Much has been written of the late Duke of Edinburgh’s wide-ranging interests, from wildlife conservation to science and technology, and from citizenship to sports - roles that saw him as patron or president of more than 800 organisations.
Readers may also be familiar with his abiding interest in navigation, both as a patron of the Royal Institute of Navigation, which annually presents the Duke of Edinburgh’s Navigation Award for Technical Achievement, and as Master of Trinity House between 1969 and 2011.
Trinity House Deputy Master Captain Ian McNaught paid tribute to the Duke’s long association with the body that, inter alia, has a statutory duty to deliver reliable, efficient and cost-effective aids to navigation for mariners. “He had been an integral part of our transformation into a lean organisation of 300 people making full use of technology and overhauled working practices to deliver the best possible service for the safety of the mariner, including LED lanterns, helicopters and satellite navigation systems.”
Perhaps lesser-known was his advocacy of a British back-up to the US Global Positioning System (GPS) for resilient Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT) functions. He would therefore have been heartened by a recent exchange in the House of Lords when Lord Callanan, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy, faced questions on the topic.1 “PNT services from space underpin all 13 critical national infrastructure sectors, including national security, defence and transport. They are an important component of future technologies such as autonomous vehicles, smart cities and so on, so it is essential that we have our own autonomous capability,” he responded.
It is understood that the UK’s requirements for trusted PNT services will be confirmed shortly and a preferred space-based solution identified later this year as part of a national PNT strategy.2