• Home
    Timelines – Nautical navigation

    Time PeriodNavigation SystemDescription
    Ancient Times (c. 2000 BCE)Celestial NavigationEarly sailors used the positions of the sun, moon, and stars to determine their direction.
    c. 1200 BCEDead ReckoningMethod that involves estimating one’s current position based on a previously determined position, speed, time elapsed, and course.
    c. 200 BCEMagnetic CompassAncient Chinese developed the first magnetic compasses, later adopted by European navigators.
    15th CenturyAstrolabeInstrument used to measure the altitude of a star above the horizon, providing latitude.
    16th CenturyCross-staff and BackstaffTools used to measure the angle between two visible objects, such as a celestial body and the horizon.
    18th CenturySextantDevice that measures the angle between two objects, vital for determining latitude and longitude.
    18th Century (1763)Marine ChronometerPrecision timepiece used to determine longitude by comparing the time at a known location (like Greenwich) with the local time at sea.
    19th CenturyEcho SounderAcoustic system used to measure underwater depth by sending sound waves and timing their return.
    Early 20th CenturyRadio Direction Finder (RDF)Uses radio signals to find the direction from which they are received, assisting in position fixing.
    1920sRadarUses radio waves to determine the range, angle, or velocity of objects, useful for detecting other ships and landmasses.
    1940sLORAN (Long Range Navigation)Radio navigation system using pulsed signals to determine the location of a receiver.
    1960sOmegaFirst global-range radio navigation system, based on very low-frequency signals.
    1970sSatellite Navigation (TRANSIT)First satellite-based navigation system providing accurate position data for submarines and ships during the Cold War.
    1993Global Positioning System (GPS)Satellite-based system providing precise location and time information globally, revolutionizing nautical navigation.
    21st CenturyAIS (Automatic Identification System)Automated tracking system used on ships for identifying and locating vessels electronically.
    PresentElectronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS)Computer-based navigation information system integrating GPS with electronic navigational charts.
    PresentGNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System)Global term for satellite navigation systems like GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, and BeiDou, offering enhanced precision and reliability.