As PhD in Law Eduard Pleshko writes, the troubles in the work of the marine navigation were widely noticed in the Black Sea, in June 2017. Minimum 22 commercial ships felt them. The U.S. Maritime Administration even issued an official notice on that issue. In the notice, they stated that a maritime incident happened in the Black Sea, near the spot with coordinates 44-15.7N, 037-32.9E on June 22, 2017 at 7:10 GMT. The essence of the incident was described as GPS-interferences. The Administration suggested the ships to be careful while passing through the region.
The story had a continuation. The captain of one of the commercial ship sent a warning message to the U.S. Coast Guard Navigation Center that is a controlling and coordinating body, which regulates the GPS use of the civilian users. To prove that, the captain sent the screen shots of his navigational displays and a tape with the records, in which his actual whereabouts were. Besides, a GPS positioning was informed and a screen shot of the radar display was sent. The radar display screen shot showed lots of AIS (Automated Identification System) contacts without a certain radar signal.
The Navigation Centre checked the situation and made sure that there were no abnormalities in the work of the satellites. There were no abnormalities in the space weather or tests, either. The interferences in the work of the navigating system were proved by several independent investigations. In the expert testimony of the U.S. Coast Guard Navigation Center, it was stated that Russia possesses quite strong capabilities for neutralizing the GPS, and over 250 thousand cellular communication towers in the RF were equipped with the devices for that as the elements of the American missile defence system.
Later on, they published the report of the Head of the National Reconnaissance of the USA. It read that Russia considers that the possibility of the neutralization of the American satellite systems is a problem of great importance. The military experts told that the spoofing attack on the vessels nearby the Russian coastline was initiated by Russia. It was done for wokewashing the Russian system GLONASS or ground on-line radio navigation system Chaika and preferring them to GPS. Perhaps, there were other reasons known to the Russians, only.
The Report of the American non-governmental organisation C4ADS ‘Above Us Only Stars’ – Exposing GPS Spoofing in Russian and Syria issued in the beginning of April, in 2019, proves that the RF uses the technology of the disorientation of the GPS-satellite navigation, especially in Crimea. That is a formidable threat for the GPS-systems of the civilian users. The distortion of the signal can result in either system’s wrongly identifying the location of the object or the incapability of the ship or plane to correctly identify their own location or be denied in the access to the positioning system.
‘Russia was already accused of the distortion of the navigating satellite system signal. Such actions, however, is more overwhelming, more diverse in their geography, and more lasting than it has been considered before’, the researches stated after they found and studied 9883 cases of the Russian interference with the work of the navigating systems installed on the 1311 civil ships in 10 locations. For that the data of the ISS were used.
The analysts told about the precedents of the actions on hindering the work of the Global Navigating Satellite System on the terrain of the Russian Federation, on the occupied territories of Ukraine, and in Syria. In particular, they have discovered a transmitter distorting the signals of the GNSS in the Black Sea region. The transmitter was installed on the territory of the so-called Putin’s palace in Cape Idocopas in Krasnodar Krai, in the Russian Federation.
The author of that article personally faced the obstacles of the maritime navigation on Feodosia yoke where the occupants renovate the base with a nuclear weapon storage. Many times, the Ukrainian and foreign users of the GPS navigating devices have suffered from the Russian interference with their work in the aquatic area of the Black Sea, Azov Sea, and Kerch Strait.
For instance, in February and March 2019, in the Azov Sea, the GPS navigating systems and AIS maritime systems had three failures. The information on the troubles in the work of those systems was told by the crews of the commercial ships, which sailed to the ports of the Azov Sea. Such a case took place on the eve of the 7th of March 2019, to the west of Bilosarai Land Tongue when the captains of the civil ships publicly told the information as they exchanged the information on the radio. They informed that the GPS system did not work, although the Russian navigating system GLONASS functioned without faults. The similar complaints were heard from the seamen on March 5th and February 20th 2019. It was mentioned by them that two RF Navy Ships with codenames BUGELL 66 and BUGELL 029 pulled their combat missions nearby. Perhaps, they had the interference stations.
It is visible that the threats to the navigation safety are created. Is that activity of the RF unlawful? Certainly, it is! That is a gross violation of the international law.
Russia directly ignores Art. 47 of the United Nations Specialized Agency For Information And Communication Technologies that provides the members of the Agency shall take all the measures, which are necessary to prevent transmitting and spreading the false distress calls, emergency flags, safety signals or to recognize the error signals and help with discovering and recognizing the interference stations being under the jurisdiction of their state and transmitting the signals.
The International Association of the Seafaring & Lighthouse Signalization Service Navigational Support issued the Navigational Guide (NAVGUIDE) in order to provide the seafaring. The guide has Chapter 4 The System of the Electron Navigation. In Clause 4.8.1. of the currently mentioned document, the system of the electron navigation shall provide the use of the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS). The GNSS is a common terminology for the satellite system that is able to identify the location, time and the velocity of the object movement anywhere all over the world for a multimodal usage. If the GNSS meets the requirements of Resolution А1046(27) of the International Marine Organization (ІМО) on the World-Wide Radionavigation System, the receivers of the GNSS meet the ІМО standards on the availability of the acquisition equipment on the ships, which are on the list provided in Chapter 5 of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS).
The signals transmitted by the GPS satellites are exclusively difficult for recognition. The GPS system is designed for working in the one-way dimension (only reception), servicing an unlimited quantity of military and civil users, providing the precise and simple distance measurements in the real-time, Doppler shift, carrier phase, transmission, and ionospheric refraction correction. The system can make the simultaneous measurements from many satellites and possess the protection from the interference and admissible way plurality. The official description of the signals is provided in the Interface Control Document ICD-GPS-200 .
The NAVGUIDE provides that the Acquisition Global System NAVSTAR (GPS) has been recognized as a constituent of the WWRNS since 1996. That is why the GPS devices are a sort of navigation equipment. Their correct marine work is protected with the 1988-Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation.
At a time, hereupon, Russia constantly interfere with the work of the GPS devices, work of the commercial and other ships in the waters of the Black and Azov Seas surrounding Crimea. Thus, it makes a gross violation of the international law provisions and creates the formidable risks for the navigation.