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Mysterious GPS signals reveal GHOST SHIPS sailing in wide circles off the coast of San Francisco, despite tracking data saying they should actually be thousands of miles away

Bjorn Bergman, who works for SkyTruth and Global Fishing Watch, observed strange GPS signals showing ships off the coast of San Francisco traveling in circular patterns, despite other data saying the ships were actually located halfway around the world

  • A watchdog group noticed some strange GPS signals near San Francisco
  • Nine ships appeared to be traveling in circular patterns off the coastline
  • The ships weren't actually in the water and other data showed them having recently been thousands of miles away, in Nigeria, the Suez Canal, or Norway
  • Some experts say GPS spoofing devices are used to mask their real location  

Ghost ships appear to be sailing in large circles off the coast of San Francisco, giving off GPS signals without the boats actually being anywhere near the area.

The mysterious phenomenon was first noticed by Bjorn Bergman, who works for the environmental watchdog groups SkyTruth and Global Fishing Watch, which track the movements of commercial ships across the world's oceans.

Bergman identified signals from nine ships, all of which seemed to be moving in circular tracks in the waters off Point Reyes, just north of San Francisco--and some tracks even showed the ships crossing onto dry land.

 Strangely, none of the ships emitting signals from the area were anywhere close to the California coastline, according to other recent data on their journeys.

 According to a report in Newsweek, the signals came from ships that had recently been tracked in Norway, Malaysia, Nigeria, the Sea of Azov (between Russia and Ukraine), and the Suez Canal.

Almost all ships are legally required to use an automatic identification systems (AIS) to track their location to help avoid collisions with other ships and ensure international laws are observed.
According to Bergman, there are a number of possible explanations, but no clear answer as to what's causing the strange phenomenon.

Bergman suggested it could be related to a US Coast Guard site on Point Reyes, tha that been operational until 2015.

'One thing that could be plausible is that it's acting as a zero location because of the importance of this spot in developing maritime navigation systems,' Bergman told Newsweek.
'So if [a ship's] reception is blocked for whatever reason they're appearing there.'

 Experts still debate the cause of the strange circular patterns. The University of Texas at Austin's Todd Humphreys says it's likely the signals were a result of GPS spoofing devices used specifically to mask the real location of the vessels.

Other data about the ships sending out the GPS signals showed there was no way for any of them to have been near San Francisco, with some having been in Nigeria, Malaysia, the Suez Cana, and Norway

A likelier explanation, according to Todd Humphreys, an associate professor of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics at the University of Texas at Austin, is that the ships are using GPS spoofing devices to trick the AIS system and mask their real location.

Humphreys told Newsweek, that the circular patterns are similar to those produced by 'off-the-shelf spoofing devices' that are commonly used to trick GPS systems.

'We know it's GPS spoofing because we also see it in the data from exercise apps,' Humphreys told Newsweek.

'Usually the false location is near the true one, but in other cases it's half a world away, like Point Reyes for a ship off the coast of Africa.'

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