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By Carey Bourdier
There are various navigational instruments used by the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard, as well as all the other ships navigating the world’s waterways. These navigational instruments are used in ships for various purposes. Some are used to determine the present position of the ship and some to indicate the speed as well as determine the direction and some to indicate when the vessel will arrive at its destination. Some of these have been used for years like charts and maps and some are electronics and computer operated. Here are just a few of the instruments used on board sea-faring vessels.

Telescopic marine alidades are one type of navigational equipment. Telescopic marine alidades are instruments that are used to determine the terrestrial bearing of an object in relation to your ship. It is usually mounted on a bearing compass repeater or bearing compass when used. Obviously, knowing where another object is located can be very important when navigating a large ship.

A three-arm protractor is also an interesting piece of equipment used in navigation. This instrument is also used inland and not in ships, although in these days, the GPS is more often used. When used in ships and while out on the water, this instrument is one of the quickest means to determine the location of the ship. The latitude and longitude can be determined through calculations made with data determined through the use of this instrument. Navigational charts are also used together with this instrument.

Binoculars and telescopes are interesting optical instruments also used in navigation. These are instruments used to make things look bigger when you look through these instruments. Binoculars are two telescopes that are the same and connected together and used with the person looking with both eyes. A telescope is only one scope and only one eye is used. With binoculars, a three dimensional image is seen because both eyes are used. Using a binocular can produce an image that is more natural for the person looking at an object. Even with objects that are far, the image seen will still be clearer and look bigger.

Navigational sextants are also instruments used in ships and in general navigation. A sextant is an instrument and device used to measure angles between two objects. Two mirrors are used and in navigation, the horizon is viewed through this mirror. The other mirror is movable and light from an object or the sun is used for its reflection. The angle between the two is then read through the scale in the instrument. Navigational sextants are very important instruments used in navigation because of the accuracy of these instruments.

Electronic equipment like sonar and radar are also very important in navigation. These are instruments used to determine and locate objects through the echo of signals bounced off the object. Radar is used with radio waves as medium and sonar with sound waves. Inland or through the air, radio waves are used and in the seas or underwater, sound waves are the mediums used. Radar and sonar have different applications because of the different type of energy used, radio waves for radar and sound waves for sonar.

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Navigation Instruments

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