Take 10: Issue 6

01 Jun 2014 The Navigator

The focus has been firmly on radar in this issue of The Navigator. Here are 10 key aspects to remember about this vital tool

1 Reliable radar

Radar has earned its place as a tried and tested ‘best friend’ to the navigator due to its reliability and independence from external systems, such as GPS.

2 Two for the price of one

The two primary uses of radar are for collision avoidance and for navigation. Professional navigators need to know how to use radar effectively for both tasks.

3 Know your tools

Modern radar has many sophisticated functions and options. Navigators need to know how to use these tools, their limitations and how to operate without them if need be.

4 Check, check and check again

Never take anything seen on radar at face value. Always crosscheck either visually (look out the window) or with an alternative independent system. Never assume!

5 Familiarity breeds success

Understanding how to use radar requires both training and familiarisation. Regardless of how well you may know radars in general, when you join a new vessel it is essential to familiarise yourself with specific onboard radar units prior to assuming watch.


6 Keeping in tune

Automatic tuning can be useful. However, knowing how and when to use manual tuning should be part of familiarisation. Tuning functions should be checked before assuming each watch.

7 Target practice

Continually monitor different ranges and consider the use of screen offsets in order to detect all possible targets.

8 Be band aware

Know the difference between S and X Band radars. Know which is being displayed and know how to use each strategically to best effect.

9 Team talk

Mentoring – there is not usually one best way to set preferences for a radar display, and the choice of display options changes with navigational circumstances. Discussing these options amongst the bridge team and Pilot can provide an excellent learning experience for all navigators – young and old.

10 Be alert to advancements

Radar technology and performance are advancing. Be alert to these new systems and encourage their application onboard where financially justified.