring when a ship docked at the north end of the island and equipment/machinery/fuel and other supplies were off loaded. Then there would be flights as necessary by a c130 through out the rest of year to supply the island. There were also scheduled flights of twice a week from Kodiak with smaller planes which could bring mail, small packages, light supplies, personnel and, of course, send mail, packages or personnel out as well. (That's how I came and went. I arrived by a "Duck" [Kodiak Western Airlines Goose] aircraft and left via the same. I do remember the day I was to leave that the "Duck" forgot to lower his wheels when he was landing and he came in on his "belly" and pontoons. No one was hurt but the plane couldn't be flown until repaired. Another plane was sent to get me.)

All communication was done by radio and mail. No TV, though I think we could pick up armed forces radio or it was piped through the intercom. We did get movies (16MM) flown into us for movie nights. (Thinking back on those days, we were closer to the MASH depiction of duty circumstances than we were to the gulf war era environment even though the Korean war was 22 years previously and the gulf war was 18 years away. I was there the summer of '73, not '74 as I stated previously.) We ate pretty well with the mess cooks preparing our meals Mon-Fri. The weekends we were on our own but the mess was open to each individual or group. We could fix pretty much what we wanted when we wanted it on the weekends. Just clean things up so it's ready for Monday morning breakfast.

There were around 25 guys stationed there at any given time. I was a hospitalman/medic by training and was sent here on temp duty to replace the medic who was due to get out of the Coast Guard. My biggest official duty was to monitor the new sewage treatment system which had recently been built. I remember I had to go out to this building where the sewage was being treated and take samples from the various tanks of the stuff. I then placed these samples into some instrument which would output readings and measurements. It sounded worse than it was, but it did smell pretty bad at times! My other major duty was to fill in as the yeoman. Lots of paperwork to be done.

Other than that, not a whole lot was going on. I did explore a bit while I was there and did a hike to the top of the nearby mountain. I don't know if this was the "Dome" to which you are referring. Anyway, there was an old air force installation half constructed up there. Lots of concrete structures but nothing was finished. I think it dated from the 50's. There was even a plane wreck on the side of one of the mountains. I imagine all of this still must be there. Mostly one had to "entertain" oneself. Reading and sleeping were popular. While I was there a club was created from a small anteroom and and there was a contest to name this club. The winning name was the "Blue Ptarmigan". (Named after a local bird). I can't remember if there was beer served or just soft drinks but everyone there seemed to maintain themselves pretty well.

We didn't do any boating. I don't even remember seeing a boat. (The seas were rough and there was always a wind blowing which would make going out in a boat difficult if not dangerous.) There were a few vehicles around, mostly as emergency services for the aircraft which flew here. There was one old truck which we could take out and go exploring, though there wasn't many places to go with only one road on the island. (The local joke was that there was a girl behind every tree. Of course, there were no trees on Sitkinak.)

There were the remains of what I took to be an old ranch at the north end of the island. There seemed to be corrals built and some buildings left from some previous enterprise. It was my impression that someone at one time tried to raise cattle here.

The climate was much like it was in Kodiak. The winters were damp and cold. The summer wasn't bad when I was there. Sun more days than not. Little rain in the summer.

I also remember that when my orders came through to report to Sitkinak (isolated duty) I thought my life was coming to an end. Of course, that wasn't the case but still this was something new to me and I had trouble getting my mind around it. But once I got there things were fine and I adjusted to this environment OK. (And I would only be here 4 months).

Hope you find this interesting,

Dwaine Swett

Dwaine Swett photo 1973 Dwaine Swett photo 1973 Dwaine Swett photo 1973 Dwaine Swett photo 1973 Dwaine Swett photo 1973 Dwaine Swett photo 1973 Dwaine Swett photo 1973 Dwaine Swett photo 1973 Dwaine Swett photo 1973

Don Harms 1974
Don Harms photo album

MS Word document from Don with comments on photos

Date: Thu, 02 Feb 2006 08:37:46 -0600
From: Don Harms dharms1 at houston dot rr dot com
Subject: Sitkinak Island Loran Station

I have recently discovered a box of slides that were taken while I was stationed 
on USCG Loran station Sitkinak Island during the year of April 1974 to April 
1975.  I have scanned these 91 slides and would be honored to make them 
available to you.  They certainly brought back some wonderful memories for me!

You may contact me to discuss how to transfer them to you.  CD-rom, zip file or 
whatever.  The total size of the 91 jpeg files is 100 megs so a CD-rom would 
probably be best.  Your call.
Don Harms
My name is Don Harms. I was an EM-2 in 1974 with the Coast Guard on Sitkinak Island. I just recently found my old box of slides from Sitkinak and have transferred them to digital format. The memories came flooding back as I was doing this. I will be happy to send anyone who desires one, a copy of this CD. All that is required is a mailing address. Email me at DonHarms at msn dot com Really would like to hear from my old shipmates again!

I look back today at my year on Sitkinak with pride. It was truly a tough time being away from my family for a year but I had a lot of great experiences there that I will always remember.

I made 1st class (EM-1) and eventually Chief before leaving the Coast Guard in 1980 after 12 years of service. It was a wonderful time for me and I wouldn’t trade the memories for anything!

I am terrible at remembering names now much less names from 30 years ago! My apologies to my shipmates on this matter!

Photos taken spring 1988

Taxi Way

Entrance Sign off the taxi way

North End of barracks/office/work shop compound

South End of barracks/office/work shop compound

Front Entrance of main building/barracks

Galley, Tony Smaker, KL7AF

Admin and Comms office

Galley, Curt Law, AL7LQ/WA2PIV

CO's Quarters

Quarters and Shop Spaces

Lorsta, Airstrip and Remote TX Building. Ant demolished in 1985 or 1986. Red circles locate the old tower base and guy points.

Sitkinak Dome - The red circle shows the dome where a station had been planned but never built.

August 2001
Twenty seven years after the closure of LORAN Station Sitkinak will see the final demise of this once active Coast Guard navigation station. In the summer of 2002 the wrecking ball will finally fall and remove all traces of the LORAN station. Only a crumbling runway will mark this once vital navigation link.

In August 2001, the Kodiak Military History Museum commissioned some volunteers to photograph the LORAN Station as it is today. This time next year, it will no longer exist.

Anyone who can help identify these pictures or provide us with pictures of when this LORAN Station was in its prime, would be appreciated.

Sitkinak Hilton sign *

Admin Office looking toward the fresh water lake *

Corner of admin office looking towards barracks *

The LORAN station sign is no longer there. The ravages of time have caused this to fall and decay. *

The head. *

Large common area. *

Galley *

Mess deck. Serving area. *

Mess deck. *

Passageway *

Room with furniture *

OIC/CO pantry *

View from the taxi way. Note the entry arch sign has fallen down and is in decay. *

Transmitter building *

Transmitter building *

Transmitter building in the distance *

View from where the fuel tanks were once located. *

Transmitter bldg and antenna pedestal. The antenna was removed around 1985. *

Garage and generator shop. *

One of the three generators that supplied power to the LORAN station. *

Shop in the generator/garage bldg. *

Another generator view. *

Generator switchboard. *

Machinery shop. Still presently in use. *


Pan & zoom Map of Sitkinak Island. Akhiok Village is the closest community. Akhiok is on the southern tip of Kodiak Island.

Station site *

Road to beach *

Home page
Freds Place Sitkinak Loran Station page

Leroy Hileman was there 1973-4.

Don Harms photo album 1974

David Anderson was there 1963-4.


* (Note: If largest photo version doesn't load, it may be only available on our CD-ROM of the website.)

Main index This page updated 2013 March 12