Panbo

eLoran, dead on arrival?

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Dec 16, 2009
CrossRate_eLoran.JPG

Well, this may be the saddest product introduction ever.  Last week CrossRate Technology finally launched its flagship eLGPS 1110 multi mode receiver.  If I had one powered up outside the lab right now, I'm confident that it could use both regular Loran-C, including the eLoran enhancements already added to the system, and WAAS GPS to determine my position in two ways -- and thus redundantly -- and could also use Loran to provide heading even when stationary.  But here's the giant rub:  A single signature, which may come at any moment, could end Loran-C, and eLoran, in the U.S.A. for good, starting next month...

Frankly, I'm amazed that it's come to this and, like CrossRate, hold out hope that Secretary Napolitano will see the light and keep Loran alive.  When I last reported on this issue in February, 2008, it seemed evident that the Coast Guard's efforts to shed its Loran financial obligations were just that, and that many responsible parties wanted to see Loran perfected into an eLoran backup to GPS for all sorts of purposes besides marine navigation.  And it's been going like that ever since.  Heck, here's what the Independent Assessment Team (IAT) from the Institute for Defense Analyses reported to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) last January (pdf here):

IAT Conclusions and Major Recommendation:
   � Reasonable assurance of national PNT {Position, Navigation, Timing} availability is prudent and responsible policy, needed for ubiquitous, critical safety of life and national and economic security, as well as quality of life, applications dependent upon GPS-based PNT.
   � eLoran is the only cost-effective backup for national needs; it is completely interoperable with and independent of GPS, with different propagation and failure mechanisms, plus significantly superior robustness to radio frequency interference and jamming. It is a seamless backup, and its use will deter threats to US national and economic security by disrupting (jamming) GPS reception.
   � The US Government policy decision is needed to motivate users to equip and to demonstrate continued leadership internationally.  Thus, the IAT unanimously recommends that the U.S. Government complete the eLoran upgrade and commit to eLoran as the national backup to GPS for 20 years.
Thus, the IAT unanimously recommends that the U.S. Government complete the eLoran upgrade and commit to eLoran as the national backup to GPS for 20 years.
Yet, someone in the Obama administration's budget team identified Loran-C as an obsolete system that should be eliminated, the President himself referenced it thusly last May, and no one has been able to reverse this mistaken -- and financially inconsequential -- process since. One of my senators tried, BoatUS tried, the RTCM just fired off a strong letter, and the editors of GPS World have not pulled punches.  Yet Obama has signed the DHS appropriations bill with the Loran shut down clause, the U.S. Coast Guard Commandant certified that termination of Loran-C will not adversely impact maritime navigation, and the only step remaining is for Secretary Napolitano to agree.  Can you believe it, especially given that the cost of completing eLoran is not much more than cost of mothballing all the Loran-C stations?  I don't know if it will do any good, but I did just leave a message for the Secretary regarding the value of Loran-C and eLoran at the comment number below.
   And I also spoke today with one of the CrossRate team who's been working hard to create a high quality eLoran/GPS receiver.  While he had to wistfully admit that their new eLGPS 1110 may be pretty much useless in U.S. waters soon, there are potential markets in Europe and Asia, where eLoran is going ahead.

Contact_Secretary_Napolitano.JPG
 

Comments

Tie it to health, then it will get passed...

Posted by: Kildare at December 16, 2009 6:14 PM | Reply

I have not seen a Loran C receiver for sale for years. I have not seen a Loran C on any vessel for years. Common sense tells me that the system could be shut down and it would take years before anyone knew it was gone.

That it has survived makes me believe that it has some use for the Defense Department. Submarines I believe could get a Loran fix while submerged; a GPS signal can't penetrate water. As a Scuba diver I would love to have an underwater navigation similar to what I have on my boat.

Unless there is a compelling reason to have Loran in the national interest, I just can't agree that the need for a backup is reason enough to save it. My vote is to shut it down.

Patrick Harman

Posted by: Patrick Harman at December 16, 2009 6:33 PM | Reply

Thanks for this post. It doesn't make sense to be shutting down a system as cost efficient as Loran. eLoran would provide a redundant system that is as convenient as GPS when it is most critical, approaching the coast. I understand that it could potentially have many other application shoreside as well.

Posted by: Kennebec Captain at December 16, 2009 6:47 PM | Reply

So, Patrick, are you 100% confident that the GPS system will always work? And do you realize how many other critical systems like power networks and cell phones are dependent on it, particularly for timing?

