Over reliance on GPS poses dangers

The UK P&I Club is encouraging navigating officers to practice traditional methods of navigation, including celestial observation The UK P&I Club is encouraging navigating officers to practice traditional methods of navigation, including celestial observation BP

MAY 12, 2016 — Warning that vessels' over-reliance on GPS as a navigational tool may be a danger, the UK P&I Club is encouraging navigating officers to also practice traditional methods of navigation.

The club says that use of GPS as a means of position fixing is now commonplace and has made a significant contribution to the safety and accuracy of marine navigation. However, it warns, over-reliance on a single form of position fixing can become a danger in itself.

"Continuing reports of alleged jamming of GPS signals, as well as the potential for other sources of signal interference, is of widespread concern to governments and to the shipping industry as a whole," says the club. "This can cause particular problems for vessels which have come to rely exclusively on GPS for position fixing, and highlights the importance of vessels using the full range of navigational equipment available to them, as required by SOLAS and STCW regulations.

"Even with the continual introduction of new technology and regulations for ship management, there remains a steady flow of reports of ship groundings and collisions, with many of these incidents being attributed to basic errors of navigation by the ships involved. Aside from the disastrous loss of life and pollution, these incidents can prove to be extremely financially burdensome, both to the shipowners and to the wider shipping community, due to increased insurance premiums."

The UK P&I Club is encouraging navigating officers to practice traditional methods of navigation, including celestial observation and keeping a proper look-out, as a failure to do so is often mentioned in marine casualty reports.

Even with all the technological advances that have been made, says the club, the sea remains as hostile a place as it has ever been.

"As such, UK P&I believes that the safe navigation of a ship to its destination cannot yet be achieved purely with technological resources, and still requires the presence of experienced and properly trained people with traditional seafaring skills."

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