Washington, D.C. – Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) today joined Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) in a bipartisan fight to protect the Long Range Navigation (LORAN) system. This system provides civil and military air, land, and marine users with navigation, location, and timing services in Alaska, Washington, and other Pacific states.
An amendment proposed during the Senate’s consideration of the Fiscal Year 2007 Homeland Security Appropriations bill (H.R. 5441) would have terminated the LORAN program nationwide. Senator Stevens and Senator Murray worked together to forge a compromise that exempts LORAN stations in the Northwest and Alaska from these changes.
“While we welcome the advent of the Global Position System (GPS) as an invaluable navigation aid, LORAN uses a very strong wavelength and signal strength which enables it to penetrate into areas where GPS will not work,” said Senator Stevens. “For this reason, we must ensure the survival of the LORAN system in our state and other states in coastal areas.”
GPS is not yet a reliable navigational aid in many areas in Alaska because the unique terrain causes line-of-sight blockages. The LORAN system acts as a back-up for GPS in these situations. The LORAN system can also be used in conjunction with GPS to produce a better estimate of location than either system acting alone. Pilots who fly in remote areas rely upon the LORAN system, while fishermen continue to benefit from its accuracy.
“Pilots, fishermen and others rely on the LORAN system in areas where GPS coverage is not available,” said Senator Murray. “We need to take their concerns and needs into account as we move forward. That’s why we worked on bipartisan basis to keep this navigational system running in the Pacific Northwest.”
Senator Stevens first introduced language that ensures the continuation of the LORAN program during the Full Committee mark up of the Homeland Security Appropriations bill late last month. The language also directed the Secretary of Homeland Security and Secretary of Transportation to submit a report to Congress about the future of the LORAN system.
In recent years, Congress has appropriated approximately $160 million to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the U.S. Coast Guard to modernize the LORAN infrastructure.