I think we've been extremely lucky that GPS has been so reliable. But that's led to this situation where expert after expert says we need eLoran to back up GPS, but we as nation are going to shut down Loran/eLoran to save a measly 100 million dollars or so (which won't really be saved as that's about what it will cost to button up the existing Loran sites).

Posted by: Ben at December 16, 2009 6:53 PM | Reply

Go ahead and shut it down.

Posted by: Patrick - sv Deep Playa at December 16, 2009 8:22 PM | Reply

Keep it! As sailors, we should recognize the value of backup systems. GPS has an unlikely but devastating doomsday vulnerability, and the step from there to celestial nav is a daunting one. If the mothball cost is at the same order of magnitude as keep-alive, then where is the argument... especially with eLoran's repeatability and elimination of single-point failure potential? Heck, it's even embeddable like GPS.

I totally agree, Ben - it's insane to kill it off.

Posted by: Steve Roberts at December 16, 2009 10:35 PM | Reply

Unfortunately, LORAN C and eLORAN is finished. The original technology was developed in WWII and while it is robust in some ways, the 100kHz signal has many other problems. Such as local boat interference and land/building distortion in the low frequency 100kHz wave propagation characteristics. These problems have been reduced somewhat with newer H-Field Antennas and All-In-View eLORAN Algorithms but, they are still inherent in the system. As per the previous comment, people simply don't want to buy them as well!!! Indeed, what's the point of investing hundreds of millions of our taxpayer dollars on eLORAN if almost no one has the hardware to receive the signal!!! Judging by Ben's frugal opinions and similar opinions of other commenters on this site, where is the market for this geographically limited $1000+ backup system that is inferior to a $100 GPS in terms of position fixing?

Furthermore, if there is a problem with GPS, it will be due to a war with a Nuclear capable country such as China or the former Soviet Union. In that event, I believe that we'll have much bigger problems than loss of the GPS.(This is pure speculation on my part but entirely plausible). I don't believe that GPS is vulnerable to a low-tech terrorist attack or hackers at any level. Of course, I could be wrong but, I'm not.

Anyway, the US has obviously pushed all of our chips in on GPS whether we like it or not.
Other global satellite systems like Glonass and Galileo will take LORAN Cs place.

Welcome to the new decade and SAYONARA to LORAN C!!!

Posted by: Capt Jack at December 16, 2009 11:11 PM | Reply

As I understand it, based on reading a lot of material over the last two years, eLoran can matter a whole lot to Boaters ...

1. On Your Boat: this might not matter so much while your on your boat, the combined eloran/GPS receivers are a substantial investment.

2. On An Airplane: This could be life or death people! As airplanes move to including GPS systems in the future as part of the landing system, the eLoran system offers a redundancy that could be vital. Or more likely, they won't make the technology switch because the reliability won't be there, which brings us too ...

3. Concerned About the Environment and/or reliance on mideast for energy supplies: the redundancy eLoran offers may accelerate the date in which the nations airlines adopt GPS that has impacts in that airplanes can:
(a) stop using lanes in the highways flying from radio beacon to beacon, and fly more direct routes lowering fuel consumption.
(b) increase the number of take off's and landings in bad weather, easing congestion as well as cost avoiding airport expansions. (note: todays automated landings systems are partially limited that the plane ahead may block the ground transmitter, so planes need to be more spaced apart when using these systems at crowded airports)

4. And as a boater at home: The whole energy grid and many other servces we recieve is dependent on timing signal from GPS used to enable precise syncronization of the electric grid. While these systems can run for some time without GPS, GPS signals can be faked by terrorists, where eLoran signals cannot.

The CG is probably right that the economic benefit (and therefore cost) belongs with another part of the government, but the Obama administration is making a terrible decision to cancel eLoran rather than transfer the responsibility.

If it is really to be shut down, somebody in private industry should take over the system and license it, I would buy stock in such a company!

