Boaters may be forced to return to traditional methods of navigation as the US warns that the GPS system is close to breakdown

Boaters may be forced to return to paper charts as the US warns that the GPS system is close to breakdown.

According to reports in the Guardian today, a study by the US accountability office (GAO) – the equivalent of Britain’s National Audit Office – says that the entire Global Positioning System (GPS) has fallen into disrepair and that it could begin to deteriorate as early as next year.

The GPS system has been looked after by the US Air Force since the early 1990s but a combination of mismanagement and a lack of investment has left the system in a poor state and officials are unsure what effect this will have on satellite navigation.

According to the Guardian, the report said, “It is uncertain whether the Air Force will be able to acquire new satellites in time to maintain current GPS service without interruption. If not, some military operations and some civilian users could be adversely affected.”

These adverse effects could range from system failures, to boaters being given unreliable or incorrect directions.

So for those that rely solely on GPS, it’s time to get the paper charts out again.

Caption: Even reliable electronic chartplotters could start playing up