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Old 07-01-2010, 13:59   #1
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Goodbye, Loran

Effective 2000Z 08 FEB 2010 the USCG will terminate the US Loran-C signal. This won't effect the US participation in the Canadian and Russian joint Loran programs since they are governed by international agreements and those joint signals will continue at least temporarily.

Paul Blais
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Old 07-01-2010, 18:23   #2
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I think it's been planned for quite some time.

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Old 07-01-2010, 18:49   #3
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Whats the big deal??

Nobody that I know has used it for years.......And why would they, with the accuracy, ease of use, convenience, universality and affordabiltiy of GPS???
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Old 07-01-2010, 19:02   #4
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The shipping company i work for threw out their Loran sets years ago, it's got to be at least ten years since i worked on a ship that had one...
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Old 07-01-2010, 19:13   #5
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FSMike is totally correct. Loran has been on life support for years with a very few users wanting to keep it running.

The only reason I know of for keeping Loran was from fisherman who had old catalogs of Loran fixes for fishing holes. Converting to Loran numbers to GPS lat/lon is not usually accurate enough to put you right back on top of the hole.

Seems like a lot of tax dollars for very small return.
The water is always bluer on the other side of the ocean.
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Old 07-01-2010, 22:11   #6
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Yes, of course GPS can never fail... and if it does, anyone who is at sea at the time will know how to use their sextant they carry... right?
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Old 08-01-2010, 06:06   #7
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Originally Posted by s/v 'Faith'
Yes, of course GPS can never fail...
Obviously GPS can fail, just like Loran could fail. The real point is that the Loran system was very expensive to maintain. With GPS there is a large upfront expense to launch the satellite and then little ongoing expense. With Loran the upfront expense was considerably less, but there was substantial maintenance cost year after year.

All that money--our tax money!--was being spent to support very, very few users. Was that a smart way for the government to be spending our money? I would argue that it was not. The essence of government is determining how to spend limited public resources to derive the greatest public good.

Having some backup to the GPS system would be good. Of course, such backup systems do exist. You can still get an RDF and fix a position based on AM radio stations. This gives coverage almost as far out as Loran did. There's always good, old dead-reckoning. Or, as you observed, there is still celestial navigation.

The fact that a lot of people are not proficient with a sextant is not--to me, at least--a very persuasive argument for the government to continue spending boatloads of money on a system that almost no one uses. I'd be willing to bet that the number of Loran users out there was beginning to approach the number of sextant users!
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Old 08-01-2010, 06:31   #8
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Had a Loran C outfit aboard when I bought the boat. Turned it on once or twice, saw that it worked, and turned it off again.

This fall I took it off the boat. Was in the way and I never used it.

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Old 08-01-2010, 08:04   #9
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I question the wisdom of this insofar as this year GPS satellites are reportedly going to start falling out of the sky. This is a bit of information that has been provided to professionals in the business such as aviation companies and pilots, not to mention seagoing concerns, but the info has been really soft peddled.

I have a friend (yes I do have friends) that owns a private charter airline business. He told me about this as I outlined above. He said the government was trying to keep it kindda quite but that GPS was going to not be up to the standard we have grown accustomed to. They do not have the satellites built to send up as replacements. Seems Air Force funds were redirected some time between 2004 and 2008. The coming problem was brought to light to the current powers that the satellite builders are now working overtime to get the replacements built. Messes do not get cleaned up overnight, I have a keen eye for the obvious and noticed we have many examples of that today.

Here are some links confirming what I have just said.

GPS at Risk: Doomsday 2010 | GPS World

U.S. GAO - Global Positioning System: Significant Challenges in Sustaining and Upgrading Widely Used Capabilities

There are more you can google.

Hopefully this will mean at worst we will be no more than 100 yards off on our chart plotters. Either way, best keep these facts in mind. The good part of this if there is any I guess I can get the loran c off my fly bridge and send it on to a museum.
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Old 08-01-2010, 08:16   #10
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Well, if GPS ever goes down some sailors may have to learn how to navigate.

Life begins where land ends.
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Old 08-01-2010, 09:30   #11
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Originally Posted by David M View Post
Well, if GPS ever goes down some sailors may have to learn how to navigate.
So are campers Seriously, it's not going to fail.


