Following complaints from local fishermen, the Royal Navy has suspended satnav signal jamming during its ongoing Joint Warrior naval exercises, despite making every attempt to let people know. Locals around the Western Isles say the jamming of GPS has disrupted their lives, and put the safety (and profitability) of fishermen at …
Yay for pagers
Back in the early noughties, we watched in horrified fascination how some fellow students apparently had lost the ability to do anything at all without first calling a mate or two to discuss how to do it. Now kids would presumably tweet or post on facebook or text a question or two. It's quite amazing how quickly people start to believe they won't survive without certain high technology they've become accustomed to.
Having a jolly old excercise trying to do exactly that, surviving without, say, GPS, or phone, or what-have-you, is instructive. Plenty of people should try, just to see where the weak spots in their thinking are. Knowing you're vulnerable and understanding the consequences is half the battle. This fisherman might have a point he's missed the announcement, but I would've thought he'd've picked it up from some marine data service or other. I mean, if you have GPS, why not that? IIRC there is at least one but not being a mariner I can't quite recall what it was called.
As to pagers, such systems have a much wider range than cellular phone systems do, and personally I'd like control messages to be sent over such a system, obviating the need for mobes to always stay signed in to the nearest tower, which is inexplicably recorded and kept for years. The phone can sign in when it gets a page telling it a call is incoming. And SMSes don't even need a sign-in, the page would suffice. I think that's a good idea, yes.
I like your thinking in relation to control messages but in practice this would not work. Suppose your mobile is switched off/out of coverage for example, and an SMS was sent out via the pager system, then the recipient would never receive it.
A map and a chart are not the same
GPS map in your car is great, no big deal if it packs up, plenty of signs etc and worst case scenario you can pull over. I would have no qualms using a GPS as my sole navigation aid on the road.
However, taking to the sea/sky without a current chart is foolhardy. I've experienced GPS failure midflight, with no chart I wouldn't have known if I was near controlled airspace/danger areas and wouldn't have been able to find the frequencies of any beacons to obtain an accurate position fix. I'm not a mariner but can only assume nautical charts contain similar information.
GPS is great when it works, but everyone managed before it and if someone can't cope without it then you wouldn't catch me on their ship/plane!
GSM off, SMS vanishes?
SMSes already fail to get delivered if the phone remains switched off during the SMS its entire lifetime. Though I don't know what'll happen if the phone company decides to store "sent" messages for longer than that anyway. Probably not deliver but archive anyway. Anyhow. Pagers of course did have that problem but with lower power draw and simply repeating sending it once an hour or so for a day or two that was "good enough". With GSMs, well, maybe they can have a pager-like modus, just receiving pages without signing in to towers. And perhaps they could delay acknowledgement of received SMSes until next time they really have to sign in. Or(/and) just sign in once a day or so for a full status check. I don't see it as a big problem since paging systems typically have better reach anyway. The only thing that changes is that the network doesn't get instant gratification, er, acknowledgement, and since the messages are tiny compared what we know how to pump through the aether now-a-days, well, not really a problem.
Christopher Columbus was aiming for India but hit the Bahamas instead. Not the best example...
It's not that bad
If he had named the Bahamas India instead of Bahamas nobody would have been any the wiser.
ry using a GPS navigator when you do not know the coordinates of the destination or the road diversion is not yet in your GPS's idea of the world; A map would at least show the lie of the land.
I could be wrong; but he did not know where either place was, just worked on a theory of where it may be, plus being in a vessel with rather less refined methods of overcoming wind and tide and no charts, not even a school atlas, of any part of the route. T
GPS is not always, or even often, as accurate as you seem to think. A couple of hundred metres out could be interesting in some parts of the sea.
You know, liferafts and the like could well have a small engine; but for some reason, they tend to include some oars, just in case. Ocean yachtsman have very snazzy self-steering gear; but the ability to steer "by hand" is somehow seen as useful. Electricity in the home is wonderful. Oddly, most people have got a torch and even candles just in case it fails.
Technology is useful, fun even. But humans have not changed, nor has the underlying physical world.
