Russia, tankers & GPS

In June, 37,000-tonne tanker vanished from GPS off the Russian coast. All the evidence points to Russia. But what’s really going on?

When a tanker vanishes, all the evidence points to Russia


For Gurvan Le Meur it started out as a regular voyage. In June this year, the captain of the 37,000-tonne Atria tanker directed his ship through the Marmara sea, along the narrow Bosphorus strait, and into the vast Black Sea. It was a straightforward one-and-a-half day journey. But this changed when Le Meur approached the Russian port of Novorossiysk.

Modern ships, including the Atria, are fitted with a complex and integrated set of control and navigation systems. Primarily they feed into the automatic identification system (AIS), which lets them be tracked. Underpinning AIS is the Global Positioning System (GPS), present in everything from mobile phones to satnavs.

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