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post #1 of 52 Old 03-23-2015 Thread Starter
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AIS phantom ship

Yesterday we were sailing near Angel Island, when I looked at the plotter screen, and saw an AIS target moving fast, close, and on collision course (plotter shows a dotted line of projected course for AIS targets, the length of which relates to speed).

I looked in the direction of the target, and there was nothing there. No boats at all, not for miles. The target on the screen got closer and closer, until it passed straight through us - then vanished.

If this had been a foggy day, this would have quite freaked me out. Thankfully it was a nice sunny day.

Has this glitch been heard of before, or have we witnessed the first AIS ghost ship?

I wish I had had the presence of mind to select the target and see what the name of the vessel was.

Bristol 31.1, San Francisco Bay
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post #2 of 52 Old 03-23-2015
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Re: AIS phantom ship

Submarine ?
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post #3 of 52 Old 03-23-2015 Thread Starter
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Re: AIS phantom ship

If it was a submarine, it crashed quite hard into Angel Island, unless it made a very sharp turn. How would a submarine transmit AIS without a antenna above the water?

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post #4 of 52 Old 03-23-2015
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Re: AIS phantom ship

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Submarine ?
Extremely unlikely. If Mark did not notice it while it was passing 'through him' it would have been deep enough to prevent VHF radio to get to the surface (not that I think a sub would transmit VHF under water).

Could it be some spoofer? There is no reason why the AIS signals must correspond to a physical object. E.g. Virtual Aids to Navigation (VAtoN). It could not be too hard to 'simulate' anything that you want on the radio waves.
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post #5 of 52 Old 03-23-2015
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Re: AIS phantom ship

Please, DO report the incident to the USCG and DHS .... time, place, etc. If you have an electronic log of the phantom AIS, all the better.
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post #6 of 52 Old 03-23-2015
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Re: AIS phantom ship

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Originally Posted by MarkSF View Post
Yesterday we were sailing near Angel Island, when I looked at the plotter screen, and saw an AIS target moving fast, close, and on collision course (plotter shows a dotted line of projected course for AIS targets, the length of which relates to speed).

I looked in the direction of the target, and there was nothing there. No boats at all, not for miles. The target on the screen got closer and closer, until it passed straight through us - then vanished.

If this had been a foggy day, this would have quite freaked me out. Thankfully it was a nice sunny day.

Has this glitch been heard of before, or have we witnessed the first AIS ghost ship?
AIS transmitters send out the position they are given by the navigation network, almost always from a GPS receiver. The information doesn't have to be true to be transmitted. This is how synthetic and vitual AToNs work.

In your case it could be any of a failing GPS receiver on a ship, possibly one of the DoD tests (likelihood depending on where you are), or someone purposely spoofing a ship location.

Regardless you won't be the first.

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Re: AIS phantom ship

Some prankster screwing around with a drone?

But the web sites all showing AIS info, surely some of them are also archiving it. The USCG probably will be very interested in this, and if they aren't...CC the Commandant's Office anyway. There's a genuine DHS concern here.
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post #8 of 52 Old 03-23-2015
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Re: AIS phantom ship

What about an aircraft? Possible signal from an airplane transponder?
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post #9 of 52 Old 03-23-2015
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Re: AIS phantom ship

Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
Some prankster screwing around with a drone?
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Originally Posted by kwaltersmi View Post
What about an aircraft? Possible signal from an airplane transponder?
All three are extremely unlikely. Even in the unlikely event that the "ghost ship" was intentional (technically not hard but generally above the script kiddie level of pranking) there is no reason to go to the effort of a drone or other aircraft. Anyone with the technical capacity could generate such an AIS product with much cheaper means with a much lower probability of getting caught.

Frankly it isn't hard. It just requires some multi-disciplinary technical knowledge and engineering discipline. Hopefully anyone with those capabilities (and I can think of a small handful just here on SailNet) has the ethics to behave. No - I won't give anyone a step-by-step guide.

I think the more likely explanation is a GPS failure. The ship in question will deal with it in due course as will be clear to them that they are not where their GPS tells them they are.

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post #10 of 52 Old 03-23-2015
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Re: AIS phantom ship


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