After Twenty Years, Naval Academy Brings Back Celestial Navigation

Clark February 18th, 2016

After removing it from their standard curriculum for nearly two decades, the navy has decided that the threat of cyberterrorism, electrical pulse attacks, lightening strikes, and other potential blackouts of the GPS system warrant reinstating the age-old art. The US Coast Guard, which stripped it from their curriculum a decade ago, is following suit.

Should cruisers be taking a hint?

You can read about it in the Capital Gazette or The Washington Post

The GPS system has never been “brought down,” according to the government, but local disturbances and drop-outs are commonplace. And it’s conceivable that the system might be brought down intentionally by the good guys so the bad guys can’t use it. My mole in the commercial shipping world says they have to be up on their celestial for any trip to the Persian Gulf, for just these reasons.

My first time cruising, in the eighties, our whole trip across the Pacific was by sextant, but I wasn’t doing the navigating. Since then I’ve always carried a sextant with the tables and a nautical almanac, and I’ve occasionally taken a few sights, just to convince myself that, in a pinch, I might, sort of, probably, eventually, be able to figure out where the hell I was, more or less.

Maybe it’s time to get more serious about it? If nothing else, it might be fun.

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Comment by Ralph Ahseln
2016-03-02 12:33:44

Excuse me !
Please read the Gazette article again. Your reference to the Academy “Bringing back Celestial Navigation” is rather misleading. They clearly state that there is Only “3 hours of classroom” and it’s for “Basic Theory”. They go on to say that “no one will be an expert”.
Your article makes it seem that the Navy will now teach Celestial Navigation.. That of course is not the case.
Please post a clarification

Ralph E. Ahseln

Comment by augustus kinsolving
2016-03-02 12:51:02

I think the sooner the better this arrogant and self-centered government of ours in Washington, should work out a game plan, for what to do when everything shuts down, all at once. The Idea! Coast card and USNA depending on a box on their risks, to tell them where their ship is! If the GPS is workin’ properly! We’ve got to do things, in my opinion, simpler & better. ABK

Comment by Clark
2016-03-04 12:32:53

Hi Ralph, I don’t think a clarification is needed. The US Navy, in their press release, says “Celestial Navigation Returns to USNA.”

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