Britain is deploying a back-up ship navigation system in the English Channel in order to tackle the growing risks of disruptions to vessel satellite devices and jamming by criminal gangs. The General Lighthouse Authorities of the United Kingdom and Ireland (GLA) launched a radio-based back-up system, called eLoran, to counter the jamming or signal loss of GPS devices. In order to have access to the backup system, ships will need to install receiver equipment.
"When a sat nav goes out, it matters a lot to have something secure to fall back on," David Last, special adviser to the GLA, said. "It (eLoran) is an almost perfect back-up."
You can imagine the chaos that would ensue if GPS systems were down. Ships would have difficulty navigating, not to mention the risk of running into other ships.
"There have been major incidents in which North Korea has jammed GPS in South Korea. The outcome is that they lost not just ship navigation, but it affected all of their mobile phone networks and their military systems. We do know terrorists have been arrested in the U.S. with GPS jamming equipment," Last said. "So GPS is very vulnerable."
It has already been deployed in the Dover area, including the Dover Strait waterway in the English Channel, through which carries an average of 500 ships daily. Dover is likely one of seven major areas that will be receiving the eLoran backup.
"We are picking up significant modes of jamming in the UK including in the Dover area," Last said.
Passenger line P&O Ferries have already installed the equipment on one of its vessels.
"Satellite navigation systems are vulnerable to degradation of signal strength, and our ships have also experienced occasional loss of signal," Simon Richardson (News - Alert), head of safety management at P&O Ferries, said.
"We see eLoran as the most effective solution to countering the problem."
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Edited by Brooke Neuman