Coast Guard terminates LORAN-C broadcast

CAPE MAY, N.J. - (L-R) Adm. Thad Allen, Jack Anastasia, and George Hamilton turn off switches on attenuator boxes to decrease the Long-Range Aids to Navigation (LORAN-C) signal at LORAN Support Unit Wildwood, Feb. 8, 2010. The Coast Guard terminated the LORAN-C signal at 19 of its 24 stations. (U.S. Coast Guard photo/Chief Warrant Officer Veronica Bandrowsky)

CAPE MAY, N.J. - (L-R) Adm. Thad Allen, Jack Anastasia and George Hamilton turn off switches on attenuator boxes to decrease the Long-Range Aids to Navigation (LORAN-C) signal at LORAN Support Unit Wildwood, Feb. 8, 2010. The Coast Guard terminated the LORAN-C signal at 19 of its 24 stations. (U.S. Coast Guard photo/Chief Warrant Officer Veronica Bandrowsky)

The show continued on despite record snowfall in the Washington, D.C., area over the weekend. Yesterday at 3 p.m., the Coast Guard Navigation Center in Alexandria, Va., coordinated the shutdown of the North American Long Range Navigation-C signal.

Click here and here to watch videos on YouTube of LORAN stations shutting down.

The shutdown of the signal concludes the broadcast of the U.S. domestic signal. Coast Guard LORAN stations Attu and Shoal Cove in Alaska and other stations, which are bound by bi-lateral agreements with Russia and Canada, will continue to broadcast their international signals. All the stations will continue to be maintained and manned as the closure of the facilities proceeds over the coming months.

The LORAN system began as a radio-based navigation system during World War II and provided the Allied forces with a reliable and accurate means of navigation at sea in any weather. As a result of its effectiveness, LORAN was expanded for aircraft and merchant use with Coast Guard broadcast stations being established throughout the world.

Due to technological advancements in the last 20 years, LORAN has become an antiquated system no longer required by the armed forces, the transportation sector or the nation’s security interests and is used only by a small percentage of the population. The decision to cease transmission of the LORAN-C signal reflects the president’s pledge to eliminate unnecessary federal programs.

The Loran-C system served the 48 continental states, their coastal areas, parts of Alaska and neighboring countries. Dedicated Coast Guard men and women have done an excellent job running and maintaining the Loran-C signal for 67 years, 8 months and 24 days. It is a service and mission of which the entire Coast Guard can be proud.

KODIAK, Alaska - (back row L-R) SK2 Jonathan Clary, MK1 Tim McGuyrt, ETC Thomas Sears, ET2 Mark Canchola, (front row L-R) ET3 Robert Perkins and ET3 Jeremy Berg pose for a photo after the termination of the Loran-C signal ceremony Feb. 8, 2010. LORAN station crews, including the six Alaska-based stations, turned off their domestic signal across the nation at 11 a.m. (3 p.m. EST) Monday. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Lally)

KODIAK, Alaska - (back row L-R) SK2 Jonathan Clary, MK1 Tim McGuyrt, ETC Thomas Sears, ET2 Mark Canchola, (front row L-R) ET3 Robert Perkins and ET3 Jeremy Berg pose for a photo after the termination of the Loran-C signal ceremony Feb. 8, 2010. LORAN station crews, including the six Alaska-based stations, turned off their domestic signal across the nation at 11 a.m. (3 p.m. EST) Monday. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Lally)

Notice of the termination of the signal was published in the Federal Register Jan. 7. The notice of intention to terminate the LORAN-C signal may be viewed online here, docket number: USCG-2009-0299. The Record of Decision and Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement may be viewed online under docket number: USCG-2007-28460.

More information on terminations, reductions and savings contained in the fiscal year 2010 budget, including LORAN-C, may be found here.

Comments

comments

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,


20 Responses

  1. Elmer Croan says:

    The is a really big mistake as everyone will see when the gross mismanagement of the Air farce of the GPS replacement program will leave the USA without a 7×24 PNT system.