Posted by: Dan Corcoran (b393capt) at December 16, 2009 11:39 PM | Reply

Hey Ben,

Capt. Kelly Sweeney wrote:

Ahoy Richard! You may recall this article with my take on eLORAN... Feel free to post/forward it if desired... Also, would you be kind enough to forward it to the PanBo guy for his info? Thanks, shipmate! Smooth Sailin.' Kelly
Issue Date: Issue #128 Sept. 2008

Keeping both GPS and sextant onboard is advisable
http://www.professionalmariner.com/ME2/dirmod.asp?sid=&nm=&type=Publishing&mod=Publications::Article&mid=8F3A7027421841978F18BE895F87F791&tier=4&id=780A35C053DB4F7581C4F7BF1697D75C

Capt. Kelly Sweeney
captsweeney@professionalmariner.com

Posted by: Richard Rodriguez at December 17, 2009 12:38 AM | Reply

GPS is wonderful, but always a heartbeat away from failure. One solar flare of great intensity and there goes one hemisphere of GPS coverage. For this reason alone I keep an old sextant close by. I thought eLORAN was a great idea

Posted by: Richard C at December 17, 2009 1:38 AM | Reply

I can't see how spending tax dollars on loran can be justified any longer. Sure, it is possible for a major failure of the GPS system, but there is always a compass and a clock and radar that can be used as a backup. Everyone has had their compass calibrated haven't they?

I like Dan's idea of privatization.

Posted by: Rick at December 17, 2009 7:40 AM | Reply

Depending upon a single electronic aid for position data when a ship approaches the coast violates principles of safe navigation. In practice however this is exactly what is happening. Anyone who thinks watch officers are double-checking the gps if fooling themselves. I haven't seen a mate with a sextant in their hand for years and I have to remind my navigators to plot a radar bearing and range when they pass close by a landmark. The truth is that navigators will not use back-up methods to check the GPS unless it is as convenient as GPS. The fact that we presently depending almost 100% on GPS does not make it right.

Posted by: Capt Ken E. Beck at December 17, 2009 7:43 AM | Reply

Interesting cost bits from the IAT report:

* eLoran upgrades of existing infrastructure are about 70% complete, funded by Congressional appropriations totaling $159M during FY1997-2006.

* eLoran (including the recommended four new transmitters) costs about half one new GPS on-orbit satellite.

* If offset by decommissioning cost of existing Loran infrastructure, eLoran is free.

* Bottom line & worst case: eLoran requires existing $37M/year USCG O&M base funds plus $20M/year new funds for 5-8 years to complete all upgrades, new transmitters, and �jump start� deferred maintenance until de-staffing O&M savings fully kick-in.

Posted by: Ben at December 17, 2009 8:53 AM | Reply

UK goes ahead (at the moment) with eLoran.

Research and Radionavigation
General Lighthouse Authorities of the United Kingdom and Ireland

The Case for eLoran

http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/Loran/geninfo/press8971_file_1_thecaseforeloran.pdf

and

Delivering 2020 - The Vision

http://www.trinityhouse.co.uk/media/press_releases/press14989_file_1__GLA_Radionavigation_Plan.PDF

Other eLoran relevant readings on

http://www.trinityhouse.co.uk/

Click on "News and Views"

Regards

Posted by: Roger B at December 17, 2009 10:36 AM | Reply

What are the odds of the Secretary countermanding the guy who hired him? Nil.
Loran is dead. That is the political reality. All political realities are bad, but final. Non-reversable.

Fears that GPS would be shut down in a time of crisis are groundless. We already know (from Notices to Mariners) that selective areas can be rendered inoperable by other means. There is no need to shut down the system, especially considering the consequences. There is a GPS reciever in so many cars, cell phones, boats airplanes, clocks and other applications varying from inane to deadly serious that flipping the switch is out of the question any more.

So GPS is not a potential single point failure. It is a constellation of points where only 4 are needed to stay in business.

GPS is not the end-all for navigation. Who's to say there won't be something else even better in a few years that's more reliable and cost effective? Come on Guys, we are all futurists to one degree or another (except for those still clinging to their astrolabes, chip logs and rutters!)

Posted by: Sandy Daugherty at December 17, 2009 12:10 PM | Reply

Anyone who thinks it would take a major war to bring down GPS, or that it can't be effectively jammed or spoofed over small or large areas (i.e. made to totally fail) really ought to read about the system's vulnerability. CrossRate has some links:

http://www.crossrate.com/loran-status/gps-vulnerability-articles

Posted by: Ben at December 17, 2009 1:18 PM | Reply

The case for having a terrestrial backup to GNSS position determination is inescapable, and undeniable, certainly to anyone who has sailed anything other than a desk.

