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Press Release | Jan. 31, 2024

Coast Guard honors legacy; Final Makapu’u Lighthouse keeper returns after 50 years

HONOLULU — Ron Cianfarani, retired U.S. Coast Guard Senior Chief Petty Officer and the final manual caretaker of the Makapu’u Lighthouse, received a guided tour from the Coast Guard’s Aids to Navigation Team (ANT) Honolulu, Jan. 24, 2024.

Built in 1909, the Makapu’u lighthouse was a fully manned and operational station until becoming automated in 1974. The Lighthouse has been under the maintenance and care of ANT Honolulu for the past 50 years. Cianfarani, currently in retirement, took the opportunity during his vacation to revisit the lighthouse and the grounds where he served.

The visit provided Cianfarani with a chance to reflect on the earlier era when lighthouse keepers and crews lived on-site, managing maintenance, repairs, and responding to emergencies such as shipwrecks. Significant changes incorporating solar panels, batteries, and modern LED lights have improved efficiency and visibility to the lighthouse, allowing the beacon to continue assisting mariners for years to come.

Established in 1789, the U.S. Lighthouse Establishment played a key role in constructing, maintaining, and repairing lighthouses, providing navigational aid to mariners. Evolving into the U.S. Lighthouse Service in 1910, it eventually merged with the United States Coast Guard in 1939.

While the responsibilities of a lighthouse keeper have evolved with technological advancements, the fundamental mission persists: ensuring the safety and navigation of mariners along coastlines. Cianfarani's visit underscores the enduring legacy of maritime history and the United States Coast Guard's commitment to safeguarding coastal waters.