U.S. Warns of Iran Threats to Commercial Ships


The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration issued a warning Wednesday to commercial ships concerning reported GPS interference by Iran in the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf.

The department also said there have been reports of “unknown entities falsely claiming to be U.S. or coalition warships.” During at least two such incidents, “vessels reported GPS interference. One vessel reportedly shut off its Automatic Identification System (AIS) before it was seized, complicating response efforts.”

“Vessels have also reported spoofed bridge-to-bridge communications from unknown entities falsely claiming to be U.S. or coalition warships,” the department said in its warning.

A statement by the U.S. Central Command, which is tasked with overseeing military operations in the region, likewise detailed reports of GPS interference, “bridge-to-bridge communications spoofing, and/or other communications jamming with little to no warning.”

The statement added that the U.S. continued to work with “allies and regional partners to safeguard the freedom of navigation, the free flow of commerce, and the protection of U.S. vessels and personnel in this region.”

According to a U.S. defense official, GPS jammers have been placed by Iran on the Abu Musa Island – controlled by the Islamic Republic – in the Persian Gulf, near the entrance of the Strait of Hormuz. They were reportedly placed there to disrupt civilian aircraft and ship navigation systems and make them mistakenly wander into Iranian waters or airspace so that Iranian forces can capture them.

The official added, however, that the jammers do not have any effect on U.S. military warships and aircraft.

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