Celestial Navigation on HMCS Calgary

Photo by Corporal Lynette Dang, HMCS Calgary

Photo by Corporal Lynette Dang, HMCS Calgary

Captain Jeff Klassen
HMCS Calgary

Even in the age of GPS, navigation by stars via sextant is still done in the Royal Canadian Navy. While on Operation Projection in the Indo-Pacific this April, HMCS Calgary had some clear nights at sea, and the opportunity was taken to hone this skill with junior Naval Warfare Officers.

“It’s very unlikely, but, in the rare-event the ship loses GPS, maintaining an ability to navigate using the stars is a valuable skill we need to keep in our back pocket,” said Lieutenant (Navy) Evan Park, Navigating Officer. “I find it incredibly rewarding to be able to pass on this age-old skill to the junior officers working for me.”

Celestial navigation training took place at what is called nautical twilight, a time where it is bright enough to see the horizon but dark enough to see the stars — usually about an hour after sunset. Practice sessions using this manual method happen regularly on ship and the skill is part of the training package Naval Warfare Officer Sub-Lieutenants must complete to get promoted to Lieutenant (Navy).


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