Celestial Navigation Class Dropped
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) _ The computer has sunk the ancient art of celestial navigation at the Naval Academy.
In the new academic year, midshipmen will no longer have to learn the often tedious task of using a wedge-shaped sextant to look at the stars and plot a ship’s course. Instead, the academy is adding a few extra lessons on how to navigate by computer.
Naval officials said using a sextant, which is accurate to a three-mile radius, is obsolete. A satellite-linked computer can pinpoint a ship within 60 feet.
Academy Superintendent Adm. Charles Larson said he never even used celestial navigation in the fleet.
``But I did have a commander who made me use a sextant just to prove I could do it,″ he said.
Some old-timers consider it sacrilegious to eliminate a class that has been taught since the academy was established in 1845. But Cmdr. Mark Clemente, chairman of the academy’s leadership, ethics and law department, said change usually sparks debate.
``They probably had the same kind of battle when the Navy gave up sails,″ he said.