Washington Report: Senators back Loran-C

 - May 21, 2008, 11:03 AM

Three senators have written Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta in support of continuing the loran-C navigation system, as recently announced by the DOT, saying the move was long overdue.

Democratic Senators Herbert Kohl and Russell Feingold, both of Wisconsin, and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) told Mineta they backed his views about the importance of using both satellite technology and existing navigation systems to meet national transportation system safety needs.

“We and many others have strong interest in this issue because of growing evidence–including the President’s commission on critical infrastructure protection, the two recent Rumsfeld reports and other studies–warning that our country should not rely on sole-means technology such as GPS for our navigation needs,” they said. “Because of uncertainties about satellite navigation, Congress on a bipartisan basis has supported numerous steps and approved funding of more than $53 million in recent years to undertake recapitalization and revitalization of the loran system and infrastructure.”

They further pointed out to Mineta that the Booz-Allen & Hamilton report submitted to DOT in April 1998 stated that keeping loran-C operational until the year 2015 would save $291 million in comparison to shutting the system down.

The lawmakers argued that continuation of loran-C well into the 21st century makes sense from both a navigational safety and budgetary perspective, and they said such a decision will be widely supported by aviators, mariners and the telecommunications industry, where loran is still used for timing.

“We urge you to make a prompt announcement confirming the long-term continuation of loran until at least 2015 to remove lingering uncertainties among users and manufacturers about its role in the future navigation mix and to stabilize the domestic and international market for loran services,” Feingold, Kerry and Kohl wrote.