>Ref BOB H: The US Military made a commitment to the United Nations in respect to intentional
>disruptionof GPS at source, they committed to never doing it because GPS had become critical to
> so much of our lives.
You obviously missed the publicly available FAQ document made available at the time when they disabled Selective Availability .... I quote ....
"The directive also requires that the DoD develop measures to prevent the hostile use of GPS and its augmentations to ensure that the U.S. retains a military advantage without unduly disrupting or degrading civilian uses. The DoD has an active Navigation Warfare (Navwar) Program fulfilling these requirements. The decision to discontinue SA was supported by the commitment being made by the US in the development and deployment of capabilities to selectively deny civil radionavigation signals on a regional basis when our national security is threatened. This regional approach to preventing adversaries from using radionavigation services against us circumvents the need to degrade the civil GPS system globally through the SA technique."
So they never said they would "never do it" .... they just said they would "never do it globally".
And the reason they said they would never switch off GPS globally, and why they removed SA, was because they wanted to remove as many justifications for Galileo as possible.
No sailors on here then?
Modern GMDSS radios take an input from a gps receiver and will initiate a geo located automatic distress call when a 'big red button' on the radio is pressed (say when the skipper has his hands a bit full trying to control his craft / not sink etc).
So gps disruption may effectively disrupt emergency calls.
any 'skipper' claiming such a title (instead of 'suicide pact leader') would know roughly where he was at all times.
If he needed to make a mayday call he would then give his approximate position. If he is that incompetent that he doesn't know where he is; he probably also has flat batteries in his emergency gizmo - if he even bothered to turn it on in the first place or understood how to use it.
Any one relying solely on the 'big red button' deserves; as a minimum; an honorary mention in the Darwin Awards.
Any one relying on GPS as the sole navigation tool deserves their place in the Darwin Awards - and should be encouraged to try out for membership BEFORE going to sea (I'd suggest playing Russian roulette with all chambers loaded); where they will needless put other peoples lives' at risk
Any excuse for some people to moan, what did they do before they had GPS????? Maps by any chance.
According to the advance notice I received about this particular exercise, they're selectively jamming communications and radar frequencies as well as GPS frequencies. They also say that they are "avoiding international Distress, Emergency and Exercise Safety frequencies".
Someone didn't read the fine print.
It would have been nice if that was included in the office notice.
The notice at www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/295194/0120735.doc doesn't mention communications - just blocking GPS.
The Ofcom notice you mention does include these other frequencies but how many people are going to have signed up to this?
How important is the jamming..
If the Navy are willing to turn it off after a few fishermen complain?
What other country would limit their military operations because of complaints from fishermen?
Don't get me wrong, I don't think it's fair for fishermen to lose out, I know how tight the margins are for most one-man traller boats. But surely the safety of the country comes before the profit of a small number of fishermen?
If I had to guess, I'd say that the jamming is of "moderate-to-high" level importance. It is absolutely critical that the military practice with degraded electronic communications, especially those they tend to take for granted such as GPS. It's possible as a one-off to just "make believe" that they don't have any GPS, but that seriously reduces the sense of reality, as well as eliminating any ability to practice countermeasures.
That said, the RN is NOT insensitive to safety issues. If it was just fisherman losing their nets, I suspect that they would respond the same way that the US Air Force did when they were practicing with some black tech that kept opening (and according to a few complaints, frying out) garage door openers across entire suburbs. Specifically, they basically said: "We're the military, cope with it." I suspect that the RN would have responded the same.
On the other hand, safety issues (at least among their own civilians) tend to get a response from most Western militaries. Some Admirals are probably gritting their teeth at the "dumb fisherman," but they'll plan ahead for next time.
Send post cards announcing the jamming to all residents in the area, i.e. both of them ;-)
Yeah, "lost" fishing revenue claims ahoy!
Call me sceptical, but I'm guessing the Scottish fishermen are hoping they can get the RN to say "oh yes, we stopped you lot fishing, we're very sorry", so then the fishermen can start claiming for lost revenue from Whitehall.
/"Yaaaaar", for lazy pirates.
I am pretty sure that "radio jamming" actually throws out LOADS of frequencies and is not just targeted at one specific band. That would be a pretty inefficient way to disrupt "enemy" comms. as they can just change band, and hey presto!
