ARANSAS PASS, Texas — Right next to the ferry that takes cars back and forth between Aransas Pass and Port Aransas is a tall structure on Harbor Island.
This structure is called a range and although it may look simple, it's job is essential.
"This is the first range that they see when the commercial vessels, government vessels and recreational vessels come in from sea," Chad Zenthoefer with the ATON team said.
The Aids to Navigation or 'ATON' is a group with 12 members from the USCG in Corpus Christi. Every so often, they double check this range that leads the way for vessels coming in from the Gulf, to the Corpus Christi Bay.
"It marks their turn and it keeps all the traffic flowing for this multi-billion dollar industry that we have down here."
Zenthoefer said the range prevents huge barges from hitting unsafe water or worse, land.
On Thursday, some members of ATON headed out to the range and climbed over 30 feet into the air to inspect the light. Zenthoefer said it's one light bulb that cannot go out.
The ATON team are charged with keeping US waters safe. Just like roads have signs, speed limits and stoplights, the ATON team mitigates the rules of the road, on water.
"We're kind of under the radar."
Although they are a smaller team, Zenthoefer said in case of an emergency, they can act fast. This proved to be true after Hurricane Harvey.
"We were able to get this industry going again on a restricted basis but, ten days for a unit that has 12 members is tremendous."
Whether they're in the air or patrolling the waters, Zenthoefer and his teammates said they're ready for whatever comes their way.