The demise of Loran-C and eLoran, case closed?


Damn it!  This morning the USCG, in classic gov speak, announced the publication of notice of intention to terminate Loran-C.  There’s a lot that’s not mentioned in the release, but my sources say that Secretary Napolitano did indeed sign off on this, as discussed recently, and that what she actually certified is that the Loran-C infrastructure will not be needed in the future.  Which means that eLoran in the USA, already 70% complete, will also be dismantled.  But some say that there’s still a chance of reversal, and a key person is Maine Senator Susan Collins.  I’m going to write her today!

Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now pleased to have Ben Stein as a very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Please don't regard him as an "expert"; he's getting quite old and thinks that "fadiddling fumble-putz" is a more accurate description.

15 Responses

  1. Barry Lenoble says:

    The party’s over!

  2. Sandy Daugherty says:

    Whadisay? Let’s mourn for a day or two, and get on with the next great thing! Perhaps a grid of miniature undersea beacons, powered by bio luminescence or pink bunnies with base drums. Thats got to be cheaper than a satellite.
    Did anyone else notice that the rate of change in navigation systems is accelerating at about the same rate as technology in general? That means GPS will be out the door in eight years.

  3. Dan Corcoran (b393capt) says:

    The publication is very oddly worded, a bit of CYA going on?

  4. George says:

    In all of the comments about this issue, nobody has mentioned that big ships, planes, and missiles use inertial navigation systems. It is not as accurate as GPS but it has been accurate enough to move big things around since about WWII. We have not quite put all of our eggs in one basket.
    When thinking about e-loran’s costs you also have to include the costs of equipping all vehicles with them, as well as the continued costs of updating loran charts.
    I imagine someday we will have a better system than GPS, which can be shut down by launching a load of gravel into space. I wonder if we could use the signals from quasars someday.

  5. richardstephens says:

    Now perhaps we will get paper and raster charts without the Loran lines printed all over. They really clutter the chart!

  6. Terry says:

    @ George – From what I’ve gathered the main point of concern is not the loss of our..way. It is the loss of the redundant timing in the event we need it if the GPS constellation goes down. Those segragated systems on vessels won’t help your debit transaction go through.
    My feeling is if the GPS contellation has that big of problems, then we here on terra firma will have bigger concerns.
    And oddly enough I just read an article where science is looking at quasar / pulsars for space based “GPS” systems in the future.

  7. �CXR Larus responds to decommissioning of LORAN-C�
    Dateline Jan 11, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    In response to official notice of decommissioning of LORAN-C by the US Coast Guard, CXR Larus today announced a product that allows LORAN-C users to maintain Network Timing & Synchronization seamlessly with GPS. Beginning February 8, 2010, the US Coast Guard will begin decommissioning of LORAN-C stations. However, a significant number of LORAN-C receivers continue to provide network timing signals to critical communications networks.
    The StarSync 6800-UTRRK (Universal Timing Rapid Restoration Kit) provides a method for rapid restoration of network synchronization systems by providing a Stratum 1 GPS reference driving T1, E1 (with SSM), 10/5/1 MHz or 1PPS links for legacy network timing gear. In other words, the 6800-UTRRK can provide the required signals to restore synchronization to any clock which has external timing reference capability, including legacy LORAN-C or BITS clocking systems, regardless of brand name or manufacture date.
    In addition to restoral of lost LORAN-C signals, the 6800-UTRRK is also useful for everyday troubleshooting of network timing troubles by providing a separate GPS Stratum 1 source with which to compare the legacy BITS outputs, and can be ready for use within minutes of arrival to the job site. The 6800-UTRRK also allows carriers with no in-house GPS clock to �test the waters� by connecting a local GPS clock to their networks.
    The StarSync 6800-UTRRK is comprised of a small-footprint GPS clock, antenna, mount and cable, AC/DC power supply and handy carry case. Highly lightweight and portable, the 6800-UTRRK provides two T1 or E1 (w/SSM), one 10/5/1MHz and one 1PPS output, SNMP management, serial management port and front-panel indicator LEDs.
    For full datasheet and pricing, contact CXR Larus, Power & Telephone Supply or Graybar Electric Supply. Government users please contact CXR Larus directly or

  8. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Loran, and eLoran, end in the US tomorrow. WaveTrain has an excellent summing up:

  9. norse says:

    The CNN website has an item about this:
    I don’t like the headline though: “World War II-era navigation system shut down”. A little searching shows that the first version of Loran dates back almost that far, but Loran-C is a sixties child and it didn’t take over from Loran-A until the seventies. It is true that Loran-C is old and that it can’t compete with GPS and that it was never intended to be a backup for GPS, but nobody was asking for continued Loran-C support, they were asking for eLoran development. Kill it if you want, but don’t lie about what you are doing. It’s water under the bridge now.
    If a new GPS backup system were to be developed from scratch, with no need for compatibility to any older system, would it end up being eLoran?

  10. norse says:

    BBC: “Sat-nav devices face big errors as solar activity rises”
    (The media is not usually the best source for technical subjects, but it is interesting that the media covers this at all.)

  11. George says:

    From the article:
    “If we project those forward, it varies quite a lot across the Earth; looking at the UK it will be about 10-metre errors in the positioning.”
    The errors would be much more long-lasting than the “blindness” problem, lasting hours or even days.
    Ten metres out is probably going to be OK for a sat-nav system in a car, but if you’re using the system for something safety-critical like ships coming into harbour for navigation or possibly in the future landing aircraft, you’re looking for much greater accuracy and more importantly, much greater reliability.”

    This is why we shouldn’t allow journalists to write articles without some halfway sane person reviewing it first. I’m sure this journalist doesn’t even know what an ATON is or that those green and red floating thingys are far more important to a ship’s safe landing than a 10 meter (30 foot) error in the GPS position!

  12. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Still ticked off about the demise of eLoran? So is Charlie Doane (me too!), and he has some dope on GPS jamming that won’t improve your disposition:

  13. Dan Corcoran (b393capt) says:

    Good grief, just $33 for a GPS Jammer and it even comes in a compact 12v lighter socket plug in for cars. What, so people with a company vehicle can play hooky ?
    I would expect electrical substations and cell sites that require the precise timing signal from GPS will operate without GPS for hours if not days. How well would they do if someone packages a cheap jammer and battery together and it goes unnoticed for days ?

  14. Dan Corcoran (b393capt) says:

    An otherwise unremarkable piece on GPS Jammers (link below) has a direct quote in regards to the goverments pre-Obama view on eLoran’s value
    “While government agencies will not discuss how they detect or dissuade jamming equipment, or how next-gen GPS satellites will be improved to make jamming more difficult, Last said there was one step the Bush Administration took in 2008 to counteract the jamming risk — a high-power, ground-based system called Enhanced Loran (eLoran), which was designed to be a fall-back for GPS jamming.”
    “So far, the current administration has not announced any intention to proceed with eLoran,” Last said, “… leaving the U.S. without the principal defense it had announced it wished to deploy.”
    Above quoted from “GPS Jammers Illegal,Dangerous, and Very Easy to Buy” By John Brandon –
    Updated March 17, 2010

  15. SM Bay Cruiser says:

    Jammers? Don’t talk about jammers! One good solar flare can (and has) knock out GPS for an indeterminate period. The years 2011 and 2012 are expected to be times of solar-flare maximums Of course if insufficient funds are allocated to maintain the satellite array in space, GPS is dead anyway.

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