I am not at all suprised that military grade jammers knock out damn near everything. This will be why it is dangerous.
The writer is presumably unaware of this.
Military jamming generally jams as much or as little of the frequency band as it needs to, after all the more you're jamming the easier it is to locate the jammer, which is generally bad news for them. The latter is why the RN don't have a lot of active jamming equipment and most of that is used against operational units to train them to fight though.
The RN have been conducting Joint Warrior or whatever it's called these days for decades, they've been jamming GPS for at least the last ten years of that without the world ending. Considering the timing of the exercise is the same every year it strikes me that the original complainer is either very very stupid, or trying to pull a fast one.
they don't actually 'jam' the signal by generating competing large RF transmissions. They degrade the signal by playing around with the information that your GPS decodes to work out where it is.
Mil grade GPS have extra functionality where they can receive corrections for the 'jamming' in real time.
ALL civilian GPS are only as accurate as the military feel like letting them be - read the small print of the free to use at own risk license no one can ever be arsed to read.
Obviously you are unaware of the change in use of the term 'jamming'
this one sent me off the deep end
Notices to mariners are issued comprehensively and in good time, in similar manner to notices to aviatiors. Fisherman and WAFIs are aware of them (and if not have no business being at sea). They all do courses and qualifications and pass exams to say they will and then promptly ignore them.
I've been an officer of the watch on carriers, ice breakers and commercial vessels and seen repeatedly that they think the world revolves around them, that they can ignore safety rules and the anti collision regs at will. They are a constant pain in the arse to professionals at sea and cry out for compensation faster than a french farmer see his subsidy cut. The days of fishermen being mariners have long gone. Most would struggle to use a chart properly if there isn't a screen attached, and many leave the bridge unattended and on auto pilot. At least that's my experience when watching them sail under the bows of ships that have right of way and can't turn.
If they're unable to work without GPS then stay out of the area for the brief time the exercise is on. Dawkins know the fish stocks could do with a rest from their pillaging.
Hear Hear !
and if they can't manage that - well the gene pool is far better off with out them !
I can't believe any one seriously paid any attention to these idiots - if you go to sea you read NTM (Notice to Mariners); even more than you look before you cross that busy main road.
As one of the WAFIs, I sympathize with your rant.
But I would point out that I have often encountered commercial vessels on autopilot with no lookouts.
Shouldn't a skipper be able to work out their position without GPS? I thought that navigation was part of getting a captain's license? Or do we now have a new generation of sailors who are totally GPS-dependent and can't work out N from S?
As long as (voice) radio frequencies are clear, it shouldn't be a problem, right?
Most folks here are assuming the skipper is still in charge during the emergency. But the nature of the incident may be that the skipper has sustained injury, illness or died. In such cases the big red button may be the only thing the crew or passenger can operate.
or maybe a Carrington effect flare has knocked all the satellites out ?
Or the engine died & so did the batteries ?
Or there was a nuclear war ?
Or someone managed to break the gizmo with the big red button ?
oh look - it's not safe to go to sea - all sorts of BAD things *might* happen - best stay in bed where it's safe .....
@carabus Skipper dead?? #
Single point of failure?
No, I don't think that's a valid or vaguely true arguement. But hang on, I'll ask the first mate...
We look out across the Minch
...and usually it's nice to see the sleek shapes of warships during these exercises, especially when they scurry for shelter when the weather gets up. You can keep tabs on them via AIS at this site:- http://www.shipais.com/currentmap.php?map=Minch
It's also interesting to see aircraft we don't recognise, from other nations involved in the exercise. There's also been a high-flying Herc around for days now, a change from their usual 100 foot altitude around here. They had their back door open the other day, flying close enough to see the lights inside.
We're on the mainland, looking out across towards Stornoway, so don't know the details of what the fisherpersons are annoyed about. For example, I'm not sure whether the GPS issue was broadcast via Navtex.
Why block them at all?
If the task is to perform ops without signal X/Y/Z, why not block them at the receiving end, on the ship, at the equipment that would normally use them?
OK, it may not be quite as simple as switching off the wheel-mounted Clarkson-voiced TomTom, but surely they could get some kind of exercise-only software update to ignore data from selected sources.
