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Celestial nav returns to Naval Academy

Oct 13, 2015

In the 1990s, most people were crazy for GPS. It was the greatest invention since the sail and it made navigation a breeze. So when the U.S. Naval Academy decided to stop teaching celestial navigation in that decade, there were groans in some quarters (we were responsible for some of them!), but most people saw the elimination of celestial navigation instruction as a sensible step recognizing the new electronic reality.  

Of course, in the mid 1990s most people had only a very vague knowledge of hacker attacks, data breaches and cyber war. Now, however, we all have a much better idea of how vulnerable computers connected by the Internet can be. GPS is not just a constellation of satellites — it's a system controlled from the ground and that control is based on computers, making the system vulnerable. So now even the U.S. Navy is acknowledging the need for a backup system should satellite navigation become unavailable and is reinstating the teaching of celestial navigation.

Sounds like good practical seamanship to us.   

Edit Module

Dec 2, 2015 07:44 pm
 Posted by  seawriter

It should be easy to make the GPS system immune to hacker attacks. Don't connect it to the internet. Of course that does not prevent physical threats to the satellites or ground stations but let's work on one problem at a time.

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