The sea is always beautiful, sometimes mysterious and, on occasions, frighteningly powerful.
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Old 13-01-2010, 10:38   #12
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I appologize for my first post not being a cordial introduction- I'll work on putting one of those out soon. When I'm not out sailing on my off time, I'm a Coast Guard helicopter pilot (and a CG Public Affairs guy when I'm not flying). The following is a recent press release that the CG sent out regarding LORAN. If there are any questions regarding the termination of the LORAN-C signal, I'll do my best to answer them.

-Jeff Daigle
S/V Prerequisite

PORTSMOUTH, Va. - The Coast Guard Long Range Aids to Navigation-C signal station in
Carolina Beach, N.C., is scheduled to stop transmitting after Feb. 8.
As a result of technological advancements during the last 20 years and the emergence of the U.S.
Global Positioning System, Loran-C is no longer required by the armed forces, the transportation
sector or the nation's security interests, and is used by only a small segment of the population.
President Barack Obama's fiscal year 2010 budget supported the termination of outdated systems and
specifically cited the terrestrial-based North American Loran-C system as such an example. The
president did not seek funding for the Loran-C system in fiscal year 2010. Termination was also
supported through the enactment of the 2010 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill.
The decision to terminate transmission of the Loran-C signal reflects the president's pledge to
eliminate unnecessary federal programs.
The notice may be viewed online at, docket number: USCG-2009-0299. For
more information on terminations, reductions and savings contained in the fiscal year 2010 budget,

including Loran-C, visit

Moderators note: Changed text back to a readable size.
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Old 13-01-2010, 10:51   #13
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Loran C. Bacall, Wasn't she Humphry Bogarts girl?
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Old 13-01-2010, 12:32   #14
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Primary navigation system GPS
Secondary navigation system Any old AM set and an iron frying pan for null
so many projects--so little time !!
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Old 13-01-2010, 12:41   #15
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Penny Wise Pound Foolish

The marine and aviation communities’ dependence on GPS as the sole source of navigational data is a disaster waiting to happen. Our Raynav LORAN gives us locational data that is consistently within 300' for the GPS positions provided by our two WAAS enabled Garmin's for the area between TampaBay and Key West. Last year, when the GPS Ground Controllers changed the timing algorithms for the satellite constellation at least half of the Garmin units wouldn't work properly until a firmware up-date was loaded. Of course, a firmware update was a bit of a problem for boats at sea but that had no effect on us as our old Raynav kept right on working. And, a few years ago when solar flares knocked out GPS sigals over much of the country, our Raynav kept righ on working, again.

Consider the following recently released by the CBO:

In late 2006, the Department of Transportation convened an Independent Assessment Team to determine the future of LORAN in cooperation with DHS, whose final report was released to the public this year as the result of a Freedom of Information Act request. It concluded that eLORAN, a fully modernized and upgraded version of LORAN-C, should serve as a long-term backup for GPS for positioning, navigation and timing for twenty years. On the basis of the report's findings, DHS announced in February 2008 that eLORAN would be the backup system for GPS, and the Coast Guard testified later that year that the existing, upgradable LORAN-C infrastructure was the logical support system for eLORAN. The immediate implementation of a long-term, robust backup system is vital, given the GAO's recent finding that it is unclear whether new GPS satellites can be purchased and put in orbit in time to maintain uninterrupted GPS service to private and public sector consumers.

Therefore, the Committee once again rejects termination of LORAN-C, denies the authority to sell existing LORAN-C sites as sought by the Administration, provides $36,000,000 for continuing operation and maintenance, and directs the Coast Guard to provide a plan to the Committee within 30 days of enactment of this Act for upgrading the existing LORAN-C system to eLORAN in a cost-efficient fashion that complies with existing international agreements.



…If offset by an estimated $146 million decommissioning cost of existing Loran infrastructure, eLoran could be established effectively for free.

Going forward, eLoran would require only the current $37 million per year in USCG operations and management base funds for Loran plus $20 million a year in new funds for five to eight years to complete all upgrades, new transmitters, and “jump start” deferred maintenance (i.e. perform maintenance services neglected during prior years).

