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What would happen if a compass was used in a submarine?


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August 23, 2009 2:55PM

All modern and older submarines have always used magnetic compasses for navigation. Modern submarines use other methods for obtaining navigational fixes, as a compass is just a means of steering in a specific heading. In addition to magnetic compasses, there are other methods of steering on course that are classified and cannot be discussed here. However, Radar can be used to navigate on the surface, and Periscope observations of landmarks/navigational aids close to shore are also methods of navigating without a compass using a known reference and a chart. All submarines and ships have multiple backups for all onboard systems, especially for navigation.

If you're wondering, Submarine Sonar isn't used for steering or navigation in the traditional sense. It's more of a means to ensure the boat doesn't hit anything, and as a means to find and track any vessels it may detect. A small compass might be confused by the metal hull and give a false reading, but the boat is equiped with a powerful compass that is not affected by the hull.