With LORAN on the Chopping Block, Coast Guard Seeks Public Feedback

Boaters have until February 7 to comment on the navigation system's future

The future of LORAN-the WWII era radio navigation system that has served mariners for decades-has been in jeopardy since the advent of GPS, but a recent move by the Department of Homeland Security may have sealed its fate.

Not long ago, the U.S. Coast Guard spent $160 million to modernize LORAN, but that didn't stop the Coast Guard's parent agency, the Department of Homeland Security, from eliminating LORAN from its 2007 budget. Congress has voted to put the money back for one year, but the long-term future of LORAN remains uncertain.

Boat Owners Association of the United States advocates maintaining LORAN as a backup to GPS. "With the GPS signal being relatively weak, there is concern that it is susceptible to jamming, which could present national security problems if it is the sole navigation system for the U.S.," said Elaine Dickinson of BoatU.S. Government Affairs. "Testing has shown Loran to be virtually jam-proof," Dickinson adds.

Before it eliminates LORAN altogether, the Coast Guard is looking for public commentary on the issue. Boaters have until February 7 to express their opinions. After that date, the topic is closed, and the Coast Guard will decide the future of LORAN.

To voice your opinion, go to , register, then enter docket number 24685.