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Dead Reckoning is a means of determining or estimating one’s place of standing or simply, position. Especially at sea, DR or Dead Reckoning calculates the distance and direction traveled instead of making use of landmarks. Or, rather than using electronic navigation measures and astronomical observations. 


Dead Reckoning, ded reckoning, dead-reckoning, deduced reckoning, or simply, DR is actually one of the earliest navigational mechanisms. As a matter of fact, it has become very prevailing during the age of exploration. This is because dead reckoning was taken advantaged by Columbus and many mariners.

Fundamentally, a navigator utilizes such simple but decisive ship instrument in order to track or determine relevant factors:

  • The speed of the ship
  • The compass heading of the ship
  • The time used on every heading and at every  speed

Essentially, with these statistics, the navigator would be able to calculate the vessel’s distance and route, which it had covered. Again, this kind of procedure is known as Dead Reckoning.

The Instability of Dead Reckoning – It has been observed that Dead Reckoning is apparently, subject to accruing errors or inaccuracy.


The reason for this is that progress in nautical aids that provide the precise date on position, specifically satellite navigation using GPS have made easy dead reckoning by people out-of-date for many scopes. But, in terms of inertial navigation systems that extends very factual directional data, utilize dead reckoning. In fact, they are greatly used or applied.

In comparison with their maritime use, the term dead reckoning is also employed to mean the development of calculating values. Particularly, the worth of any variable capacity through using prior value and indicating whatever modifications have existed in the meantime. Usually, this utilization entails that changes are not exactly recognized. The previous value and the transitions may be measured or estimated quantities.

Furthermore, dead reckoning can provide the best available data on position, however, as been earlier mentioned, is subject to failures. Possibly, this is due to many elements as both the direction and speed must be veraciously identified. Of course, at all instants for its place of standing to be noticed accurately.

For instance, if the dislocation is estimated by the numbers of wheel rotations, any miscalculations between the assumed and actual traveled distance each rotation, due maybe to surface inconsistency and slippage, will be the origin of errors. As every estimate of position is the same to the previous one. In which, errors are increasing if that is the co-affair of the quanta.

The veracity of dead reckoning can be heightened by using other, more stable procedures to acquire a new fix portion way through the voyage. Another example, if one was cruising on land in poor discernability, the, in this case, dead reckoning could be utilized to get close enough to the recognized position of a landmark to be able to view it.


While the presence of technology has created leaps and bounds of advancement, the tried and tested old navigational tools shall always stand the test of time. As with many marine aids, it must be noted that human elements include in pinpointing the right procedure to calculate information that can never be accomplished away with. A person can automate every time. But nevertheless, a ship’s officer skills and expertise have always been undeniably far-reaching for the overall safety of the ship’s navigation.