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How do Navy ships operate?

Service members rely on a constant flow of information from satellite technology, radar, the Global Positioning System and visual cues to track their course and monitor other vessels. Ships receive normal weather updates and imagery from satellites but no real-time imagery of ocean traffic is available.

How much attention they pay to each signal depends on the situation, said CNN national security analyst John Kirby, a retired rear admiral in the US Navy.

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Vessels approaching shore or heavy traffic use more feedback to adjust position minute to minute, he said. As a vessel gets farther out into lighter traffic the crew uses less feedback to modulate its position.

“It’s a multifaceted, multilayered application of a series of sensors in real time that are providing feedback not only about…

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