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The Navigation Process

The Navigation Process

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Published by: steriandediu on Jan 06, 2010
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2500. Fundamentals
This chapter emphasizes the operational aspects of navi-gating in the open ocean. It is in this operational process thatan individual navigator’s experience and judgment becomemost crucial. Compounding this subject’s difficulty is the factthat there are no set rules regarding the optimum employmentof navigational systems and techniques. The navigation sys-tem’s optimum use varies as a function of the type of vessel,the quality of the navigation equipment on board, and the ex-perience and skill of the particular navigator.For the watch officer, ensuring ship safety alwaystakes priority over completing operational commitmentsand carrying out the ship’s routine. This chapter discussesseveral basic safety considerations designed to minimizethe probability of human error leading to a marine accident.
Voyage planning determines the safest and most effi-cient track for the ship to follow to ensure that the vesselcompletes its operational commitments. Constructing aplanned track for a voyage is fundamentally important forship’s safety. The commanding officer and the navigatormust carefully review and approve the track followed by theconningofficer.Severalships’groundingshaveoccurredbe-cause of unauthorized deviations from an approved track.
2501. Constructing A Voyage Plan Track
Construct the track using a navigation computer, agreat circle (gnomonic) chart, or the sailings. This chapterwill discuss only the navigation computer and the great cir-cle chart. Chapter 24 covers the sailings. Use a navigationcomputer if one is available because the computer elimi-nates the plotting errors inherent in transferring the track from gnomonic to a Mercator projection.When using a navigation computer, the navigator simplyinputs the two endpoints of his planned voyage. The computercomputes waypoints marking the great circle track between thetwo endpoints. The computer determines each track leg’s dis-tance and, given a speed of advance, calculates the times thevesselcanexpecttopasseachwaypoint.Constructthetrackonthe Mercator chart by plotting the computer-generated way-points and the tracks between them.After adjusting the track as necessary to pass well clear of any hazard, choose a speed of advance (SOA) that ensures theship will arrive on time at any required point. Given an SOA,mark the track with the ship’s planned hourly positions. Theseplanned positions are
.The SOA chosen for each track leg is the
PIM speed
.If a navigation computer is not available, use a gno-monic chart to plot a great circle route between pointsand to determine the position of resulting track points.Transfer these points to a Mercator chart as a succes-sion of waypoints connected by rhumb lines. Figure2501 illustrates this method. This figure shows a greatcircle route plotted as a straight line on a gnomonicchart and as a series of points when transferred to aMercator chart. The arrows represent correspondingpoints on the two charts.An operation order often assigns a naval vessel to an op-eratingarea.Inthatcase,planatrackfromthedeparturetotheedge of the operating area to ensure that the vessel arrives atthe operating area on time. Following a planned track insidethe assigned area may be impossible because of the dynamicnature of a planned exercise. In that case, carefully examinethe
operatingareafornavigationhazards.Ifsimplytran-siting through the area, the ship should still follow a plannedand approved track.
2502. Following A Voyage Plan
Complete the planning discussed in section 2501 priorto leaving port. Once the ship is transiting, frequently com-pare the ship’s actual position to the planned position andadjust the ship’s course and speed to compensate for anydeviations. Order courses and speeds to keep the vessel ontrack without significant deviation.Often a vessel will have its operational commitmentschanged after it gets underway. If this happens, begin thevoyage planning process anew. Ensure the ship’s navigatorandcaptainapprovethenewtrackcorrespondingtothenewmission. The conning officer must understand that, unlesstransiting in an operating area as discussed above, heshould never transit on a chart that does not have an ap-proved track for him to follow.
2503. Equipment Inventory
Prior to getting the ship underway, inventory all navi-gation equipment, charts, and publications. The navigatorshoulddevelopachecklistofnavigationequipmentspecificto his vessel and check that all required equipment is on-board. The navigator should have all applicable SailingDirections, pilot charts, and navigation charts covering hisplanned route. He should also have all charts and sailing di-rection covering ports at which his vessel may call. Heshould have all the equipment and publications required tosupport celestial navigation. Finally, he must have all tech-nicaldocumentationrequiredtosupporttheoperationofhiselectronic navigation suite.Completethischart,publication,andequipmentinven-tory well before the underway date and obtain all missingitems before sailing.
2504. Chart Preparation