It is increasingly better understood by policymakers, at least within the marine community; but this is a matter of education, awareness-raising and simply 'rattling the cages' of those who hold positions of authority and should know better.

I counsel writing to Secretary Napolitano, and reminding her that just because President Obama may have been misinformed by his advisers, this is no reason why she should be ignorant of the real situation.

Secretary Napilotano is not contactable by email (not for the general public, anyhow), but her fax number at the DHS is: 001 202 282 8401.

If you feel strongly about this - do something about it.

Posted by: Rob Buttress at December 17, 2009 1:27 PM | Reply

Ben,

Because you asked. No I am not confident that GPS will be available 100% of the time. I was a navigator well before Loran C and GPS. I no longer do blue water, but I have plenty of tools for piloting in coastal waters without GPS.

I don't have two wives, though the thought.. Never mind I digress.

Pat

Posted by: Patrick Harman at December 17, 2009 3:16 PM | Reply

Really, GPS is just fine? Hmm, maybe before you make comments like this you should research the topic a bit. Maybe try typing this into Google "GPS Satellite Problems".

If everything is OK why would we see statements like this "A report from the Government Accountability Office made to Congress at the end of April says the U.S. Air Force is rushing to upgrade the complex system, but may not be able to prevent service problems."

or this?

" warnings are clear and dire � if the Air Force can�t buy and put up new satellites in time, some military operations and some civilian users could be adversely affected."

OK, so GPS has problems what are the alternatives? I agree it would be cool if there was a satellite based alternative system, but what are they? Glonass, Galileo? Glonass is only partially completed; Galileo will be available in 2013 if funding continues. So if not space based, what's left? Looks to me like Loran is a good alternative. It's there, and it works.

I do not know why people are surprised the Federal Government would make a bad decision on something like this, they make really bad, and often politically motivated decisions all the time.

We will never know why this decision was made, maybe it's so there's no alternative to funding fixes to the new GPS satellites. They're $807 million over budget already, ah, but who cares about that.

Dig a little deeper and you'll find the Air force changed contractors for the GSP satellites, significantly reduced the number of satellites they were going to purchase, and there have been big delays (three years) I�m sure there are interesting and real reasons for the problems, overall it�s clear the whole thing has been badly managed. Heads should roll, but they never do. The solution is always the same, �send more tax dollars and we�ll fix it up real good!� Oh, OK. That�s how it works, so that�s what we do.

Just pray that the smart people who are trying to fix the problems prevail of the stupid people who created them.

Posted by: SeaBlazer at December 17, 2009 4:02 PM | Reply

Pat:
GPS has been a victim of its own success - so many people and systems now rely on it without even thinking that it scares the sh*t out of me at times. GPS can go horribly wrong for sooooo many reasons, the LEAST likely being a major armed conflict. Take a look around the UK's MCGA web site at the GPS interferance trials that they run , it really is scary stuff. Granted, we should all be cross checking our GPS positions against visula / radar etc... but I bet very few do these days. So, the UK and it's neighbors are implementing eLoran for VERY good reasons - any space based system is just too vulnerable to be relied on as a 100% available safety system.

Posted by: del at December 17, 2009 4:09 PM | Reply

Rats. I wrote a letter to Secretary Napolitano and tried to fax it to the number Rob left above, but it's not answering. I just called the DHS "citizen line" operator and he confirmed the fax # as 202-282-8401, but then said it might be discontinued.

Posted by: Ben at December 17, 2009 5:38 PM | Reply

No cellular system in the US will work without GPS it is used for simulcast timing needed in today's digital world of communications. Some systems will free-wheel for a short period of time most will become stand alone island sites. I thought that these would be a great sale for communications systems requiring timing if the GPS system were to be compromised. I had plans to work with a US cell carrier to test these units as a backup for E-911, location based services and plain old timing currently a huge use in the cellular industry. Almost all current public safety 800MhZ systems also use GPS receivers for timing ask Motorola, Nokia or Ericsson. Anyone who thinks a few well placed portable high power wide band noise generators (in the GPS band)properly placed wouldn't take out the GPS system is fooling themselves. There have been government tests proving this.
Bill Lentz

Posted by: Bill Lentz at December 17, 2009 10:06 PM | Reply

Roger hit the nail on the head. The UK government considers eLoran as being a vital backup system. By law the UK government needs to provide and control a UK coastal navigation system.

I like to hear if anyone is considering the European "GPS" system (Galileo) as a backup? Do we know if any current GPS units are compliant already?

