Of all the candidates for GNSS backup, eLoran is currently the most technologically mature and widely available. The General Lighthouse Authorities of the UK and Ireland (GLA) carried out the world’s first successful demonstration of a prototype automatic resilient PNT system using eLoran, onboard the THV Galatea out of Harwich in February this year. These tests demonstrated that eLoran is able to detect GNSS failure before it has an impact, and transfer seamlessly and automatically to the eLoran service- avoiding even temporary loss of PNT data.
The UK announced earlier this year that it will be achieving a significant milestone in countering GNSS vulnerability off the coast of the UK with the installation of seven eLoran stations at major ports along the South and East coast: replacing the equipment in two existing prototype stations at Dover and Harwich, and installing new stations in the Medway, Humber, Middlesbrough, Firth of Forth, and Aberdeen.
The Dover area, the World’s busiest shipping lane, was the first to achieve initial operational capability to assure navigational accuracy and continuity-of-service for harbour entrance and harbour approach, even if GNSS signal is lost. Initial operational capability of all the other stations is expected by Summer 2014 and full operational capability covering all major ports is expected by 2019. P&O Ferries has also installed an eLoran receiver on its new vessel ‘Spirit of Britain’, one of the largest passenger ships the busy Dover/Calais route has ever seen.
Currently, prototype UK eLoran operates in cooperation with the other Loran transmitters in Northern Europe in France, Norway, Germany and the Faroe Islands (Denmark), covering the whole of the North Sea region and beyond. Further afield, South Korea has expressed that it wants to establish an eLoran alliance with the UK while it pursues its own rollout of differential eLoran stations, due for completion in 2015.
Russia is also collaborating with the UK in exploring the upgrade of its Chayka system to eChayka, which will be interoperable with eLoran and provide Resilient PNT for the Arctic shipping route from the Far East. Korea and Russia also participate in the formal Far East Radionavigation Service (FERNS) that operates Loran together with China and Japan.
In the US, advanced Low Frequency technologies are being developed under government funding, which maintain compatibility with eLoran and these look likely to become the basis of future Resilient PNT solutions in the US. Developments of eLoran like this, across the globe, indicate that eLoran will become a core foundation block of global resilient PNT, providing reliable backup to GNSS for the majority of the world’s busiest ports and their approaches.