  2. Elmer Croan says:

    Also can we expect more ignorance from the government like this spam protection program which asks a question regarding a math problem. The issue is the questions uses spells out the names of the numbers but expects you to answer with the numerical values??? I guess this is what kind of ignorance we can expect from a government that is turn off a redundant system because it believes that nothing can possibly cause GPS to fail when the past few years have many such examples.

  3. Greg Johnson says:

    GPS jamming devices are now readily available on the Internet – some as high power devices. It is only a matter of time before someone (criminal or terrorist) employs them on a wider scale than they are currently being used. When this happens, we will look back at February 8th as the day we became insecure. This was a shortsighted decision that saved only a few dollars.
    I also find it troubling that Loran is relegated to uselessness by referring to it as WWII technology — RADAR is also WWII technology!

  4. Tom Nolan, CDR USCG (Retired) says:

    It’s a sad day for Loran-C when we let politics overcome logic. When all studies point to eLoran as the only currently viable backup for GPS (the Europeans have figured that out) our government is on the road to “stupid”. Contractual funding for addition GPS Satellite production takes time. With 13 satellites beyond their design life, things look bleak! We are now entering a navigational satellite world where GLONASS, Galileo and Compass will dominate.

    Having been involved with Loran-C (and Loran-D)for many years, I am disappointed in our stupidity.

  5. John says:

    Tom,

    I’m surprised they didn;t invite you to the official shutting down ceremony for Loran C.

  6. clagan says:

    Grerg,

    There’s been a lot of commentary onthe blog regarding the need for a back-up system for GPS and the role that many of you feel Loran-C played as that back-up. For the purpose of clarification, Loran-C was never intended to be used as a back-up for GPS. The reality is that the Department of Homeland Security is currently working with other federal agencies to determine the best way to ensure the U.S. government does not become critically dependent upon a single system for positioning, navigation and timing. Loran-C is not being considered as part of that plan and the decision to terminate the active operation of the system was not part of that determination process.

    Respectfully,
    Christopher Lagan
    United States Coast Guard
    Public Affairs

  7. Mike Sollosi says:

    Dear CDR Nolan,

    Thank you for your comment on CG Compass.

    GPS remains a solid program with the largest number of healthy satellites and the best overall constellation performance ever seen. The U.S. Air Force has extremely high confidence that GPS will remain healthy for the foreseeable future.

    The awareness that GPS can be jammed has led the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to consider alternatives for providing positioning, navigation and timing services in the event of a GPS outage. DHS is considering various potential backups to GPS for use by transportation modes and elements of the nation’s critical infrastructure. At the same time they’re considering the degree of risk in terms of whether the probability and consequences of a domestic GPS outage are such that the considerable cost of a backup system is justified.

    The continuation of Loran-C is not necessary to advance this analysis, nor is it economically rational given the very small pool of users.

    Regards,
    Mike Sollosi
    Navigation System Division

  8. Lyle Noordhoek says:

    Well now (2-27-2010) I know why my IFR certified Loran is not working in our Cessna 182. I just GOOGLED “Loran Terminated” and here we are.

    We made a choice in the early 1980s between LORAN and GPS. Given the weak signal levels and the ease of jamming GPS we were amazed both then and now that there have not been more problems. As we have had both systems in the aircraft for the last 5 years I can state that GPS has many loss of signal events that we never saw with the Loran.

    Thanks also for the complete lack of advanced notice to aviation users. Jan 7 to Feb 9. WOW bet there were no comments from much of anyone. AOPA did not even see fit to e-mail the membership.

    I am also aware that there is a big push to remove most of the VOR stations from operation. Anyone who regularly crosses the Inter Mountain West knows why you need 2 operational sources for cross checking of errors from any one source of navigation information.

    Looks like we are going to “advance” back to estimated groundspeed, last known position, a magnetic compass, and a stop watch.

