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GARD WARNS ABOUT GPS INTERFERENCE AND JAMMING

Thursday, October 1, 2020 

According to the latest update from Norwegian risk management specialist Gard, ships have reported an increasing number of cases of significant GPS interference and jamming in recent months, in areas including the eastern and central Mediterranean Sea, the Persian Gulf, and multiple Chinese ports.

This interference and jamming has resulted in loss of or inaccurate GPS signals and has affected vessels’ navigation and communication equipment. The need for exact position, speed, and heading is essential to ensure safe navigation, particularly when a vessel navigates close to shore or departs or arrives in port.

The US Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration Advisories (MARAD) has recently issued an alert 2020-016-Various-GPS Interference covering multiple instances of significant GPS interference reported worldwide in the maritime domain. Similarly, The US Coast Guard’s Navigation Center (NAVCEN) investigates reports of GPS interference and researches these reports, where possible establishing the mostly likely cause. In the bulk of reported GPS interference instances in the years 2017-2019, 37 were reported by vessels operating in the Mediterranean Sea, with 22 of those reported in the vicinity of Egypt. In addition, two instances were reported in the Black Sea (Odessa, Ukraine and Novorossiysk, Russia) and also in the port of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. There was one instance reported in Hodeidah, Yemen, and one in the Strait of Hormuz. During the same period, there were also a number of instances of GPS interference reported in China; four in the vicinity of Shanghai in Eastern China, and one each in the vicinity of Qingdao in Eastern China, and in the vicinity of the Sea of Japan.

Gard recommends reporting incidents of GPS interference and jamming, cyber spoofing, software and electronic incidents and similar failures. By doing so, it will help Governments and the industry in establishing the root-causes and learn how to handle and avoid such incidents in the future. To facilitate reporting and analysis, it is important to include critical information such as the location (latitude/longitude), date and time, duration of the outage/disruption, photographs or screen shots of equipment failures experienced when reporting incidents. MARAD has a dedicated Web Portal for communicating potential or observed maritime security threats, such as GPS interference, by the maritime industry. Both NAVCEN and NATO Shipping Centre have dedicated websites to receive reports and to share information about effective navigation practices for vessels experiencing GPS disruption or security threats.

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