US Coast Guard to Discontinue LORAN Stations
Last month, the US Coast Guard announced that due to economic conditions, they would be closing down the 24 LORAN-C (Long Range Aid to Navigation) stations operated under the auspices of the USCG. LORAN stations provide navigation, location and timing services for both civil and military air, land and marine users. According to the USCG, LORAN-C is approved as an en route supplemental air navigation system for both Instrument Flight Rule (IFR) and Visual Flight Rule (VFR) operations. The LORAN-C system serves the 48 continental states, their coastal areas and parts of Alaska.
On February 26, 2009, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) publicly announced the President's Fiscal Year 2010 Budget. In the section for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the budget "supports the termination of outdated systems such as the terrestrial-based, long-range radionavigation (LORAN-C) operated by the US Coast Guard, resulting in an offset of $36 million in 2010 and $190 million over five years." The USCG, once a part of the US Department of Transportation, is now under the direction of DHS.
LORAN-A stations were developed beginning in World War II, and signals were transmitted on frequencies in and around our present-day 160 meter band. LORAN-A was responsible for reduced amateur radio operations, including frequency and power limitations, on 160 meters in the United States. In 1979, the Coast Guard phased out the LORAN-A stations; they were replaced by LORAN-C stations. The newer stations operated on 100 kHz, enabling the restrictions on 160 meters due to LORAN functions, to be dropped.
According to the Coast Guard, the nation's oldest continuous sea-going service will continue to operate the current LORAN-C system through the end of fiscal year 2009; it is in the process of preparing detailed plans for implementing the fiscal year 2010 budget. According to USCG Vice Commandant and Chief Operating Officer Vice Admiral V. S. Crea, further details of the LORAN-C termination plan will be available upon the submission of the President's full budget. -- Some information provided by Cliff Appel, W7CGA