Vessel in Persian Gulf reports electronic interference incident

UKMTO incident alert overlaid on an image of ships
The UKMTO reported electronic interference on a merchant vessel in the Persian Gulf, a first for the authority. The incident, involving GPS/AIS failure, occurred east of Saudi Arabia. Last year, a warning was issued to ship captains about potential threats. The US Maritime Administration also warned of GPS interference globally.
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The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) office reported an incident of “electronic interference” involving a merchant vessel in the Persian Gulf, marking the first such event reported by the authority. The vessel experienced an Electronic Navigation Systems (GPS/AIS) failure 95 nautical miles east of Las Al Zour, Saudi Arabia between April 2 and 3. This incident follows a warning issued by UKMTO in November 2023 regarding potential threats.

After the UKMTO issued the initial warning, the US Maritime Administration also issued a global Maritime Security Communications with Industry (MSCI) notice in October regarding significant GPS interference and AIS “spoofing” incidents worldwide. However, this recommendation expired on March 30, 2024. AIS spoofing involves manipulating a ship’s Automatic Identification System to transmit false data, posing a security threat to maritime vessels.

The incident in the Persian Gulf serves as a reminder of the ongoing risks posed by electronic interference to maritime trade and navigation. Authorities like UKMTO and the US Maritime Administration continue to monitor and provide warnings to shipping industry professionals to ensure the safety and security of vessels at sea. Ships and crews are advised to remain vigilant and report any incidents of electronic interference to authorities for further investigation and response.

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