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Old 04-04-2010, 13:07   #151
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I apologise to everyone for helping to take this thread down an irrelevant side path.
I also apologise to Hellosailor for engaging him in a largely immaterial debate.
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Old 04-04-2010, 21:35   #152
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As of now, Celestial Navigation (considered one of the toughest class) is no longer taught at US Naval Academy; The reason is simple, too much works (to get the position (fix) right, you would need four things to start out with : The Marine sextant, the current Nautical Almanac, The accurate time keeping (watch/clock), and the reduction table. Once you shoot a sight, there are about 20 calculations to perform before you are actually arrive at the result. And, the fix can and usually differ from actual position by 600 feet.
P/S: Royal Navy and US Merchant Marine as well as USCG are still required their cadets to pass this course.. The choice is yours, most of us do not have to take this class, if we don't want to.
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Old 04-04-2010, 23:32   #153
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How could celestial be considered one of the Naval Academy's toughest classes, whether or not it's taught? You are joking or trying to build an air of complexity to something fairly simple. It's not much different than going down a shopping list, granted for some that may be difficult.
The Academy is a great school, but as the young guys come out into the fleet they've been prepped well in leadership, management/administrative skills and are bright but they're still young beyond belief and usually learn how to work aboard a ship fairly quickly.
How knowledge of celestial plays into that is hard to say as they would never use it. It's not their job, the mid-level & sometimes senior quartermasters take care of that and the rest of determination of the ship's position and provide recommendations on how to get from present position to the next desired position.
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Old 05-04-2010, 13:46   #154
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How could celestial be considered one of the Naval Academy's toughest classes, whether or not it's taught? You are joking or trying to build an air of complexity to something fairly simple. It's not much different than going down a shopping list, granted for some that may be difficult.
The Academy is a great school, but as the young guys come out into the fleet they've been prepped well in leadership, management/administrative skills and are bright but they're still young beyond belief and usually learn how to work aboard a ship fairly quickly.
How knowledge of celestial plays into that is hard to say as they would never use it. It's not their job, the mid-level & sometimes senior quartermasters take care of that and the rest of determination of the ship's position and provide recommendations on how to get from present position to the next desired position.
Hi Randy,
Thank you for pointing that out. May be I should have said, " For some of all Maritime Academies' Cadets, Midshipmen, Celestial Navigation is one of their toughest class".
Best regards.
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Old 05-04-2010, 14:02   #155
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Gord-
No apology needed, but you're a gentlemen for offering one in any case.

Celestial at the USNA and other places: I suppose in today's context, celestial is to an officer's skills pretty much like saying "OK, if your Tomahawk cruise missile fails to launch because of a propellant leak, do you know how to convert common chemicals from your sick bay in order to refuel the missile?"

There's a case to be made for Too Much Information. Like asking an airline pilot to figure out how to build a 747 from scratch. He just ain't gonna need that skill, as much as he's going to need other ones. Someone else gets paid for building them.
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Old 10-04-2010, 23:52   #156
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If the Russians get behind something and really support it the system will work fine. The technology itself won't be flaky it will be the way it's implemented. It will be setup to support their military solely there is no reason for them to support it's use for civilians. Speaking of military how about the Kursk as an example of them being willing to support their state of the art technolgy.
So, the answer to my questions is "no, you don't have anything to back up your statements" (other than your opinion).

True, GLONASS is a military system, but so is GPS. If the US and Russians decide to go to war, both systems disappear. True, the Russian military has no reason to support civilian use, but neither does the US military. The similarities between US and Russian technology don't end there. You mention the Kursk disaster in August 2000 where a Russian sub was lost at sea, by your assertion, due to lack of support for their state of the art technology. You neglect to mention that the Kursk was lost nearly 10 years ago. The Russia of 10 years ago was strapped for cash and in turmoil resulting from transitioning from communism to democracy (at least as close as the Russians can get). The Russia of today is not the Russia of 10 years ago. The government is stable (at least as close as the Russians can get) and is certainly NOT strapped for cash. The Russian government is not in debt to its ear lobes like the US either.

It is also interesting to note that less than six months after the Kursk, the USS Greeneville, a state of the art, perfectly maintained submarine sank a Japanese fishing boat in February 2001 by surfacing beneath it during a training exercise (specifically, an "emergency blow"). The US collision occurred when our technology was operating perfectly and our government completely stable.

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There will be a period when human transport to the space station will be solely by the Russians, but not at present.
True, at the time of this writing, according to nasa.gov, there are three remaining shuttle launches, all bound for the ISS. After September 2010, if you want to go to the ISS, you had better brush up on your Russian and book tickets to Star City, because that's the only way to get you to the ISS. They might as well call it the RSS.

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I think you should feel free to use GLONASS, I'm saying it'll be undependable.
You still haven't explained why other than to say, "Well, it's Russian." Typically, I would agree for the same reason. This time, however, I can't buy that they spent billions to bring the system back (now that they have the money) just to have it be unreliable. They're not bringing the Lada back.
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Old 11-04-2010, 09:59   #157
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"I think you should feel free to use GLONASS, I'm saying it'll be undependable."

