26 jun 2019

14 maritime organizations sent a letter to U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Karl Schultz on June 25, the IMO’s annual “Day of the Seafarer.” The letter urges him 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 says “GNSS signals have become an important part of all maritime operations. Interfering with them places the efficiency and safety of maritime  operations at risk and can impact the safety of life.”

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

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

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

The letter recognizes that some nations may feel it necessary to block GPS and GNSS signals upon occasion for security reasons. When doing so impacts vessels operating in international waters or those that are in innocent passage through territorial waters, the group says mariners should be notified to preserve navigation safety.  

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

  • GNSS signals are important to safety of navigation
    Member states should enact measures to prevent unauthorized transmissions on GNSS frequencies
    • Member states should refrain from interfering with GNSS signals as much as possible, except when required for security reasons.
    Member states interfering with GNSS signals for security reasons should issue notices to mariners specifying the 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.

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