Navigation Systems

9/30/2016: NAVCEN conducts DGPS operational assessments

Written by Lt. j.g. Joseph Kliman and Chief Warrant Officer Christopher Pittman, Coast Guard Navigation Center

Over the past summer and into the fall, the Coast Guard Navigation Center (NAVCEN) completed four Differential Global Positioning System (DGPS) operational assessments  of the New York, Corpus Christie, Puget Sound and Tampa regions.

As mentioned in our 2016 update, operational assessments now consist of three parts: operational assessment of the DGPS signal, a quality assurance inspection of each DGPS site, and an outreach presentation given to Sector personnel and/or the local port stakeholders.

GIS graphic interpreting signal strength data collecting.

GIS graphic interpreting signal strength data collecting.

To complete the operational assessment portion of a trip, NAVCEN personnel attach two to three Trimble ruggedized DGPS antennas to a vehicle or vessel containing a fly-away hardware kit which is used to lock on DGPS beacon signal(s) in the area. When locked on the DGPS beacon signal(s), NAVCEN personnel are able to track deviation in signal strength, signal to noise ratio, messages broadcast, and position accuracy while underway or driving a vehicle around the targeted area.

The quality assessment includes meeting with the local maintenance staff and reviewing the condition of the hut, antennas, and equipment. Discrepancies such as missing signs and guy wires needing repair are documented and repairs coordinated following standard maintenance procedures.

NAVCEN members coordinate with sector personnel and participate in local harbor safety or security meetings. During these meetings, NAVCEN members provide an overview of the services provided by NAVCEN, as well as how to report DGPS or GPS disruptions or submit general inquiries to our 24/7 watch. Some of the focused topics of interest this summer revolved around the Waterway of the Future.

Why do we do this?

Per the Broadcast Standard for the USCG DGPS Navigation Service, the Coast Guard’s goal is to maintain DGPS operational availability to 99.7 percent. By completing operational assessments, NAVCEN personnel are able to obtain a vantage point of the customer, and publicly publish our findings to NAVCEN’s website. With the decommissioning of 37 DGPS sites in August 2016, it is important that operational integrity is maintained at the remaining 46 sites.

NAVCEN is also the civil, non-aviation point of contact for GPS disruptions and anomalies. When reports are received, NAVCEN members work closely with other government partners to resolve GPS issues.

To learn more about NAVCEN’s missions please visit the NAVCEN website.

This blog is not a replacement or substitute for the formal posting of regulations and updates or existing processes for receiving formal feedback of the same. Links provided on this blog will direct the reader to official source documents, such as the Federal Register, Homeport and the Code of Federal Regulations. These documents remain the official source for regulatory information published by the Coast Guard.

Categories: Navigation Systems

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