News Item

GPS jamming suspended

Jamming of GPS during a large military exercise has been suspended following complaints from fishermen.

The Royal Navy had issued warnings in September and October that GPS in parts of Scotland would be disrupted during the NATO Exercise 'Joint Warrior'.

But Western Isles fishermen claim that the first they knew of it was when their satnavs failed on 7 October.

Joint Warrior is held twice a year - and jamming of GPS during the previous exercise in April is reported to have drawn no complaints.

The Royal Navy stressed that all appropriate actions were taken to warn of the disruption during this exercise, including a guide to fishing vessels, ferry operators and environmentalists - giving locations and timings of the jamming - issued on 7 September.

And the Scottish government confirmed that it received the guide and put it on its website. A further warning notice (NAVWARN 269) was also issued on 3 October, and Aberdeen and Stornoway Coastguards have been transmitting regular warning broadcasts on VHF.

But the skipper of a local fishing boat claimed that crews knew nothing of the jamming until their system failed, claiming that they were not notified at all - 'We thought it was a problem with our boat but everyone else started complaining about it. The Coastguards were giving out warnings today but it still shouldn't be happening. We are losing earnings over it until the exercise finishes. It is putting boats at risk.'

The local authority has claimed that the jamming had also affected internet connectivity, mobile phones and satellite TV. And the local Member of the Scottish Parliament has claimed that MoD had compromised the safety of fishing boat crews.

So NATO has suspended the jamming '...in order to be absolutely clear that there are no genuine safety concerns to address...this will provide a period of time to reflect with all the relevant authorities about the conduct of GPS jamming and ensure that all parties are fully aware before the beginning of the next exercise, which is scheduled for spring 2012.'

Exercise Joint Warrior runs until 17 October and involves NATO ships, aircraft and ground troops.

Details from the BBC below.

  • 11 October 2011
  • MTNG

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