Federal Government to Shut Down LORAN Stations


DIAMOND BEACH - Aviation Week is reporting effective Feb. 8, the U.S. Coast Guard will begin a permanent shutdown of Loran-C radio navigation stations.

A LORAN C station has been operated by the Coast Guard here since 1957. The system has been deemed obsolete, replaced by GPS, Global Position System technology using satellites.

The 2010 budget for the Department of Homeland Security contained the shut down of LORAN C.

The Washington Examiner is reporting the shutdown of LORAN stations will save $36 million this year and a five-year savings of $190 million.

A total of 24 transmitters will be shut down by the end of 2010.

LORAN used a series of towers sending radio signals across long distances as an aid to keep ships and aircraft on course.

The Department of Homeland Security anticipates that all Loran stations will cease transmitting the Loran-C signal by October 1, 2010.

“The Loran-C system was not established as, nor was it intended to be, a viable systemic backup for GPS. Backups to GPS for safety-of-life navigation applications, or other critical applications, can be other radio navigation systems, or operational procedures, or a combination of these systems and procedures. Backups to GPS for timing applications can be a highly accurate crystal oscillator or atomic clock and a communications link to a timing source that is traceable to Coordinated Universal Time.," said Rear Admiral Kevin Cook. “With respect to transportation to include aviation, commercial maritime, rail, and highway, the Department of Transportation has determined that sufficient alternative navigation aids currently exist in the event of a loss of GPS-based services, and therefore Loran currently is not needed as a back-up navigation aid for transportation safety-of-life users.”

According to a Coast Guard press release: "The Coast Guard strongly urges mariners currently using LORAN-C for navigation to shift to a GPS navigation system and become familiar with its operation as soon as possible. Mariners will not be able to rely upon LORAN-C for navigation as of Feb. 8, 2010."

"LORAN-C has, as a result of technological advancements in the last 20 years, became 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 Coast Guard understands that LORAN-C is still used by a small segment of the public and that those users will have to shift to GPS or other systems; however, continued use of limited resources to operate LORAN-C is no longer prudent use of taxpayer funds and is not allowed under the 2010 DHS Appropriation Act.

The Coast Guard has enjoyed a long and close relationship with the many communities located near LORAN-C facilities and we value those relationships. The Coast Guard will continue to honor those relationships by working to minimize any adverse impacts to communities caused by site closures.

The decision to cease transmission of the LORAN-C signal reflects the president’s pledge to eliminate unnecessary federal programs."

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