Marine Glossary

Meaning of “ARPA”

In the marine context, “ARPA” stands for “Automatic Radar Plotting Aid.” ARPA is a navigational system that utilizes radar technology to assist with the management and tracking of nearby vessels.

ARPA systems are commonly found on larger ships and serve as a valuable tool for improving situational awareness and enhancing navigation safety. The system takes radar data and applies algorithms to automatically track and predict the movement of other ships in the vicinity.

With ARPA, a ship’s radar can track multiple targets simultaneously and provide information such as the target’s bearing, range, course, speed, and closest point of approach (CPA). It can also generate alarms to alert the navigator of potential collision risks based on the calculated CPA and time to closest point of approach (TCPA).

ARPA systems aid in reducing the risk of collisions by providing real-time information about the movement of other vessels in the vicinity. They enhance the navigator’s ability to make informed decisions, particularly in busy shipping lanes or during adverse weather conditions.

It’s important to note that ARPA is an older term and has been largely superseded by more advanced radar and collision avoidance systems, such as Automatic Identification System (AIS) and Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS). However, ARPA still represents a significant milestone in the development of radar technology for marine navigation.

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