Posted by: Owen S at December 18, 2009 9:30 AM | Reply

I don't consider any other GPS system near as good a backup for our GPS system as eLoran. More sat's are not as good as an entirely different delivery system like eLoran offers. And the price is right too.

Posted by: Dan Corcoran (b393capt) at December 18, 2009 1:44 PM | Reply

Hello,

I think that eLoran is a waste of money and time.

For those of you who state that the cost of implementing eLoran is the same as mothballing the current Loran stations, what about next year, and the year after and the year after and .... Shut it down now and put the money towards better use.

For those of you who argue that it is a good back up to GPS. I agree with you. BUT, do you have a funtional Loran unit on your vessel? If not, how is the backup to GPS going to help you?

If GPS goes down we'll have to find out where we are with a compass, chart, binoculars and maybe a sextant.

Barry

Posted by: Barry Lenoble at December 18, 2009 3:08 PM | Reply

Barry, the USCG started talking about decommissioning Loran in 1994, which -- along with the advent of cheaper and better GPS -- pretty much spelled the end of Loran manufacturing and use.

But the idea of updating Loran so it could be seamlessly integrate with, and backup, GPS has been around for a long time, and has slowly gained serious traction with the sort of people who have really studied the vulnerabilities of GPS and the consequences of intentional or unintentional outages.

You having to navigate a bit with chart and compass is not actually one of the major consequences.

Here's some background information on GPS vulnerability and eLoran I wrote in 2002:

http://www.powerandmotoryacht.com/electronics/0402Electronics/

One of the interesting things I learned then was that the famous Volpe Report -- which said in no uncertain terms that it was dangerous for us to rely on a single form of electronic PNT (which GPS, even in multiple constellations, actually is) -- came out the day before 9/11. That's one reason that I thought the U.S. would never be dumb enough to do what we seem to be about to do.

If Secretary Napolitano really serves President Obama well, she will negate the misguided idea of killing Loran to save a few million dollars, and thus possibly save the President some serious future embarrassment.

Should that happen, and once the electronics manufacturers are confident that eLoran is for real, there will be all sorts of affordable eLoran receivers on the market and in use.

Posted by: Ben at December 18, 2009 5:35 PM | Reply

Two phrases to be careful about: "waste of money" and "save money". The USCG could save money from their budget, either by shutting it down or transferring the responsibility. But the government as a whole saving money? No way. The money "saved" will just be spent elsewhere, or depending on your point of view wasted elsewhere. eLoran is important, therefore it is not a waste of money. Saying it is a waste is subjective. eLoran should be transferred to the GPS budget. The people who manage the GPS system would appreciate its value and it would just be a drop in the bucket to them. Loran will never survive if it is seen as only being useful to boaters. GPS wouldn't even survive if it was only valuable to boaters.

Posted by: norse at December 18, 2009 8:16 PM | Reply

I have a way to monitize this, and I can get the operational costs under ten million. If anyone has some free cash flow to pursue this we can take it private :-)

Posted by: Dan Corcoran (b393capt) at December 19, 2009 9:46 AM | Reply

Two points arguing both sides:

1 Galileo, the Euro version of GPS, is a viable back-up. It is an independently designed and operated system. Receivers are now available that support both GPS and Galileo. We have worked on one such high end product from IstarGPS.

2 Satellites are far away and hard to work on. In the early days of GPS, conventional wisdom was that a ground based system was a good idea to supplant GPS if needed (an engineer can drive to and work on a ground based system).

Posted by: ems at December 19, 2009 10:20 AM | Reply

I think it's great that Galileo is happening (and weird that the U.S. was apparently unsupportive), but my understanding is that Galileo is only a partial back up to GPS. The IAT (PDF above) rejected it as a sufficient back-up mainly because the signals are not diverse enough. It's also noteworthy that many of the European authorities that support Galileo also support eLoran.

Posted by: Ben at December 19, 2009 10:53 AM | Reply

"In 2002, the European Union decided to pursue Galileo, an independent satellite navigation system.
While the Galileo signals could further improve how robust satellite navigation is to unintentional
interference, they would not mitigate intentional interference, as their power levels and operating
frequencies are very similar to GPS. While 30 more satellites will improve availability for navigation,
intentional interference still remains an obstacle to overcome."

http://www.loran.org/news/GPS-Backup-Released.pdf

Posted by: Ben at December 19, 2009 12:32 PM | Reply

Ben,
I've enjoyed reading this latest post and your earlier ones on eLORAN. Besides you, several of the commentors here also seem well-informed.

