Location of counterfeit warships, including British aircraft carriers

HMS Queen Elizabeth

HMS Queen Elizabeth

Researchers found that the carrier strike group, led by Queen Elizabeth, had forged the location of the Automatic Identification System (AIS).

AIS is an important maritime safety system used to track the movement of vessels.

Nearly 100 naval vessels may have repositioned the AIS, discovered by environmental group Sky Truth.

Ships included ships from the European and American Navy, including 11 from the Royal Navy.

The Pentagon (MOD) said the carrier strike group, including small vessels of the Dutch and Belgian Navy, had no “operational impact”, but the operation of the AIS “could lead to serious incidents.”

The MOD said, “We are aware of the manipulation of AIS tracking data to place carriers in the carrier strike group in other areas.”

This is not the first time a mod has confirmed a forgery of the path of a British warship.


Odessa HMS Defender

In June, AIS data showed that the Dutch Navy’s HMS Defender and HNLMS Evertsen were leaving the port for the naval base in Sevastopol, Crimea, Russia.

However, the photo showed that the ship was still calling at Odessa, Ukraine.

A few days later-when the HMS defender actually entered the waters near the coast of Crimea- It was hidden by a Russian military aircraft..

Shore receiver

The onboard AIS system broadcasts the position, course and speed of the ship and displays the same data from other ships.

All commercial vessels larger than the minimum size must be equipped with AIS transponders, and naval vessels are not obliged to use the system, but are often used for safety reasons.

For example, US Navy policy has shifted towards using AIS in crowded areas after two clashes in 2017.

There are also satellite and land receivers that provide data to websites that track the location of ships.

Researchers say that all the false data appears to come from terrestrial receivers.

research, First reported by WiredWas conducted by SkyTruth, an organization that uses satellite imagery to reveal harm to the environment.

Discovered by Sky Truth’s Bjorn Bergman between August 27, 2020 and July 15, 2021 Approximately 100 naval vessels “suspected of fake AIS trucks”. This includes what the American destroyer USS Roosevelt appears to represent four nautical miles within Russian waters.

By studying satellite images of the ship’s intended location in combination with other data, Bergman was able to finally identify the fake wakes of 15 naval vessels from seven countries. rice field.

Bergman told the BBC that he didn’t know how the fake data was entered into the AIS ship location database.

He said the main risk is that the wake of the spoofed ship is used to “create or support a false story about where the warship is operating.”

Urgent review

Exposure to AIS occurs when GPS is not involved in fake AIS tracks, but there are growing concerns about the security of satellite navigation signals that many systems, including AIS, depend on.

Former First Sea Lord, Spithead’s West Lord Recently questioned Britain’s reliance on GPS systems..

In response to reports of AIS interference, Sir West said the BBC needed urgent action.

“We need to better understand the vulnerability and frequency of attacks on AIS systems,” he said, arguing that the government’s review of location, navigation, and timing services needs to be addressed.

From a military standpoint, AIS has primarily helped to inform the captain of the whereabouts of commercial vessels that need to be protected or tracked.

However, the military impact was limited. “Warships in times of tension and war never use AIS,” added Sir West.

Bergman said the researchers didn’t know who was responsible, but who was responsible “difficult to make a plausible wrong path.”

In the aftermath of the forgery of the HMS Defender location, Defense sources quoted as suggesting Russia’s involvement, An analysis that some experts are devoted to.

However, Bergman’s data also showed two Russian warships with seemingly counterfeit trucks-they were shown to enter the territorial waters of Ukraine and Poland in June.

But Bergman told the BBC: “There is a clear focus on showing false trajectories in Russian waters or in Russian-occupied Crimean waters.

“Two of the nearly 100 vessels suspected of being misguided were made in Russia. The rest were from NATO or NATO allies.”