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Nautilus published an article in the May 2021 Telegraph regarding the loss of position, navigation and timing (PNT) when/if satellites black out. This could be due to warlike operations, solar flare activity or collisions.

The UK marine establishment is totally blind to the repercussions in the event of satellite blackouts, but there is another important issue which is being sidetracked: loss of communications with deepsea shipping because there is no backup to communicate with ships because Portishead Radio was closed and demolished.

I have requested Admiral Lord West of Spithead to ask parliamentary questions about this in the House of Lords. The initial question was HL10934, then HL13331, then HL13689, and these can be viewed via the website I felt the government responses were very poor, and the researchers did not contact Nautilus International for more in-depth information.

I have written three research work documents, which I have passed onto Nautilus. I have emailed the chair of UK Chamber of Shipping – as yet no response. I initially emailed my MP Mike Kane (Labour shadow shipping minister) – no reply received. I have emailed Lloyd's List to highlight the issues. No response yet.

The shipping establishment/shipowners are totally focused on satellite communications – their collective heads are in the sand. A possible solution would be to fit VLF receivers onto ships, so that the Ministry of Defence could use their VLF transmitters to transmit blind four-hourly instructions, but ships could not actually transmit back to the UK. No one has thought this out.

I have fought for the R/O, electronics officer and electro-technical officer for a long time, and I am still bringing up important issues to the fore on your behalf, ladies and gents. We have talked about this at the Nautilus Professional & Technical Forum, but the issue of what we should do if satellites black out is still not resolved.

Please send your thoughts and possible solutions via the Nautilus professional and technical address and the messages will be passed onto me.

Clive Evans

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