Lighthouses of the British Indian Ocean Territory

Established in 1965, the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) includes the six atolls of the Chagos Archipelago, located south of the Equator near the center of the Indian Ocean. The islands were formerly administered as a dependency of Mauritius. They were detached as a separate colony in 1965 so that Britain and the U.S. could establish a military base on Diego Garcia, the largest atoll of the group. In 1966, the U.S. leased this base, now called the U.S. Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia, until 2016 with an option to extend the lease to 2036.

Former residents of the islands were displaced to Mauritius and Seychelles. In 2000 the British High Court ruled that they have the right in principle to return, and in 2006 the islanders were granted the right to visit their former homes for purposes such as tending the graves of their ancestors.

Mauritius claims sovereignty over the Chagos Archipelago, and Britain has promised to return sovereignty to Mauritius if the islands are no longer needed for defense purposes. This seems quite unlikely to happen in the foreseeable future.

ARLHS numbers are from the ARLHS World List of Lights. Admiralty numbers are from volume K of the Admiralty List of Lights & Fog Signals. U.S. NGA List numbers are from Publication 112.

Lighthouses
* Minni Minni
2002. Active; focal plane 14 m (46 ft); continuous white, red, or green light, depending on direction. 14 m (46 ft) unpainted cylindrical stainless steel tower with a small gallery and a modern solar-powered lamp. The builder's photo is at right, Google has a satellite view, and the U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command has an article on the installation of the light. Minni Minni, on the east side of the Diego Garcia atoll, was the former headquarters of the copra (coconut oil) plantations on the island. The light is shone northwestward, across the full width of the lagoon, to mark the entrance channel (a map of the atoll is available). Access to the island is restricted, but if you're there the site is open to anyone. Tower closed. ARLHS CHG-001; Admiralty K0808.5; NGA 33064.
* Diego Garcia (Harbor Control Tower)
Date unknown (1980s). Active; focal plane about 13 m (43 ft); continuous red light. Approx. 11 m (36 ft) square cylindrical masonry control tower attached to a 1-story building. A photo is available (about 1/4 the way down the page), and Google has a satellite view. Located on the waterfront at Diego Garcia's harbor. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty K0806; NGA 33052.
West Island
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 10 m (33 ft); two green flashes every 5 s. 10 m (33 ft) skeletal tower; the tower carries a diamond-shaped daymark painted in an orange and black checkered pattern. The light is seen in an aerial photo, and it appears as a small spot in Google's satellite view. Located on a small island marking the south side of the lagoon entrance. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty K0801; NGA 33040.
Minni Minni Lighthouse
Minni Minni Light, Diego Garcia
Vega Industries
photo

Adjoining pages: South: Mauritius | West: Seychelles

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Posted November 16, 2005. Checked and revised August 1, 2014. Lighthouses: 3. Site copyright 2014 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.