U.S. warns commercial ships Iran may be meddling with GPS

The U.S. government has issued a new warning about possible navigating concerns to the commercial shipping industry, due to a recent spate of attacks in the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz.

Several attacks on oil tankers this summer led to the new U.S. advisory for commercial vessels. File Photo courtesy Stena Bulk

The Transportation Department’s Maritime Administration issued the advisory Wednesday, which warns of potential Iranian interference and trouble reported with some tankers’ GPS navigation. The Iranian threats apply to commercial vessels in the Persian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, and Gulf of Oman, the advisory said.

The warning notes Iran could hinder navigation by interfering with GPS, or using other “communications jamming with little to no warning.”

Six attacks against tankers in the region and a shootdown of U.S. Navy drone in recent weeks have increased tensions between the United States and Iran. In two of the incidents, the vessels reported trouble with their GPS system.

“Vessels have also reported spoofed bridge-to-bridge communications from unknown entities falsely claiming to be U.S. or coalition warships,” the Maritime Administration said. “The United States is committed to safeguarding freedom of navigation, the free flow of commerce, and the protection of U.S. vessels and personnel in this region.”

The federal agency said U.S. commercial vessels should take certain precautions, including a review of security measures and ensuring Automatic Identification System is transmitting at all times.

Iran has attempted to disrupt civilian aircraft and ship navigation with GPS jammers on Iran-controlled Abu Musa Island in the Persian Gulf, near the Strait of Hormuz, CNN reported.

The report said Iranian military boats have been “spoofing” boats’ automatic identification system to pose as merchant ships.

BySommer Brokaw