The U.S. Maritime Administration has issued a fresh warning regarding commercial shipping in the Persian Gulf and the key oil chokepoint the Strait of Hormuz, saying that vessels in the area may encounter GPS interference and “spoofed bridge-to-bridge communications from unknown entities falsely claiming to be U.S. or coalition warships.”
“Vessels operating in the Persian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, and Gulf of Oman may also encounter GPS interference, bridge-to-bridge communications spoofing, and/or other communications jamming with little to no warning,” the latest advisory reads.
In at least two of the incidents in the Middle East in the past months, vessels reported GPS interference, according to the U.S. Maritime Administration.
“Vessels have also reported spoofed bridge-to-bridge communications from unknown entities falsely claiming to be U.S. or coalition warships,” the advisory says, advising that U.S.-flagged commercial ships provide plans for when they would be transiting the Strait of Hormuz and immediately inform the U.S. Fifth Fleet Battle Watch if they suspect they are “being hailed from a source falsely claiming to be a U.S. or coalition naval vessel.”
“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 U.S. Maritime Administration said.
The U.S.—whose President Donald Trump said in June that countries that get their crude oil via the shipping routes in the Middle East should protect their own ships along the lanes—is trying to garner a broad international support for escorting oil tankers in the Gulf after the recent incidents. However, so far only the UK has said it would join the U.S. in protecting tankers after a UK-flagged tanker was seized by Iran last month.
Last month, Khalid al-Falih, the energy minister of the world’s largest crude oil exporter and OPEC’s biggest producer, Saudi Arabia, urged countries buying crude oil to secure the free navigation of tankers in the Strait of Hormuz.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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