After that time, savings from substantially reduced staffing at the modernized facilities will [nearly entirely] offset eLoran operational and sustainment costs.

In December 2006 the IAT unanimously recommended that for, at least the next 20 years, eLoran “be …retained as the national backup system for critical safety of life, national and economic security, and quality of life applications currently reliant on position, time, and/or frequency from GPS.”

Among the IAT’s key findings: “eLoran is the only cost-effective backup for national needs; it is completely interoperable with and independent of GPS, with different propagation and failure mechanisms, plus significantly superior robustness to radio frequency interference and jamming.”

As for the GAO’s Findings:

Global Positioning System: Significant Challenges in Sustaining and Upgrading Widely Used Capabilities
GAO-09-670T May 7, 2009


The Global Positioning System (GPS), which provides position, navigation, and timing data to users worldwide, has become essential to U.S. national security and a key tool in an expanding array of public service and commercial applications at home and abroad. …In light of the importance of GPS, …GAO was asked to undertake a broad review of GPS. Specifically, GAO assessed progress in (1) acquiring GPS satellites, (2) acquiring the ground control and user equipment necessary to leverage GPS satellite capabilities, and evaluated (3) coordination among federal agencies and other organizations to ensure GPS missions can be accomplished…

It is uncertain whether the Air Force will be able to acquire new satellites in time to maintain current GPS service without interruption. If not, some military operations and some civilian users could be adversely affected.

1. In recent years, the Air Force has struggled to successfully build GPS satellites within cost and schedule goals; it encountered significant technical problems that still threaten its delivery schedule; and it struggled with a different contractor. As a result, the current IIF satellite program has overrun its original cost estimate ($759 million) by about $870 million [i.e. by 115% for a total cost of $1.629 Billion!] and the launch of its first satellite has been delayed to November 2009--almost 3 years late [and still not yet launched.]

2. Further, while the Air Force is structuring the new GPS IIIA program to prevent mistakes made on the IIF program, the Air Force is aiming to deploy the next generation of GPS satellites 3 years faster than the IIF satellites. GAO's analysis found that this schedule is optimistic, given the program's late start, past trends in space acquisitions, and challenges facing the new contractor. Of particular concern is leadership for GPS acquisition, as GAO and other studies have found the lack of a single point of authority for space programs and frequent turnover in program managers have hampered requirements setting, funding stability, and resource allocation.

3. If the Air Force does not meet its schedule goals for development of GPS IIIA satellites, there will be an increased likelihood that in 2010, as old satellites begin to fail, the overall GPS constellation will fall below the number of satellites required to provide the level of GPS service that the U.S. government commits to. Such a gap in capability could have wide-ranging impacts on all GPS users, though there are measures the Air Force and others can take to plan for and minimize these impacts. In addition to risks facing the acquisition of new GPS satellites, the Air Force has not been fully successful in synchronizing the acquisition and development of the next generation of GPS satellites with the ground control and user equipment, thereby delaying the ability of military users to fully utilize new GPS satellite capabilities. [The cost of Annual Ground support Operations is currently estimated to exceed $270 Million per annum and is expected to more than triple with IIIA satellites!]

4. Diffuse leadership has been a contributing factor [to these failures], given that there is no single authority responsible for synchronizing all procurements and fielding related to GPS, and funding has been diverted from ground programs to pay for problems in the space segment. DOD and others involved in ensuring GPS can serve communities beyond the military have taken prudent steps to manage requirements and coordinate among the many organizations involved with GPS. However, GAO identified challenges in the areas of ensuring civilian requirements can be met and ensuring GPS compatibility with other new, potentially competing global space-based positioning, navigation, and timing systems.

In view of the foregoing, the discontinuation of eLORAN or simply the existing LORAN C operations to save $37 million a year when unreliable
GPS systems that cost $270 million a year to maintain--and are expected to cost upwards of $1 Billion per year--is a very foolish move.


"It is not so much for its beauty that the Sea makes a claim upon men's hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air, that emanation from the waves, that so wonderfully renews a weary spirit."
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loran, navigation, radio, uscg

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