Fourteen Maritime Organizations Protest Jamming and Spoofing

file photo courtesy of Diamantino Rosa
file photo courtesy of Diamantino Rosa

Published Jun 25, 2019 5:02 PM by The Maritime Executive

Fourteen maritime organizations sent a letter to U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Karl Schultz on June 25, which is the IMO's annual “Day of the Seafarer.” The letter urged the USCG to raise the issue of jamming and spoofing of GPS and other Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) signals at the IMO Council meeting next month. 

The letter states that “GNSS signals have become an important part of marine operations and interferience with them places the efficiency and safety of maritime operations at risk, and can impact seafarer lives.” 

A recent report on Russian interference on navigation signals in the Black Sea and Syria as well as another study that spanned from Europe to the Far East were cited as evidence of the problem. 

The U.S. Maritime Administration has issued several advisories for GPS signal interference in the Eastern Mediterranean during the last two years. 

GPS signal interference is seen by many to be a violation of International Telecommunications Regulations, which concludes that “All transmissions with false or misleading identification are prohibited.” 

The letter also recognizes that some nations feel it necessary to block GPS and GNSS signal for security reasons, but the reality of blocking signals impact vessels operating in international waters or for those in innocent passage through territorial waters. The  group concludes that mariners should be notified in order to preserve navigational safety.  

The letter requests the Coast Guard to propose a resolution at the upcoming IMO meeting next month and should include:

• GNSS signals are important to safety navigation
• Member states should enact measures to prevent unauthorized transmissions on GNSS frequencies
• Member states should refrain from interfering with GNSS signals except when required for security reasons.
• Member states interfering with GNSS signals for security reasons should issue Notices to Mariners, which specify time periods and areas impacted to help minimize negative effects on maritime operations.

The letter was coordinated by the Resilient Navigation and Timing Foundation, a scientific and educational charity. A copy is available on their website here.