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Euroship trialling eLoran as GPS backup

eLoran eLoran GLAs

Ship management company EuroShip is trialling eLoran technology on its ships operating off the coast of the UK, with a view to rolling it out across its entire fleet.

{mprestriction ids="1,2"}The system, which went live in October 2014, uses technology based on longwave radio signals which are 1 million times more powerful than GPS. During its initial trial, EuroShip plans to simulate GPS outages allowing the eLoran system to take over the provision of position, navigation and timing (PNT) data automatically.

“Mariners assume that GPS will always work and as such have become almost entirely reliant on GPS for position, navigation and timing data, to the extent that there are next to no options for navigating without it,” said Frank Davies, managing director at EuroShip.

“We are looking at eLoran as a preventative measure, to avoid our vessels being vulnerable to GPS outage. To have a backup such as eLoran would be a huge advantage as it wouldn’t disrupt the signal to the equipment at all, so we could just carry on safely. If the trials prove successful, and eLoran runs as we expect it to, we will consider rolling receivers out to our entire fleet of sixteen managed vessels as a safeguard.

Developed by the General Lighthouse Authorities (GLAs) of the UK and Ireland, eLoran is seen as a vital backup to GPS, which is susceptible to interference from various sources, including space weather and GPS jammers.

The UK is the first in the world to deploy this technology for shipping companies operating both passenger and cargo services, with rollout initially approved by the UK Department of Transport in 2013. Seven land-based monitoring stations, from Dover to Aberdeen, currently serve the east coast, and full operational capability covering all major UK ports is expected by 2019.

“Shipping lanes are becoming busier and more perilous than ever, whilst mariners are becoming increasingly reliant on one, fallible, source of PNT data,” said Martin Bransby, research and radionavigation manager at the GLAs of the UK and Ireland.

“This presents a significant risk to the safety and efficiency of vessels, particularly in congested areas like ports. eLoran reduces the vulnerability of vessels by ensuring the uninterrupted provision of position, navigation and timing data even when GPS is down. As a terrestrial system, eLoran signals are much stronger when received than GPS, making it exceptionally difficult to interrupt.”{/mprestriction}

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