Image: Shutterstock

Blog Editor’s Note: In the fall of 2019, RNT Foundation organized 14 different maritime organizations petitioning the US Coast Guard to raise the issue of deliberate GPS and GNSS jamming to the International Maritime Organization (IMO).


IMO is the United Nations body responsible for coordinating maritime issues in the interests of the entire world. This is a thankless job. And when the group does settle on something, it is up to each nation to obey the international rule on its own (or not), and (hopefully) encourage other nations to obey it also.

Based on our petitions, the US Coast Guard agreed that interference with GPS and other GNSS transmissions was a safety of navigation and safety of life issue. In March 2020 the service brought the issue to the floor of an IMO annual meeting, in full view of some of the worst offenders.

The assembled delegates agreed with the US. Last week IMO issued a circular urging nations to:

  1. “Take actions necessary to minimize interference coming from their territory,
    as required under the International Telecommunication Union Radio
  2. consider issuing warning notices or advisories to mariners specifying the time
    periods and areas impacted by any known interferences to minimize negative
    effects upon maritime operations; and
  3. consider enacting measures that prevent unauthorized transmissions on
    recognized satellite navigation system frequencies.”

In May 2019 the International Civil Aviation Organization ICAO), the UN body that performs the same kind of duties for aviation, issued a similar advisory.

Diplomatic efforts such as this are important, if for no other reason than getting it on the record.

And often transparency leads to better behavior. Let’s hope.