Malins Marine Service Co.,Ltd.
Malins Marine Service Co.,Ltd.

What is the use of navigation?

Navigation, science of directing a craft by determining its position, course, and distance traveled.  Navigation is concerned with finding the way to the desired destination, avoiding collisions, conserving fuel, and meeting schedules.

Navigation is derived from the Latin navis (“ship”) and agere (“to drive”).  Early mariners who embarked on voyages of exploration gradually developed systematic methods of observing and recording their position, the distances and directions they traveled, the currents of wind and water, and the hazards and havens they encountered.  The facts accumulated in their journals made it possible for them to find their way home and for them or their successors to repeat and extend their exploits.  Each successful landfall became a signpost along a route that could be retraced and integrated into a growing body of reliable information.

For these pathfinders, the danger of running into another vessel was negligible, but, as traffic expanded along established routes, collision avoidance became a concern.  Emphasis shifted from finding the way to maintaining safe distances between craft moving in various directions at different speeds.  Larger ships are easier to see but require more time to change speed or direction.  When many ships are in a small area, an evasive action taken to avoid a collision may endanger other ships.  This problem has been alleviated near busy seaports by confining incoming and outgoing ships to separate lanes, which are clearly marked and divided by the greatest practical distance.  Airplanes travel so fast that, even though two pilots may see one another in time to initiate evasive action, their maneuvers may be nullified if either one incorrectly predicts the other’s move.  Ground-based air traffic controllers are charged with the responsibility for assigning aircraft to selected paths that minimize the likelihood of collision.  Civil air navigation is profoundly influenced by the requirements of following the instructions of these controllers.

The advent of steam-powered ships during the first half of the 19th century added the problem of minimizing fuel consumption to the navigator’s duties. In particular, beyond a certain safety factor, carrying excess fuel needlessly reduces cargo capacity.

Adherence to a predetermined schedule, a matter of vital importance in space navigation in connection with fuel consumption, has become important in sea and air navigation for a different reason. Today each voyage or flight is a single link in a coordinated network of transport that carries people and goods from any starting place to any chosen destination. The efficient operation of the whole system depends upon assurance that each journey will begin and end at the specified times.

Modern navigation, in short, has to do with a globally integrated transportation system in which each voyage from start to finish is concerned with four basic objectives: staying on course, avoiding collisions, minimizing fuel consumption, and conforming to an established timetable.

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