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Maritime Applications

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Title Maritime Applications
Edited by GMV
Level Intermediate
Year of Publication 2011
Logo GMV.png

According with International Maritime Organization (IMO), Shipping is the most international of all the world's great industries. In fact a huge number of vessels moves around the world each day, making the efficiency, safety and optimization of marine transportation key issues.

GNSS technology will be fundamental for bringing innovation and progress in navigation and many other marine activities such as fishing, oceanography and oil and gas exploitation. Satellite navigation benefits all maritime applications, including leisure boats, commercial vessels, and unregulated and Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) regulated ships. Each application will take advantage of the new characteristics offered by GNSS augmentation: increased accuracy and integrity, certified services and high availability.[1]

GNSS will be used in every phase of marine navigation: ocean, coastal, port approach and port manoeuvres, under all weather conditions.[2]

Overview of Maritime Applications

GNSS is used mainly in maritime en route navigation and in support to the AIS and VTS systems which are maritime traffic collision and traffic control mechanisms. In maritime en route navigation there are two categories of applications, the chart plotters receivers and fish finder applications.

Besides the above mentioned applications, there are several other utilizations of GNSS in maritime applications, such as:[3]

  • Observing the changes of sea level,
  • Dredging operations,
  • Wrecks location,
  • Laying pipe lines,
  • Search and Rescue of sinking vessels,
  • Dynamic positioning,
  • Positioning of oil rigs and
  • Fixing of satellite sea launch platforms.

En Route Navigation

En route navigation

Nowadays, ship navigation casualties and incidents can result in serious loss of life and pollution of the marine environment as modern ship can carry over 5,000 people and over 500,000 tons of petroleum.[4] A wide variety of vessels moves around the world each day. The efficiency, safety and optimization of marine transportation are key issues.[1]

Due to the presented reasons, GNSS is being adopted as a marine navigation tool because it provides a reliable and short cost solution, allowing interoperability across navigational areas and with great impact in safety and commercial benefits, for all maritime purposes, including leisure boats, commercial vessels, unregulated and Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) regulated ships.[1]

Detailed information about En Route Navigation can be found here.


Vessel traffic system

The Automatic Identification System (AIS) is perhaps the biggest technological advance in maritime navigation, since the introduction of radar. The service is a shipboard broadcast system that acts like a transponder, operating in the VHF maritime band and transmitting real time information of the vessel, in a similar manner as ADS-B [5] for aviation. In the same way as ADS-B, the AIS relies on GNSS as primary positioning source.

The Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) provides active monitoring and navigational advice for vessels in particularly confined and busy waterways.[5] Usually the VTS integrates in a command and control room, information from sources such as radar, AIS and closed circuit television sites.

Detailed information about AIS/VTS can be found here.



  1. ^ a b c ESA Portal, Maritime Navigation Applications
  2. ^ Galileo Application Sheet - Maritime Applications, ESA and European Commission, October 2002
  3. ^ GSA METIS, November 2007
  4. ^ New role of GNSS in the safety of maritime navigation, R. La Pira, Italian Naval Academy, La Revista 37, 2010, Instituto de Navegación de España
  5. ^ a b Navigation Center Portal, U.S. Coast Guard NAVCEN