World's busiest shipping route is first to deploy new technology to counter jammers and space weather

Ships in the Port of Dover, its approaches and part of the Dover Strait can now

use eLoran radio navigation technology as a backup to satnav systems like GPS

and Galileo.

The Dover area, the world’s

busiest shipping lane, is the first in the world to achieve this initial

operational capability (IOC) for shipping companies operating both passenger

and cargo services.

Today’s

announcement by the

General Lighthouse Authorities of the UK and Ireland (GLA) represents the first of up to seven eLoran installations to be

implemented along the East Coast of the United Kingdom.

The ground based eLoran system provides alternative position and

timing signals for improved navigational safety.

The Thames Estuary and

approaches up to Tilbury, the Humber Estuary and approaches, and the ports of

Middlesbrough, Grangemouth and Aberdeen will all have new

installations, and the prototype service at Harwich and Felixstowe will be

upgraded.

Although

primarily intended as a maritime aid to navigation, eLoran could become a cost

effective backup for a wide range of applications that are becoming

increasingly reliant on the position and timing information provided by satellite

systems.

Captain Ian

McNaught, Chief Executive of Trinity House, said: ‘Our

primary concern at the GLA is for the safety of mariners.

‘But signals from eLoran

transmitters could also provide essential backup to telecommunications, smart

grid and high frequency trading systems vulnerable to jamming by natural or

deliberate means.

‘We encourage ship owners and mariners to assess eLoran

in this region and provide feedback to the GLA on its performance.’

P&O Ferries has installed an eLoran receiver on its new vessel

‘Spirit of Britain’. She will be based at Dover and is one of the largest

passenger ships the busy Dover/Calais route has ever seen.

Captain Simon Richardson, head of safety management at P&O Ferries,

said: ‘Accurate real-time positional information is essential for the safe

navigation of ships with modern electronic charts. Satellite navigation systems

are vulnerable to degradation of signal strength and our ships have also

experienced occasional loss of signal.

‘We welcome the development of a robust

alternative to provide redundancy in real-time positional information and we

see eLoran as the most effective solution to countering the problem.’

Stephen

Hammond, Minister for Shipping said: ‘I congratulate the General Lighthouse

Authorities on this initiative which seeks to improve navigational safety in

what is the busiest shipping channel in the world, through the development and

deployment of technology.

‘I look forward to receiving reports of its

effectiveness.’