Radar Endorsement (120)

General description
The ASA radar course teaches safe, efficient use of small-craft radar for piloting, chart navigation, and collision avoidance, including radar principles and  practical matters of radar operation. A realistic PC based radar simulator is used in the course to illustrate radar measurements.

Basic knowledge of chart reading, compass use, piloting, and dead reckoning is required, equivalent to Coastal Navigation 105 or instructor’s approval.

Background reading and course text
Radar for Mariners by David Burch (McGraw Hill, 2005)

Specific topics to be learned include:

1. How radar works
•  Overview of system components
•  Microwave pulse and beam structure
•  Radar target characteristics
•  Range of detection, scanner design, and mounting options
•  Power requirements
•  Radiation safety near radar scanners

2. Radar Operation
•  Turning on, warming up, and initial adjustments
•  Gain adjustments
•  Use of anti-clutter controls for rain (FTC) and sea state (STC)
•  Pros and cons of optional display modes: Head-up, North-up, and Course-up
•  Optimizing pulse-length selection
•  Measuring target range and bearing with VRM, EBL, and cursor mode
•  Use of guard sectors and alarms

3. Interpreting the screen
•  Optimizing radar picture for specific observations
•  Radar shadows
•  Effect of horizontal beam width on target images
•  Effect of pulse length on target images
•  Identifying interference and other unwanted echoes

4. Piloting
•  Use of radar to hold a desired course
•  Use of electronic range and bearing line (ERBL)
•  Finding and keeping track of position relative to prominent landmarks
•  Identifying distant harbors or channels
•  Rounding a corner at a safe distance off the shore
•  Anchoring with radar

5. Position navigation
•  Coordinating electronic chart displays with the radar screen
•  Quick radar range and bearing confirmation of GPS positions
•  Accurate multi-range fixes using radar

6. Collision avoidance
•  Use and value of target trails and wakes
•  Tracking targets with EBL and VRM
•  Estimating time, range and bearing to closest point of approach (CPA)
•  Figuring true course and speed of approaching targets (relative motion diagram)
•  Determining expected running lights based on radar observations
•  Rules of thumb for radar maneuvering
•  Radar reflectors
•  Overview of ARPA and AIS

7. Radar and the Navigation Rules
•  Role of radar in evaluating risk of collision
•  Cautions (limitations) for radar use cited in the Rules
•  Rules’ requirements for checking various ranges and adjustments
•  Application of Rule 19d—when detecting a converging target by radar alone