The SonixGPS™ needle guidance positioning system provides navigation assistance to facilitate needle handling during ultrasound-guided procedures. Each of 20 inexperienced nurse anaesthetists performed 12 different ultrasound-guided tasks in a porcine phantom. Using both in-plane and out-of-plane approaches, they inserted a needle and made contact with metal rods at depths of 2, 4 and 6 cm. We compared their performances without and with navigation as paired observations. Using the out-of-plane approach, navigation yielded shorter execution times (26 s vs 14 s, respectively; p = 0.01) and fewer needle repositionings (8 vs 3, respectively; p = 0.001). Using the in-plane approach, the needle was more visible with navigation assistance: 24% vs 52% of execution time, respectively (95% CI: 44%–12%; p = 0.0025). Better needle visibility was associated with shorter execution times and fewer needle repositionings. Combining ultrasound-guided techniques with the needle guidance positioning system may reduce tissue manipulation, thus improving patient comfort and safety.