Samuel G. Shaw and John M. Keever

Peer Reviewed

Abstract: The merchant marine of the United States, like that of most other nations, comprises a wide range of commercial vessels with only loose links among the various sectors. The existence of a full constellation of GPS satellites, however, has produced a growing acceptance of GPS by the maritime end-user community as a navigational standard. This process has been accelerated by a desire on the part of government and ship operators alike to reduce the likelihood of groundings resulting from navigational errors. The acceptance of this standard, however, has led to an unexpected consequence in that mariners may be too willing to over-rely on the GPS-generated information that has become available. In this paper we report observations concerning the training of maritime cadets in the use of GPS-equipment. Furthermore, personal experience with the use of GPS in actual navigation situations is described. Through this experience we have been able to detect a broad range of simple equipment-user mistakes. These mistakes, though easily prevented, are not easily detected unless some thought has been given ahead of time to constructing the piloting routine so that the navigator is automatically alerted to a problem. It is shown that a small adjustment in the way a marine GPS receiver is typically used will provide an automatic cross-check with radar navigation techniques that are popular in the merchant marine.
Published in: NAVIGATION: Journal of the Institute of Navigation, Volume 42, Number 2
Pages: 337 - 352
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