Blog Editor’s Note: This very good video and post by CNN includes new (to us) statements by a representative of the Russian government. It also features the voices of PNT community stalwarts Prof. Todd Humphreys, Prof. David Last, and Dr. Brad Parkinson. Take a look!
Gurvan Le Meur was steering the 37,500-tonne oil tanker Atria toward the Russian port of Novorossiysk when something odd happened.
His ship disappeared.
“First we had a few alarms — losing signal alarms,” the ship’s captain said of the June incident. “We quickly found that the position given by the GPS was offset by about 20 nautical miles.”
Alarms were ringing because the ship’s navigation system, which is underpinned by the Global Positioning System (GPS), showed that the tanker was located inland, at a regional airport near the resort town of Gelendzhik. The system showed other vessels in the same position.
Le Meur checked his systems, and reported the incident to the U.S. Coast Guard. The U.S. Maritime Administration would later issue an advisory about the incident, confirming that more than 20 other ships in the area had reported the same type of interference.
Experts say the episode was likely the result of interference with GPS, a navigation system developed by the U.S. Air Force that is now used in a wide range of civilian applications. They say the system’s signal was most likely “spoofed,” or overpowered by a stream of false data.
“It’s clearly deliberate, to make receivers in one location believe that they’re in another location,” said Dana Goward, president of the Resilient Navigation and Timing Foundation.