In my laboratory at UT Austin we're conducting research on GPS spoofing and jamming. We recognize eLORAN as a vital backup to GPS and have developed a device to expedite its adoption. You can read about it here:

http://www.gpsworld.com/gnss-system/news/new-backward-compatible-technique-develop-gpseloran-user-base-9185

Basically, our Assimilator fuses GPS and eLORAN signals into GPS signals that are backward-compatible with existing GPS equipment. This device will facilitate adoption of LORAN and thus counter Barry's point that most vessels can't use it.

Posted by: Todd Humphreys at December 19, 2009 1:07 PM | Reply

I understand that Secretary Napolitano has not yet made her decision on Loran, and that we can email comments to her via her administrative assistant:

Caroline.Simmons@dhs.gov

Posted by: Ben at December 28, 2009 12:32 PM | Reply

Adding to Todd Humphreys' comments: I've seen how easy it is to spoof GPS signals - I can't comment on exactly what I've seen due to its sensitive nature, but it's scary enough that the Air Force is working on a fix to prevent it, but it will probably be years before its fully tested.

Perhaps Todd is not under non-disclosure and can freely talk about his testing. I'd like to see how it compares to what I've seen. While enemies can't yet easily take down the military GPS system, the unencrypted civilian version can be mucked with. Hence the need for a backup...

Posted by: Anonymous at December 29, 2009 10:30 AM | Reply

Loran is going away. Get used to it.
GPS is used in the US and there is no longer a need for Loran which was designed to be a coastal navigation system.

The CG is not in the GPS back-up business. No one in government is willing to step forward and say, "I have a need for eLoran." To do so also requires a check book with money in it.

The only place you can get a Loran receiver now is on eBay...along with Beta tapes.

Loran-C ya!

Posted by: Peter at December 31, 2009 7:36 PM | Reply

Well, Peter, I will be on the bridge tomorrow morning monitoring my Micrologic 8000 Loran C for the final shut down. Speaking of eBay, I have three working backups.

Posted by: Capt. hank at January 3, 2010 3:42 PM | Reply

Re: GPS vulnerability and AirForce budget:
Can you say "Washington Monument Ploy"?

Its never been a question of the practicality or objective rationality of this system: Its demise is a political statement "Look how we are saving money!" and a wise reporter won't try to squeeze in a "Yes, but" at that press conference. All the post-partum screaming and moaning we can muster will be wasted breath. Politics trumps reality.

Posted by: Sandy Daugherty at January 3, 2010 5:11 PM | Reply

Peter, I am surprised, how can you write that! I thought our host provided a great financial argument in favor of keeping loran.

We need a backup to GPS, and not just another sat or an "improved" jam proof signal in the future. As a nation we have become very dependent on this timing infrastructure enabled by GPS and seperate technology based backup, and eloran fits the bill and at the right price, plus it's a solution that is being adopted world wide.

While we all turn off our chartplotters at the end of the day, GPS receivers around the country run 365x24x7 keeping a 60Hz heartbeat in sync for our electricity, and a far faster heartbeat in sync to pass voice and data packets into wireless spectrum at 1000's of frequencies over our head.

Get to the beat, and support loran my man.

Posted by: Dan Corcoran (b393capt) at January 3, 2010 9:05 PM | Reply

Geez, it was a little rough on the Atlantic this Christmas holiday from NY to Bahamas�. Glad I was on a cruise ship rather than a sailboat, and finished up before this Canadian cold air front descended on us.

Did anyone miss my comments?

So what happens next? Is loran iced as well as my driveway at the start of this new year? Perhaps:

(1) Janet signs the document to kill loran without further consideration of the technical merits, if for no other reason than the Obama administration is just tired of hearing �excuses� why each of their savings initiatives is a bad idea (case in point the cargo aircraft the air force does not want that Obama can�t kill because representatives in 41 US states benefit with jobs each time that aircraft is ordered)

(2) Does this get delayed or overturn on it's technical merits (go Ben !)

(3) Her decision gets delayed given the underwear bomber issues (probably not, she is an accomplished state governor and can surely multitask)

(4) Does Janet get thrown under the bus by the Obama administration, her position goes vacant for an extended period of time, and loran continues?

