Image: Maritime Executive Magazine
Blog Editor’s Note: We were wondering the same thing. Several of our members mentioned this as a possibility. But news reports made it seem like the ship was boarded in international waters under the excuse of “improper use of traffic lanes.”
While the Express article below gets a number of things twisted about, there are a lot of factors that make this worth looking into:
- There have been a lot of navigational “problems” in and around Iran. For example:
- The 2011 capture of the CIA drone from Afghanistan
- Two US Navy boats straying into Iranian waters in 2016 and being seized
- US drone shot down by Iran in June 2019 allegedly having strayed into their airspace – and the US calling off a retaliatory strike at the last minute, reportedly because the drone did violate the airspace
- Iran’s ally Russia blatantly spoofing ships and other craft as part of VIP protection efforts
- Merchant ships such as the one seized typically have very unsophisticated GPS receivers that can be easily be spoofed.
- Merchant ships typically have a very small team on the bridge and often couple the helm to their navigation system/ GPS.
- The ship was out of sight of land so even a major course change might not be noticed.
- There were reports the of the ship “turning off their tracking systems” (AIS) which is fed by GPS. Could be that the spoofing misdirected the ships into Iranian waters and then confused them so much that they ceased reporting position. This could be seen as “turning it off.”
Note: We previously reported that Saudi Loran-C signals were available for use in the Persian Gulf. We have since been informed that, despite published coverage diagrams, recent investigations have shown the geometry of the Saudi system does not provide good coverage in the area.
MI6 probe whether British vessel was spoofed by fake GPS co-ordinates
Security sources say MI6 and GCHQ are now investigating whether Russian and Iranian intelligence sent fake signals to the Stena Impero. Sources said that investigators will look into whether there is a technological footprint or whether western spy planes in the area picked up any suspicious activity, according to The Sunday Mirror. A western security source said: “Russia has the technology to spoof GPS and may have helped Iran in this venture as it was extremely brazen.
“It would make British shipping extremely vulnerable and will be of grave concern to Royal Navy warships in the region.
“The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Russian intelligence have worked very closely in Syria, protecting and promoting their interests.”
Russia’s alleged involvement could only have been given the go-ahead by its President Vladimir Putin.
It comes after Russian spooks learnt they have the ability to fool ships into false locations.