UK and Ireland General Lighthouse Authorities have launched seven land-based eLoran radio navigation stations to deliver additional position, navigation and timing (PNT) information to ships in the event of GPS satellite system failure.

The eLoran is a low-frequency terrestrial navigation system based on a number of transmission stations and is capable of protecting sea lanes from powerful, illegal GPS jammers, space weather interference and other causes of GPS loss.

The stations have been opened at seven harbours from the Humber to the Firth of Forth, which is said to be one of the busiest shipping regions in the world.

"eLoran provides a signal around one million times more powerful than those from satellite signals, providing resilience from interference and attack." 

According to the European Commission, the €800bn (£690bn) segment of the European economy is currently dependent on global satellite navigation systems, which play a significant role in the delivery of PNT data for ships.

However, GPS signals are exposed to both deliberate and accidental interference causing interruptions in receivers and these events put vessels, cargo, lives and the environment into difficult situations.

In this context, eLoran will be able to offer navigation information for vessels without any interference.

Trinity House deputy master captain Ian McNaught said: "eLoran provides a signal around one million times more powerful than those from satellite signals, providing resilience from interference and attack.

"The achievement of initial operational capability for the system at Dover and along the east coast of the UK is a significant milestone, providing for improved safety aboard appropriately equipped vessels."

This will also provide timing data necessary to maintain the power grid, cell phones, financial networks and internet access during failures.

Unlike satellites, the eLoran navigation system can deliver signals that are capable of reaching buildings, underground and under water.