Celestial Navigation Returns to US Naval Academy
Picture this: A naval vessel is navigating the high seas thousands of nautical miles from
land. Suddenly all navigation systems become inoperable. What happens next?
What does this mean?
With today’s technology rapidly advancing, the US Navy realized that many basic
techniques are still relevant to safe operations at sea. Celestial Navigation is one skill that has not been formally taught to Navy officers, depending on one’s commissioning source,
for more than 15 years.
Based on direction from the Chief of Naval Operations, Celestial Navigation has been
reinstated into the navigation curriculum and is a requirement in the Officer
Professional Core Competencies Manual. This administrative change ensures the
instruction will be an enduring requirement.
The US Naval Academy resumed classroom instruction during the summer session of
2015. The class of 2017 will be the first in many years to graduate with a basic
knowledge of Celestial Navigation. Director of Professional Development Cmdr.
Adan Cruz says: “It is a core competency of a mariner. If we can navigate using celestial
navigation, then we can always safely get from point A to point B.”
Midshipmen also take two cyber classes during which they learn about the vulnerability of electronic navigation systems and how they can be affected by cyber threats. The classes include how information moves, jamming, the RF spectrum, and many other topics in cyber security.
Director of Center of Cyber Security Studies Capt. Paul J. Tortora says: “Teaching Celestial Navigation is just one thing necessary to learn in order to get ready for the battlefield that’s already out there. Cyber affects all battlefields to include sea, land, air and space.”
Cyber threats aren’t the most likely reason electronic navigation systems might fail.
There are any number of reasons GPS might be rendered unusable on board a ship, such as system degradation, electrical failures and satellite malfunctions.