    Best of Luck,
    Lyle Noordhoek
    Thin Air Inc
    Hays Kansas.

  9. Walter Roberts says:

    I agree with Mr. Noordhoek. I also fly a Loran and GPS equipped Cessna C182. I have had the same experience with signal reliability and integrity.

    My Loran receiver has never missed a beat. I wish I could say the same for the GPS unit.

    The Loran system has been the one bright and shining star as the USCG has been largely swallowed up by the DHS which, what I can see, DHS has done little else well.

    The shutdown of the LORAN system rendering us without backup to GPS as well as the current trend to shut down VORs and NDBs producing scant savings at a cost of potentially serious loss of reliable redundancy.

    If there were to be cost savings required of the DHS, perhaps it would be more advisable to reign in the TSA spending habits which have produced billions in useless technology while completely missing its primary missions.

  10. The Coast Guard Compass | VIDEO: Demolition of America’s largest LORAN tower says:

    Range Aids to Navigation tower. The tower stopped transmitting its signal on February 8, 2010 when LORAN-C was taken offline and was deteriorating to the point of posing a risk of an uncontrolled

  11. George Gould says:

    I was flying along in a Beech Bonanza with the autopilot coupled to the IFR Certified LORAN receiver and all of a suddenthe auto pilot just quit. After I landed flight service tells me the LORAN is turned off. This is the first I heard about it. No notice from the FAA . Great thing for n flight safety.There are 100,000 of these units in aircraft. Now what? Do I get a stimulis package to fix the aircraft?

  12. George Gould says:

    Do you agree the decision to shut down the Loran system was pretty lame? The auto pilot in my aircraft just quit in flight . Its coupled to the Loran. None of the pilots that have this system installed was notified by HS or the FAA. Consider this A single F-22 costs $350 million including developmental and other costs. One F-35, on the other hand, might cost only $200 million. The $150 million savings per aircraft gets attention. I am not disagreeing with those in the Department of Defense who opted to dump the F-22. I’m using it only as an example of cost comparison. For the savings on one aircraft, we could operate the entire LORAN-C system for more than four years. But the Department of Homeland Security has ordered the Coast Guard to shut down all LORAN stations February 8, 2010
    So what? Doesn’t the Global Positioning System (GPS) do the same thing and better? It guides unmanned aerial vehicles, tells troops and their supporting arms exactly where they are, synchronizes time and cell-phone antenna, navigates ships. Sure it does, unless it fails, or an enemy disables it. Then what would we do? A good answer is to keep a backup LORAN system, and even upgrade it to the enhanced version, e LORAN, which had been planned.

    Some might say that disabling the satellite system that empowers the GPS is unlikely because even terrorists won’t be blowing a satellite out of the sky. Might be, but it’s relatively easy to cripple the GPS without shooting down a satellite because a space system has two other vital segments — the up-and-down links and the ground station. The links can be neutralized by electronic assault, and the ground station is vulnerable to a variety of stoppages, including mundane factors like power outages and even simple human error. The solution of course is to have a backup system in order to prevent the chaos of a disabled GPS — a chaos that could cause a crash of the financial system — a chaos that would make the annual $36 million cost of operating LORAN look like peanuts.

    Another dollar comparison is in order. The estimated cost to upgrade LORAN-C to eLORAN, which should operate for at least 20 years, is $150 million. The projected cost of eight new GPS satellites is $1.8 billion, in addition to launch and operational costs.

    If this minor cost of continuing the LORAN system seems to be a no-brainer, then what’s going on? Lawrence A. Husick explains. In an essay of February 2, Husick, a senior fellow in the Foreign Policy Research Institute’s Center on Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism, wrote that the LORAN system “lacks powerful contractors who profit from its operation and congressional sponsors, to whom a remote radio installation that brings few, if any jobs, merits no support.” In short, he says, “Loran is an orphan.” He adds that February 8 marks the day the Department of Homeland Security put the nation at risk.