Just as the navigator must prepare charts for piloting,he must also prepare his charts for an open ocean transit.The following is a list of the minimum chart preparation re-quired for an open ocean or coastal transit. Complete thispreparation well before using the chart to maintain the plot.
Correct all applicable chartsthrough the latest
Notice to Mariners, Local Notice to Mar-iners
,andBroadcastNoticetoMariners.Ensurethecharttobe used is the correct edition.
Section 2501 above discuss-esconstructingthetrack.Markthetrackcourseabovethetrack line with a “C” followed by the course. Similarly, mark eachtrack leg’s distance under the course line with a “D” followedbythedistanceinnauticalmiles.MarkthePIM’sathourlyin-tervals, and mark the time corresponding to each PIM.
Chapter 8 discusses calculating mini-mum expected, danger and warning soundings. Determiningthese soundings is particularly important for ships passing ashoal close aboard. Set these soundings to warn the conningofficerthatheispassingtooclosetotheshoal.Markthemin-imum expected sounding, the warning sounding, and thedanger sounding clearly on the chart and indicate the sectionFigure 2501. Constructing a great circle track on a Mercator projection.
THE NAVIGATION PROCESS 373of the track for which they are applicable.
This chart prep-aration step is applicable to military vessels. Often anoperation order assigns a naval vessel to an operating areafor a specific period of time. There may be operational re-strictions placed on the ship while within this area. Forexample, a surface ship assigned to an operating area maybe ordered not to exceed a certain speed for the duration of an exercise. When assigned an operating area, clearly mark that area on the chart. Label it with the time the vessel mustremain in the area and what, if any, operational restrictionsit must follow. The conning officer and the captain shouldbe able to glean the entire navigation situation from thechart alone without reference to the directive from whichthe chart was constructed. Therefore, put all operationallyimportant information directly on the chart.
Ifthetransitwillrequirethe ship to operate on more than one chart, mark the chartpoints where the navigator must shift to the next chart.
High-light any shoal water or other navigation hazard within50nm of the planned track. This will alert the conning offic-er as he approaches a possible danger.
2505. Frequency Of Position Determination
The table below lists recommended fix intervals as afunction of navigation phase:Shorten the suggested fix interval if required to ensurethe vessel remains
at least two fix intervals from the nearest danger 
. However, do not exceed the times recommendedabove.Chooseafixintervalthatprovidesasufficientsafetymargin from all charted hazards.Use all available fix information. With the advent of accurate satellite navigation systems, it is especially tempt-ing to disregard this maxim. However, the experiencednavigatorneverfeelscomfortablerelyingsolelyononepar-ticular system. Supplement the satellite position withpositions from Loran, celestial sights, radar lines of posi-tion, and visual observations. Evaluate the accuracy of thevarious fix methods against the satellite position; when thesatellite receiver fails, the knowledge, for example, that Lo-ran fixes consistently plotted 1 nm to the west of GPS canbe helpful.Use an inertial navigator if one is available. The iner-tial navigator may produce estimated positions moreaccurate than fix positions. Inertial navigators are com-pletely independent of any external fix input. Therefore,they are invaluable for maintaining an accurate ship’s po-sition during periods when external fix sources areunavailable.Always check a position determined by a fix, inertialnavigator, or DR by comparing the charted sounding at theposition with the fathometer reading. If the soundings donot correlate, investigate the discrepancy.Chapter 7 covers the importance of maintaining aproper DR. It bears repeating here. Determine the differ-ence between the fix and the DR positions at
fix anduse this information to calculate an EP from every DR.Constant application of set and drift to the DR is crucial if the vessel must pass a known navigation hazard closeaboard.
2506. Fathometer Operations
Use Figure 2506 to develop a standard procedure foroperating the fathometer.
2507. The Modified Piloting Party
Ifoperating outofpiloting waters butnear anavigationhazard, station a modified piloting party. As the name im-plies, this team does not consist of the entire piloting party.It could consist of only the navigator or assistant navigator,a plotter, and a recorder. Its purpose is to increase supervi-sion of the navigation plot in areas that could pose a hazardto the vessel.The navigator and captain should develop a standing or-der covering the stationing of a modified piloting party. APiloting Coastal OceanFrequency 3 min. or less 3-15 min. 30 min.Water Depth Sounding IntervalCharted Water Depth < 100 ft. Monitor fathometer continuously.100 ft. < Charted Water Depth < 500 ft. Take and record soundings every 15 minutes.500 ft. < Charted Water Depth < 1000 ft. Take and record soundings every 30 minutes.Charted Water Depth > 1000 ft. Take and record soundings every hour.Figure 2506. Fathometer operating guidelines.

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