Tehran, Iran: Sometime back, Iran had drawn attention of geospatial fraternity by using GPS spoofing technique to guide a US drone (RQ-170 Sentinel) to an intact landing inside hostile territory. Now, it disabled tracking system of aboard its oil tanker fleet, making it difficult to assess how much crude Tehran is exporting as it seeks to counter Western sanctions aimed at cutting its oil revenues, Reuters reported.
A Reuters’ survey of the Iranian fleet via the ship tracking system AIS (Automatic Identification System) Live observed that only seven of its 25 very large crude carriers are still operating on-board transponders, allowing computers to track vessels.
Under normal circumstances, tankers would generally not turn off their tracking systems, which were introduced to improve safety at sea and allow marine authorities to locate vessels.
Ships are obliged by international law to have a satellite tracking device on board when travelling at sea. However, a ships’ master has the discretion to turn off the device on safety grounds with the permission on the vessel’s flag state.
A senior executive at the National Iranian Tanker Co (NITC) explained, “Iran, helped by its customers, is trying to obfuscate as much as possible. And Iran may have countered a reported reduction in its oil sales in March by offering big discounts in the form of free freight, finance and insurance and generous credit terms.”