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GPS Jamming and the Impact on Maritime Navigation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 March 2009

Alan Grant*
(The General Lighthouse Authorities of the United Kingdom and Ireland)
Paul Williams
(The General Lighthouse Authorities of the United Kingdom and Ireland)
Nick Ward
(The General Lighthouse Authorities of the United Kingdom and Ireland)
Sally Basker
(The General Lighthouse Authorities of the United Kingdom and Ireland)


Versions of this paper were first presented at the Royal Institute of Navigation GNSS Vulnerabilities and Solutions Conference held at Baska, Croatia in September 2008 and the Royal Institute of Navigation NAV 08 Conference held at Church House, Westminster, London in October 2008.

The US Global Positioning System (GPS) is currently the primary source of Position, Navigation and Timing (PNT) information in maritime applications, whether stand-alone or augmented with additional systems. This situation will continue in the future with GPS, possibly together with other Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) e.g. Galileo, being the core PNT technology for e-Navigation – the future digital maritime architecture. GPS signals, measured at the surface on the Earth, are very weak. As such, the system is vulnerable to unintentional interference and jamming, resulting in possible denial of service over large geographical areas. The result of such interference could be the complete failure of the mariner's GPS receiver or, possibly worse, the presentation to the mariner of hazardously misleading information (HMI) for navigation and situational awareness, depending on how the GPS receiver reacts to the jamming incident. Recognising this, the General Lighthouse Authorities of the United Kingdom and Ireland (GLA), in collaboration with the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), have conducted a series of sea-trials with the aim of identifying the full effects of GPS jamming on safe navigation at sea.

This paper presents the key findings of these trials and provides important information on the effect of GPS denial. The GLA are playing a pivotal role in the establishment of eLoran as an independent source of PNT, taking advantage of eLoran's complementary nature, having dissimilar failure modes to GPS and the future GNSS. This paper provides information on the performance of an eLoran receiver in an area of GPS service denial. The paper presents the rationale for the work, details the system architecture employed, the data gathering efforts and finally the data analysis procedures, results and conclusions.

Research Article
Copyright © The Royal Institute of Navigation 2009

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