Posted by: Dan Corcoran (b393capt) at January 3, 2010 9:15 PM | Reply

At the very least, they should mothball them instead of decommissioning them. Then in a few years when the sun gets active again and they get worried about solar flares taking out satellites, they can start Loran up again.

Posted by: norse at January 4, 2010 12:00 AM | Reply

Well, we are well into 4 Jan 2010 and I have seen no indications LORAN is off the air.

If you go over to NAVCEN, the big news still is they have changed their mailing address. One would think a NTM would have been issued for something as monumental as the LORAN shutdown. Except for an ALLCOAST to USCG personnel, the USCG has be silent.

The Commandant has certified LORAN isn't required for safe navigation. Where can we read his statement and rationale?

The handling of this matter with respect to the mariners and the interested segment of the public has been deplorable.

--- CHAS

Posted by: CaptChas at January 4, 2010 6:38 PM | Reply

Just received this invite from the Royal Institute of Navigation in the UK - looks interesting - maybe someone should forward it to the Senator?

1.2 GPS Jamming & Interference - A Clear and Present Danger
Date: 23 February 2010
Location: National Physical Laboratory, Teddington, Middlesex
A one-day conference being organised by the Digital Systems KTN, Location &
Timing Programme, in partnership with the Royal Institute of Navigation.
This conference will bring together experts from all aspects of the PNT community to debate important aspects of GPS vulnerabilities including intentional and unintentional jamming, natural and man-made interference and other issues which might impact users and applications which leverage PNT technology.
Reduced delegate rate available for Digital Systems KTN and RIN Members. For further information visit the News and Events pages of the RIN website,
www.rin.org.uk [ http://www.rin.org.uk ], where links are available for you to
download the registration form or link through to the online registration
facility on the NPL store.

Posted by: del at January 5, 2010 3:37 AM | Reply

A notice of LORAN termination has been issued.

USCG Publishes Loran-C Termination; DHS Says Not Needed for GPS Backup

http://www.insidegnss.com/node/1806

Posted by: CaptChas at January 7, 2010 12:57 PM | Reply

Posted by: Ben at January 7, 2010 1:14 PM | Reply

Loran was designed to be coastal maritime aid. It was never designed to be a backup to GPS.

eLoran has many benefits as a backup but no one in the government wants it. No agency stepped forward and said, "We have a requirement for eLoran." If they did, they would have had to bring a checkbook with them.

The USCG is not, and never has been, in the GPS backup business.

Loran is a dog past it's day. Get over it.

Peter

Posted by: Peter at January 19, 2010 1:09 PM | Reply

I think you have the politics about right, Peter. Even though the dozen experts of the IAT (see above) and many others were adamant about the need for eLoran as a backup to GPS, and hence the need to keep those Loran bases open, no government entity picked up the ball (which the USCG wanted so badly to drop).

Frankly it's one of the dumbest decisions I've ever seen my government make, and I've seen quite a few!

But I truly hope that people with that blase "get over it" attitude don't have to eat their words because a GPS outage wreaks havoc in the USA.

Posted by: Ben at January 19, 2010 8:13 PM | Reply

Hopefully when it wreaks havoc it will be first on a small scale, and then I imagine a few billion dollars will be spent rushing something thru deployment rather than spending almost nothing now on eLoran and having only the receivers to replace which at the moment some motivation to do so already exists without terrorist attack.

GPS is already heavily used on land for timing in telecommunications and energy. I am at a carrier today where the timing signal went out of sync on a router effectively disconnecting 73 T1's (73 x 1.5 megabit) worth of voice and data traffic, despite the T1's having diverse routes to four different sister routers. Without the timing being spot on, the router couldn't understand the data from it's peers. Repair time is still hours away. The result is some town somewhere can't make or receive telephone calls (except in town), run their businesses on the world internet for an entire afternoon and evening, no cell phone service, no skype, nor the ability to read Ben's posts on Panbo. Nothing ... the town couldn't even call in a trouble to the carrier in the first 90 minutes of the outage (and I don't know how long after that), they are disconnected from the world till later tonight.

Imagine this happening on a larger scale?

eLoran wouldn't only be a good backup, it might be a better primary. eLoran receivers probably work a hell of a lot better under snow, overgrown wild life, under a lazy animal, or animal nest, then a GPS receiver.

Posted by: Dan Corcoran (b393capt) at January 19, 2010 9:06 PM | Reply

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