GPS has made global changes. It has changed the way the world operates. This is particularly true for marine based operations, including emergency services.
GPS provides the fastest and most accurate method for search and rescue mariners to navigate, measure speed, and determine location.
This has increased safety and mariners efficiency.

Knowing the vessel’s position is vital for the ship’s skipper in marine navigation. This is particularly important whilst in open waters, as well as busy harbors and waterways.
While out in the ocean, accurate speed, positioning and direction are needed to ensure the vessel reaches its destination in the safest, cost effective and timely fashion that conditions can permitted.
As a result, accurate position information is critical as the vessel departs from or arrives in port.
Marine traffic from other vessels, as well as hazards in the water make maneuvering more difficult, and the risk of an incident becomes greater.

Mariners and oceanographers are increasingly using GPS location information for buoy placement, underwater surveying, as well as navigational hazard location and mapping.
Commercial fishing boats use GPS to navigate to fishing locations with plentiful amounts of fish
Fisherman can also track the migration of fish, and ensure compliance with regulations.

Differential GPS (DGPS) which is an enhancement to the basic GPS signal known is able to provide higher precision and increased safety in its coverage areas, particularly those for maritime operations.
Because of this, many nations use DGPS for operations such as buoy positioning, sweeping, and dredging.
As a result, harbor navigation & accessibility is improved.

Industrial organizations as well as governments around the world are working together to develop & improve performance standards for ECD (Electronic Chart Display) and Information Systems, which use a cobination of GPS and/or DGPS for positioning information.
These systems are revolutionizing marine navigation and have lead to the replacement of hard copy nautical charts. With DGPS, the position and radar information can be integrated and displayed in electronic format on an LCD, forming the foundation of the Integrated Bridge System which is being installed on commercial vehicles of all types.

GPS is playing an increasingly important role in managing maritime port facilities.
GPS technology combined with GIS software, is paramount to the efficient management and operation of automated container placement in the world’s biggest port facilities.
GPS facilitates with the automation of the pick-up, transfer, and placement process of containers by tracking them from when they arrive in port to when they exit.
Annually millions of container shipments are placed in port terminals, and so GPS has assisted with the reduction of the number of lost or misdirected containers and lowered associated operation costs.

GPS information is embedded within a system referred to as the AIS (Automatic Identification System) transmission.
The AIS, which is promoted by the International Maritime Organization, is utilized for vessel traffic control around busy waterways & shipping lanes. This service is not only key for navigation, but is used to bolster the security of ports and waterways by providing governments with greater situational awareness of large scale fishing operations, including their vessels and cargo.

AIS uses a transponder system that operates in the VHF maritime band and is able to communicate ship to ship as well as from ship to shore, transferring information relating to ship identification, geographic location, vessel type, and information pertaining to the cargo aboard.
This information is being sent & received in real time, automatically. Because the vessels GPS position is embedded in each of these transmissions, all essential information about vessel movements and contents can be uploaded automatically to electronic databases.
The security and safety of vessels using this system is greatly improved.

Lastly, with the modernization of GPS, mariners can expect even better service.
In addition to the current GPS civilian service, the United States is committed to upgrading their system, ensuring improvements and new technology is incorporated as it is made available.
The results of this will be increased availability, system integrity and better accuracy.