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  1. #1
    Super Admin Chaotix's Avatar
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    Default Old-school seafaring tech considered as GPS fallback ?

    GPS is super useful when you're trying to navigate unfamiliar areas in cars and on foot, but for ships, it's an outright lifeline. Many vital systems, especially on large commercial vessels, rely almost entirely on GPS data, meaning it's a pretty huge deal when satellite connection is lost. GPS is far from infallible, and signals can be jammed by equipment and even solar storms, which is why the UK has begun rolling out a fallback positioning network that uses technology first implemented by the US Navy during WWII. The once-popular Loran positioning system was essentially superseded by GPS, but in a twist to the tale, the UK is using an improved version, known as eLoran, to ensure ships aren't completely reliant on satellite signals. Trials started at the beginning of last year, and the first seven eLoran stations are now live along the East coast of Great Britain, with all the UK's major ports expected to be covered by 2019.

    The ground-based eLoran system uses long-range radio waves for positioning, much like space-based GPS. It operates on different frequencies, however, and carries a much stronger signal that's significantly harder to interfere with. It's the perfect back-up, then, if satellites start falling out of the sky while a ship is trying to traverse a crowded port. Older Loran networks are being decommissioned as they aren't deemed cost-effective, but the UK isn't the only place interested in building new, eLoran infrastructure. South Korea is particularly keen on the technology, as it knows the implications of a GPS blackout all too well. What pranksters those North Koreans are.

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  3. #2
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    As a Private Pilot and retired Army Reserve member of near 3 decades i'm a little surprised the Article states that marine navigation is almost totally reliant on GPS data. I've no experience with major shipping, however for military land movements and General Aviation planes GPS should always be regarded as only one of at least two navigation methods, each being a check on the other. But i guess the sailors have a bit more room for error than aviators and troops ... maybe?

    North Koreans are pranksters? That implies they have a sense of humour. So does 'Handy' Gary Clare my favourite personality in my favourite Breakfast Crew on 4KQ Brisbane [my favourite radio station obviously]. I wonder how the commie North would deal with this:
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil View Post
    As a Private Pilot and retired Army Reserve member of near 3 decades i'm a little surprised the Article states that marine navigation is almost totally reliant on GPS data. I've no experience with major shipping, however for military land movements and General Aviation planes GPS should always be regarded as only one of at least two navigation methods, each being a check on the other. But i guess the sailors have a bit more room for error than aviators and troops ... maybe?
    Why marine navigation cant use GPS data ? I find it the same as both are depending on Sattelite maps !!!
    I have no experience on this ,... sorry ..., But ,is marine navigation too complicated to not use the familarized GPS data ?

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    No no. You misunderstand me in that. GPS for all forms of navigation is a modern marvel but as the article correctly points out it can be affected by different interference sources both natural and manmade. I was a bit surprised by the implication that big ships 'rely almost totally' on GPS for navigation, even to the point of implying that eLoran is only now being used by the UK as a 'fallback' implying that there isn't any fallback already in place:
    ........ Many vital systems, especially on large commercial vessels, rely almost entirely on GPS data, meaning it's a pretty huge deal when satellite connection is lost. GPS is far from infallible, and signals can be jammed by equipment and even solar storms, which is why the UK has begun rolling out a fallback positioning network that uses technology first implemented by the US Navy during WWII. The once-popular Loran positioning system was essentially superseded by GPS, but in a twist to the tale, the UK is using an improved version, known as eLoran, to ensure ships aren't completely reliant on satellite signals.
    That's my inference of it anyway and although the author might not have meant it, i suspect a totally uniformed layman reading that Article would think that ships are presently 'completely reliant on satellite signals' as it states verbatim [in some contradiction of the earlier 'rely almost totally on GPS data']. That implication's rubbish imo in that i'm certain they do use other checks/backup methods already. I'm sure there is no commercial ship sailing anywhere in the world right now that's legally navigating using GPS solely. Surely there must be redundancy for marine navigating whether that be radio [e.g. loran] or radar or celestial or good old compass & chart/dead reckoning. Certainly aircraft cannot legally fly using only GPS for navigating and i doubt ships can sail using only GPS legally either. That's my only point really, and not to denigrate GPS as a navigation method or indeed imply ships can't use GPS data for navigating.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil View Post
    That's my only point really, and not to denigrate GPS as a navigation method or indeed imply ships can't use GPS data for navigating.
    Understood , thanks for clearing that ,
    yep , that is what i was thinking ..Ships cant sail with only GPS systems they need other tools to help getting the accurate direction , and learning the history of Old Time Sailors we can get an idea How things have evolved

    the earliest sailors just kept in sight of land. That worked for sailing or paddling between closely-spaced islands, or running along a coastline. And it was awfully limiting. Without any other aids, about all one could do is wait until the sun rose or set, and use that to get a good idea what direction was East or West. But if you're out of sight of land, you can easily go in large circles and not realize it, so that wasn't much good.

    The first useful invention to help was the magnetic compass. With that you could hold a steady direction as you sailed. And with something called "dead reckoning" -- estimating how far you've sailed each hour, or day, or whatever -- a captain or navigator could pretty well keep track of where the ship was. For short trips, anyway. But errors crept in over time, and ocean currents threw the calculations off. And a storm could blow the ship so far off course as to render any estimates of location pretty much hopeless. Even so, the compass and dead reckoning enabled trips of up to a week or two, in good weather.

    Even back in the time of sailing ships, technology wa the key to knowing where you were. First came the magnetic compass. The next invention needs a bit of explanation first:

    When sailors talked of a ship's "location" they mean its Latitude and Longitude on the ocean. You've seen those indicated on globes. The "Latitude" lines are those that run horizontally around the globe. The "Longitude" lines are those running vertically from pole to pole. The easy way to remember which is which is that "LATitude" lines are the ones that lie FLAT
    .

 

 

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