Perhaps blocking is the only way to stop someone.... Cheating? In a military exercise?
Are the Italians taking part?
How typical of fishermen. They are forever moaning. There are even TV programmes that have them moaning. Have you ever seen a happy fisherman? As I hate the smell and taste of fish I say good job RN!
...Loganair managed to safely fly me From Stornoway to Edinburgh while this was going on, Edinburgh Airport had an outage on their radar and a blanket of cloud covered the country.
Still, knocking out civilian comms with overenthusiastic jamming kit is a bit rude, maybe best if they take that a bit further offshore next time, eh?
Interesting. It seems RAF Barford near Banbury have been jamming GPS for the last couple of months on and off. I wonder why.
Well it's a win for the Navy in one way, it demonstrates how badly you can get in your enemies' shit if you jam their access to GPS. Might want to make a note of that one...
The Lords of the Admiralty should wake up
as simulating loss of GPS signal can be emulated by switching off the GPS receiver or disconnecting the antennae.
GPS is used for too many extraneous systems now including ATMs, rail, etc.
I have a portable cell jammer which has GPS jamming capability, and it is amazing hew large an area a signal of a few milliwatts can affect.
That wouldn't take into account the fact that a lot of GPS receivers are integrated into the systems they're part of, i.e. you can't just switch off the GPS part, so to practice with a degraded GPS input you need a degraded GPS signal. Similarly if you disconnect the aerial you don't get a degraded signal, you just don't get a signal which makes for an unrealistic training scenario.
GPS is useful, but....
Anyone who sails (and probably flies) knows better than to rely on just one navigation system. GPS is seductive because it works so well but when it fails you find out those people who can't read charts or even look out the window for landmarks.
I expect weekend sailors to have problems from this but professional sailors should be able to cope; it will be an inconvenience (not being able to zero in on a particular lobster pot in the middle of the night) but it shouldn't be fatal. (....and if it is I'm not sailing with them...)
EPIRBs need GPS
I yacht, I sea kayak and I hill walk. In an emergency, I'm likely to be unable to get through on marine VHF (hand-held at sea level or below) or mobile phone. I don't rate my chances of anybody seeing a flare in/off NW Scotland. So my only way of raising the alarm is by triggering my EPIRB. If it doesn't have a GPS fix, I'm unlikely to get much of a response.
@ EPIRBs need GPS
"I yacht, I sea kayak and I hill walk. In an emergency, I'm likely to be unable to get through on marine VHF (hand-held at sea level or below) or mobile phone. I don't rate my chances of anybody seeing a flare in/off NW Scotland. So my only way of raising the alarm is by triggering my EPIRB. If it doesn't have a GPS fix, I'm unlikely to get much of a response."
So don't go out when the military has announced, LONG in advance, that GPS will be down during X block of time over Y area.
Is this really such a hard concept to comprehend?
P.S. If the RN is nearby, and you're at sea, I'll bet you dollars to doughnuts that they will not only receive your VHF transmission, but can triangulate on it. You do have VHF on your yacht at least, don't you?
Clueless RN - again
If they are turning off everyones GPS to train RN navigators, WTF don't they just turn off the receivers on the navy vessels and confescate their TomToms ? Are they afraid our Jack Tars will cheat ?
GPS !=Tom Tom
The myriad of systems onboard a warship or aircraft using GPS are not presented by a stand alone box you can lock in a safe, well some of them are but most are integrated systems such as the electronic chart system or the central tactical system which continue to work with a degraded/no GPS signal. In those situations it's necessary for the operator to manually update the position using whatever method they judge appropriate, crucially though most of them don't have a GPS on/off switch it's an all or nothing choice. Obviously it's a bit unrealistic training for war with half your ship turned off just to simulate GPS not working, that normally happens later when you train for what to do after your ship gets hit.
And they're not afraid matelots will cheat, they know they will, that's how you win wars.
GPS has been around for what, a single generation? less?
So within their lifetime fishermen have lost all seacraft and have to rely on a lightweight computer that's probably going to mis-direct them via lake taho anyway.
We. are. screwed.
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