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    Re: CELNAV .pdf file
    From: Frank Reed CT
    Date: 2003 Dec 29, 16:45 EST
    Jared Sherman wrote:
    "But consider that your audience there were not civilians, as most of us are here. As a civilian my feeling is that when and if the GPS system is knocked off the air and my little GPS is no longer of use, I will have bigger worries than "precisely where am I?" "

    I think I know what you mean. Any scenario bad enough to wipe out the GPS system is presumably very bad indeed. I can think of a couple of exceptions which may be relevant for a few more decades. Just one: what happens if there is a subtle internal software flaw in all of the orbiting satellites on the US GPS system? Maybe something that knocks them all offline for a week or two while the problem is analyzed and then repaired. The chances of this happening are remote, but it's one non-apocalyptic scenario where a cel nav savvy navigator will suddenly become valuable.

    "Your audience were the officer core of the USCG, which is a legal paramilitary organization. In time of war their mission is to defend the coasts of the United States, and that means very precisely that at any time the GPS system may be attacked and destroyed--they will be required to go to sea, to go to war, and to navigate with the greatest possible precision in the worst of conditions."

    What's the best alternative, with the "greatest possible precision", if GPS does fail?

    "Then I would suggest the Commandant of the USCG needs to review who is at the Academy, and how the hell they managed to get in there."

    Aw, don't worry about that. Remember, no matter what they think, they're not taking electives. They'll follow orders.

    "Air sea rescue and drug interdiction and pollution control are all well and good, but the USCG becomes a full military arm during time of war."

    They're more important now than ever. So how much time should they spend on HO229 when there are direct terrorist threats to US ports? It's not necessarily a simple situation. Celestial navigation with paper tables is a very specific form of insurance against a very specific --and low probability-- event. What is a reasonable price for that insurance?

    "Or perhaps, you could simply remind them that the USNA 44's still carry Cassens & Plath sextants, and embarass them with the prospect that "real sailors" might be able to beat them at something besides football"

    <Snicker>. As I understand it, the US Naval Academy is now using electronic calculators for sight reduction. Do you think that's a useful back-up solution?

    These days, the US Navy knows the location of nearly every vessel at sea. The (classified) NOSS satellites are widely believed to track and triangulate the positions of all ships at sea by listening to radio noise from every target. This information can be downloaded from the satellites by anyone who has the access codes. Since that data stream includes the position of one's own ship in addition to the positions of all other ships, hostile and friendly, I would bet that many naval officers consider those satellites even more valuable than the GPS system.

    Frank E. Reed
    [X] Mystic, Connecticut
    [ ] Chicago, Illinois

    Frank E. Reed
    [X] Mystic, Connecticut
    [ ] Chicago, Illinois
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