Over the years in Sea Breezes although we have welcomed new technology which has improved the navigational tools at the disposal of the bridge team, we have also warned that the old skills and practices should not be totally cast aside.
They might come in useful in an emergency. Was there today an over dependence/reliance/ trust on GPS, ECDIS etc we asked.
I was therefore very interested to be made aware by an old friend and Blue Funnel shipmate, Captain Ian Hale, that in January 2016 the United States Coast Guard (USCG) had issued a marine safety alert (pdf link here). This alert warned mariners of “the potential detrimental impact to navigation caused by GPS interference or jamming and the importance of understanding how vessel or facility equipment could be impaired by the loss of a GPS signal.
“This past summer, multiple outbound vessels from a non US port suddenly lost GPS signal reception. The net effect was various alarms and a loss of GPS input to the ship’s surface search radar, gyro units and Electronic Chart Display & Information System. This resulted in no GPS data for position fixing, radar over ground speed inputs, gyro speed input and loss of collision avoidance capabilities on the radar display.”
Interestingly in its alert the USCG stressed, “Therefore it is important to remember to use all available means for navigation and maintain proficiency so you can still navigate should your primary GPS fail.”
I am sure, at least I hope, that bridge teams on vessels around the world will be asking themselves how they would cope in the event of a loss of a GPS sfignal.