USCG Issues Safety Alert – GPS/GNSS, Trust But Verify

January 19, 2016

United States Coast Guard
Marine Safety Alert
19 January 2016                                                                               Safety Alert 01-16

Global Navigation Satellite Systems – Trust, But Verify
Report Disruptions Immediately

Do you know what equipment relies upon the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS) signal? How would you respond if you lost the signal? This past summer, multiple outbound vessels from a non-U.S. port suddenly lost GPS signal reception. The net effect was various alarms and a loss of GPS input to the ship’s surface search radar, gyro units and Electronic Chart Display & Information System (ECDIS), resulting in no GPS data for position fixing, radar over ground speed inputs, gyro speed input and loss of collision avoidance capabilities on the radar display. Fortunately, the vessels were able to safely continue their voyage using radar in heads up display, magnetic compass and terrestrial navigation. Approximately 6nm later, the vessels’ GPS units resumed operation. Although the vessels had back-up systems to allow a safe transit, the consequences could have been severe. These types of events highlight the potential detrimental impact to navigation caused by GPS interference or jamming and the importance in understanding how your vessel’s or facility’s equipment could be impacted by a loss of GPS signal.

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