You make a good point, vacuum tubes DO have problems surviving the stresses of rocket launches. (VBG)
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Old 14-04-2010, 16:08   #158
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How knowledge of celestial plays into that is hard to say as they would never use it. It's not their job, the mid-level & sometimes senior quartermasters take care of that and the rest of determination of the ship's position and provide recommendations on how to get from present position to the next desired position.
Interesting. I have never understood why the USN delegates navigation functions to petty officers. It seems like a throwback to the old days of the Spanish and French navies, whose officers saw themselves as essentially waterborne soldiers and disdained seamanship functions.

That is certainly not the tradition, or practice, of the Royal Navy or its offspring. Navigation is a vital part of BWK training, and I remember how we used to roll our eyes at the Americans for using harbour pilots (which the Canadian Navy refuses to do unless legally required by local authorities).

Whatever works, I guess. To the best of my knowledge, the USN's record for groundings etc. is no worse than those of other navies. Different ships, different long splices.
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Old 14-04-2010, 18:01   #159
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arguing that celestial has a place becuase of some possible impropable event may shut down GPS is nonsense. Technology doesnt univent itself. If anything there will be in a couple of years multiple GNSS systems up there. Gallileo will be eventually delivered, as will the chineese systems. The Military use of GNSS is effectively a secondary function now, whole swathes of industry would cease to function without the technology.

Learn Celestial , like I did , becuase its fun, intersting and a connection with the past, rather like teh whole of sailing is. But at the end of the day its never going to come back to prominance and if anything will go the way of HAM radio. (ie a bunch of afficonados, like me).

Dave
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Old 06-06-2010, 17:45   #160
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sextants yea or nay

My $.02 worth.

Back in the dark ages before GPS, inertial nav systems, and other electronic wonders of the age, I navigated many thousands of miles/hours of trans-oceanic flight, at 600 kts or better, using only a sextant day and night and in ten years of flying world wide ALWAYS hit the required coastal ADIZ (look it up) within the mandated 20 mile wide, + or - 3 minute limit. Properly used a sextant on board a small ship will prove to be an invaluable AID to navigation. I will not venture off soundings without one, even with my 2 GPS systems working fine. Just bear in mind that even with excellent celestial AND electronic positioning, charts can be off, nothing beats a sharp eye forward.
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Old 06-06-2010, 19:16   #161
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Those of us who can use and carry a sextant are preaching to the converted in this thread. Those who doubt it's utility are probably not going to be converted. For what it's worth, since I started using GPS I've not felt the need to unpack my sextant.. I doubt I ever will. With three GPS units on boat power and two back up battery units I feel my backside is covered. If things ever get to the point where the GPS is shut down because of war, I think I can kiss by backside good bye anyway.
A question, has anyone been truly in danger because of a GPS unit failing, or because of system failure?

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Old 06-06-2010, 19:27   #162
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Good for you. I admire anyone willing to forego the path of least resistance and take the time and effort to learn what many consider to be an arcane and obsolete skill.Let us know how you get on.
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Old 06-06-2010, 21:43   #163
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My $.02 worth.

I will not venture off soundings without ...
You will be missing that artificial horizon and the reliable clear skies above an aircraft. Good luck with celestial on a small boat when you really need it.
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Old 06-06-2010, 22:44   #164
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My $.02 worth.

Back in the dark ages before GPS, inertial nav systems, and other electronic wonders of the age, I navigated many thousands of miles/hours of trans-oceanic flight, at 600 kts or better, using only a sextant day and night and in ten years of flying world wide ALWAYS hit the required coastal ADIZ (look it up) within the mandated 20 mile wide, + or - 3 minute limit. Properly used a sextant on board a small ship will prove to be an invaluable AID to navigation. I will not venture off soundings without one, even with my 2 GPS systems working fine. Just bear in mind that even with excellent celestial AND electronic positioning, charts can be off, nothing beats a sharp eye forward.
And what type of sextant did you use, I used to have a WW2 “bulb sextant” a wind up affair with paper ribbon, quiet fun to use.

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A question, has anyone been truly in danger because of a GPS unit failing, or because of system failure?
In danger not but annoyed yes and the second in command super annoyed, we carry two sextants and both of us can use them even if our eyes are not that flashes anymore.
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Old 25-06-2010, 05:04   #165
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Regarding alternatives to GPS, the Russian GLONASS system is pretty well operational now, with (from memory) 21 out of 26 satellites up there and working, and the remaining few scheduled for launch soon.
Galileo is further behind - the latest news is that they are planning on being operational by 2014, but this project has not been without its delays in the past.
Galileo is designed to be compatible with GPS, in as much as the protocols and signals for normal civilian users are largely the same, but it will need a new receiver.
GLONASS is quite different in operation, and GNSS chipset manufacturers have been avoiding supporting GLONASS because of the costs of effectively supporting 2 different GNSS systems, but demand from the satnav and mobile phone manufacturers means that we should be seeing dual GPS/GLONASS receivers soon.

The problem with all of these is that they have the same weaknesses and vulnerabilities. For coastal navigation, eLoran would have solved this, but it has been canned in the USA and Canada, and its future is not yet clear in Europe and other areas.

So for now if I'm planning on any ocean crossings I'd always have a sextant with me.

Tim
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