WASHINGTON — The U.S. Coast Guard’s Director of Prevention Policy announced Thursday publication in the Federal Register of plans to prohibit the manufacture and sale of sextants in North America beginning Feb. 8.
As a result of technological advancements during the last 20 years and the emergence of the U.S. Global Positioning System, sextants are no longer required by the armed forces, the transportation sector or the nation’s security interests, and are used by only a small segment of the population.
President Barack Obama’s fiscal year 2010 budget supported the termination of outdated systems and specifically cited the cute but obsolete sextant as such an example. The president did not seek funding for subsidies for the manufacturers of sextants in fiscal year 2010. Termination was also supported through the enactment of the 2010 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill.
The decision to terminate the manufacture and sale of sextants reflects the president’s pledge to eliminate unnecessary federal programs. “These subsidies cost the American taxpayers over $1,000.00 per year”, said Obama, “This will result in a savings of nearly $10,000.00 by the end of my second term.” Questioning immediately turned to the topic of a presumptive second term, and the sextant issue was quickly discarded by the press corps present at the time.
Sextants were not established as, nor were they intended to be, a viable systemic backup for GPS. If a single, domestic national system to back up GPS is identified as being necessary, the Department of Homeland Security will complete an analysis of potential backups to GPS. The continued active operation of sextants is not necessary to advance this evaluation.
In a related story, as a result of this announcement, the NGA today announced that the publication of sight reduction tables for Marine and Air navigation would immediately cease, and all copies of the tables are to be destroyed. ABS auditors have been delegated the task of ensuring that compliance with this directive takes place.
From deep in the hollows of West Virginia, The National Maritime Center, in a move that surprised no one, announced today that the Celestial exam modules will now be mandatory for all deck officer endorsements and for unlimited horsepower engineering endorsements, and will continue to be administered until 2050, when a review of the celestial question pool will be conducted by an outside contractor. This contract will be a 'no bid" contract and has already been awarded. Please do not ask any questions.