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NS101 Fundamentals of Navigation

Enabling Objectives
Know how to read a latitude and longitude position and determine its location on a
Comprehend the theory and practice of navigation at sea
Know the four ways in which Direction is expressed
Know the capabilities and limitations of various instruments used in piloting
Know the composition of the Piloting and Radar Navigation Teams
Required Reading: Duttons Nautical Navigation, 15th edition, pgs. 10-11, 1822, 33

Coordinate Systems

Coordinate Systems

Degrees of Longitude are always expressed in 3 digit format.


= 375000 N


= 0761745 W

Attempts to portray the surface of the earth on a flat surface.
There are hundreds of projection types, but only a few are common to nautical
navigation based on desirable properties:
-True shape of physical features such as bodies of land or water
-Land masses and/or bodies of water are represented in correct relative proportions
-Correct angular relationships -> known as conformal
-Distances are constant throughout the chart
-Great circles as straight lines
-Rhumb lines as straight lines
Your nautical chart is a Mercator Projection.

Mercator Chart Projection

Imagine wrapping a sheet of paper around the earth, with a light bulb in the
center to project the image of the earths surface. Unwrap the paper and.

- scale increases rapidly
toward poles.
- Great Circles appear as
curved lines.
- Rhumb Lines are
straight lines.



- Ease of measurement
- Distortion of features at extreme latitudes
(distance, direction & position)
-Latitude/longitude drawn as straight lines
and can be easily plotted

Great Circles vs Rhumb Lines


The shortest distance between any two points on the surface of the Earth is
always along the Great Circle between them; however, a ships course on a
great circle route would be subject to continuous alterations which is not

Since constant course changes are not practical, it is customary to follow a

Rhumb Line on a Mercator Chart rather than a great circle.


A geodetic Datum is a reference point in

which position measurements are made to
create a network.

Datum Shift

As a Navigator, it is crucial to remember that datums

can shift!

For example if a GPS position (referenced to WGS

84) in New York Harbor were plotted on a chart with
the old NAD 27 datum, your GPS fix would be

Identifying the Datum


Charts include a datum note located in the title block

or upper left margin of the chart

For example, the note may state North American

datum of 1983 (World Geodetic System 1984).

Time Zones

Greenwich Mean Time (GMT): Mean solar time measured with reference to the
prime meridian. It is often referred to as ZULU time

Time within each zone is determined in relation to the central meridian of the

22.5 W 15 W
+1 N


0 Z

Zone Description - The adjustment that must be applied to the

time of a particular zone to obtain Greenwich mean time

-1 A
Zone descriptor

Time Zones

+12 +11 +10 +9 +8 +7 +6 +5 +4 +3 +2 +1 0 -1 -2 -3 -4 -5 -6 -7 -8 -9 -10 -11 -12



Zone Time (local time) - Solar time reckoned according to the travel of the sun
with respect to the standard meridian of your Time Zone.

Chart One
Back cover of Chart One lists all chapters and their contents.
Includes General, Topography, Hydrography, Aids and Services, and Indexes

Best reference for looking up symbols on a chart you are not familiar with

Establishes common baseline for Surface Ship Navigation
Available online

Standard Navigation Bill

Responsibilities for maintenance of shipboard Nav Bill
Duties/Responsibilities and organization of Nav Team
Procedures for restricted waters navigation, open ocean navigation
Guidelines for ships to craft their own NAVDORM i.e. minimum requirements in the Navigation Bill.
Basic Skills
Dead Reckoning Procedures
Estimated Position Procedures
Electronic Nav modes
Check sheets for Navigation inspections.
Records, Logs, and Forms
Occasions for use, time limits for how long each must be maintained
Chart/Publication Corrections files

Expressed in four ways:
1. True -> Referenced to TRUE NORTH, is the angular distance measured from 0
to 360 degrees between two points on the earths surface.
2. Relative -> Referenced from the SHIPS BOW
3. Magnetic -> Referenced to MAGNETIC NORTH, which is based on the
magnetic influences which vary as you move around the earth. The difference
between true and magnetic north in any given location is known as Variation.
4. Compass -> Referenced to the axis of the COMPASS CARD. Different from
True by determining compass error (variation plus deviation).

Piloting Instruments

Measuring Direction
Azimuth Circle

Telescopic Alidade

1. Look through the front peep vane

2. Line up forward wire with center of slot and object
3. Look into prism to obtain bearing (true or relative)
4. Record bearing for plotting.

Measuring Distance
Radar - Distance is obtained by a radio wave that is transmitted into the air and returns
as an echo. Time interval between transmission and return is converted into a range.
Stadimeter - Uses two logarithmic scales to determine distance to objects of known
height. Very accurate under 2000 yards, but less accurate at longer ranges.

Laser Rangefinder- Same concept as radar but with a laser pulse of light traveling at
186,000 miles/second. Great for short distance calculations (ex. Two ships alongside
one another for UNREP).

Measuring Speed
Speed over Ground True speed relative to the Earth.
Equipment: GPS, Doppler Speed Log

Speed through the water Relative speed between the water and the ship, not
accounting for the effect of current or seas.
Equipment: Impeller Log, Pit Log, Shaft RPM

Measuring Speed
Impeller Log Measures speed through the water by translating the rotation of a small
propeller or paddle wheel below the water line into a measurement of fluid speed.

Pit Log 3-foot long tube extended beneath the keel. The tube measures static and
dynamic pressure, and translates the difference in pressure into a measurement of
Doppler Speed Log Uses a transducer that projects sonar beams and measures
frequency shifts of the echo to determine speed.

Shaft RPM A graph of shaft RPM vs. speed is produced by running a vessel over a
measured mile.

Measuring Depth
Fathometer Uses a transducer that transmits a sonar pulse vertically in the water.
The fathometer computes the depth by measuring the time interval from transmission of
the sound until the return of the echo.

Bridge/Piloting Team
Primary navigation plot using visual navigation aids (Navaids)

CIC/Radar Navigation Team

Secondary navigation plot using radar navigation aids (Navaids)

Questions ?