    His conclusion: “It is easy to see how a small system like Loran just got lost in the shuffle of bean-counters trying to cut corners.” My conclusion: We’re being penny wise and pound foolish. Let’s spend a few pennies for some vital pounds or have a navigation meltdown soon. George Gould @ KGLS. Life Member Texas National Guard, AOPA member #96150, FAA Safety Councilor for Scholes Field Galveston Texas

  13. Keith Peshak says:

    I have flown a Cessna with a CatIIIc Loran-C system utilizing barometric altimetry on a PDA moving map with terrain and obstructions since the 1980s. Also have a GPS, and have seen it fail often while the 3D Loran completed the zero zero approach and landing. Have seen many times when the GPS and Loran disagreed. I am alive because I followed the Loran (always comes back to the same place within 25 feet) and disregarded the GPS (which had been jammed or spoofed or didn’t like another avionics system in the airplane, like certain comm radio frequencies). The no notice shut down of a “free” system when there is absolutely no other system that can do the job is pure incompetence at its worst possible.

  14. Ronnie says:

    Why doesn’t the government have enough funds to maintain the Loran-c system? If the government cut some SOCIAL programs that are not needed their would be plenty of money!

  15. Ronnie says:

    What about all the money spent on Loran-C receivers? Is Obama going to refund our money for those?

  16. Mark Williams says:

    Big mistake. I purchased an old RDF to keep on my boat for when the GPS fails. Hopefully the AM broadcast stations will stay on the air.

  17. LES says:

    This is a bad idea satellites can get damaged or destroyed it happened to the Iridium system in 2009.
    There needs to be a back up if GPS satelites get damaged or distroyed oor JAMED.

    This is a short sighted move to save some money without understanding tthe consequences.

    I use Loran-C as a calibration source also now my equipment will end up going to the dump because it is obsolete.

    I cannot receive any signals now! when they shut down the Great Lakes system I was able to get Caribou Maine

    Thanks President Obama
    Penny wise Pound foolish.

  18. Egcroan says:

    George could you please contact me @ my foundations email address of or .I have also started a foundation on LinkedIn as well and can send you an invite to join if you are on LinkedIn.

    I have started a somewhat grassroots effort to educate our fellow navigation users as well as our elected officials to just how this system needs to be preserved as the foundation for an eLORAN system that does not compete with GPS, but in fact complements it by providing capabilities that are complementary to GPS such as in-building coverage for rescue workers, as well as determining position where the GPS signal might be interfered with either intentionally or unintentionally.

    I would appreciate any guidance and support you could render.

    Elmer

  19. Egcroan says:

    Tom could you please contact me @ my foundations email address of or .I have also started a foundation on LinkedIn as well and can send you an invite to join if you are on LinkedIn.

    I have started a somewhat grassroots effort to educate our fellow navigation users as well as our elected officials to just how this system needs to be preserved as the foundation for an eLORAN system that does not compete with GPS, but in fact complements it by providing capabilities that are complementary to GPS such as in-building coverage for rescue workers, as well as determining position where the GPS signal might be interfered with either intentionally or unintentionally.

    I would appreciate any guidance and support you could render, as well as your perspective on the comments made by the Coast Guard Public affairs person about LORAN-C not being considered as a possible backup. I find this very foolish to not even consider it as all the other proposals I have seen show lots of new construction, and totally untested new technologies. The FAA proposal in fact showed hundreds if not thousands of new beacons at every airport, but the problem with many of these systems is they can not operate without a health GPS system in place and are intended to provide only a short gap filler during momentary or localized GPS outages.

    Elmer

  20. Matt says:

    This is completely ignorant on the government’s part unless you are into conspiracy theories. For less than $30 I can buy a GPS jammer from China and render modern civilization helpless in my vicinity.

    I suppose we don’t need any navigation backup since nothing could harm our satellites and of course every foreign power loves the US and would never do anything to disrupt our GPS.