10 thoughts on “Do ships today like LNG, Tankers, and containers still use Celestial Navigation?

  • April 12, 2020 at 5:01 am
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    Yes. For azimuths and checking compass accuracy. Also a pretty good way to verify where you are using sun lines.

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  • April 12, 2020 at 5:01 am
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    Yes, what the posters above said, also for maintenance of navigational skills as well as it is actually a requirement of oil majors and is frequently checked during SIRE and CDI vettings onboard. It is in our company bridge procedures to carry out celestial navigation calculations whenever there is an ocean passage. Since i work on coasters in EU we do it if we have at least 2-3 day voyage in Biscay, Medi and if the weather is good( no overcast or rough sea).

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  • April 12, 2020 at 5:01 am
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    It depends a bit on where the officers were trained. Everywhere teaches compass errors by celestial bearings (amplitudes and azimuths), but some countries have actually removed sextant work and celestial navigation from the curriculum.

    As a result, I’ve sailed with a number of otherwise competent deck officers who had never been taught sight reduction or how to use a sextant 🙁

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  • April 12, 2020 at 5:01 am
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    Even cruise ships use it too on ocean passages.
    Now if you actually go on-board a ship and look at the log book for compass errors and such… you’ll probably see a lot more “overcast” in that log book than in real life or in the navigational log book.

    What it’s all about is information. So anything that comes from an external source can be wrong before it gets to you. For GPS this can be your position. GPS spoofing is very real, also the possibility that GPS, Galileo and other GPS type systems can be shut down or shot down.
    Celestial navigation relies on your math ability/ability to take sights…. and weather.

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  • April 12, 2020 at 5:01 am
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    It is still done, yes. It was not taught in the early 2000’s at the USNA for example due to GPS being far better, but it’s back due to Russian GPS spoofing and there not really being a backup. However, I expect Astro Inertial systems to be put on ships at some point due to them being faster and more accurate than people, and work in the daylight. Considering it’s 50 year old military tech that commercial aircraft used to use as well, it’s a viable option for ships today. I expect the order of events to be 1. Something goes wrong with Gps somewhere 2. A ship runs aground 3. Someone thinks to put on an Astro inertial system on ships. However, realistically if GPS goes down, we’re all fucked because of how many things solely rely on it nowadays.

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  • April 12, 2020 at 5:01 am
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    Yup off to teach the future second mate right now… So tired, but it’s still fun to play with the stars:)

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  • April 12, 2020 at 5:01 am
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    It’s still part of the curriculum in the Finnish maritime academies, but due to budget cuts it doesn’t get much attention.

    I assume it depends a lot on the traffic area and ship, I don’t think it’s used in the Baltic sea for example, but I know that some car carriers use it in the Pacific.

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  • April 12, 2020 at 5:01 am
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    It’s a required subject for deck officers in the US. They’re tested on it.

    IRL? Probably not commonly used. But I’m an engineer so I can be very wrong

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  • April 12, 2020 at 5:01 am
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    Yup off to teach the future second mate right now… So tired, but it’s still fun to play with the stars:)

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  • April 12, 2020 at 5:01 am
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    I work as Chief officer on a Crude Oil Tanker, and the only times we use celestial navigation is when we have deck cadets onboard 😉

    Still, I feel it’s an important part of the profession as a navigator, as it gives a theoretical understanding of how the world works – Also for keeping traditions alive 🙂

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