What is dual transmission?
Dual transmission in the maritime industry refers to the use of multiple AIS transmitters on board a single vessel transmitting different entities with separate IMOs. This is typically used by bad actors to spoof their real location, while participating in illicit activities or deceptive shipping practices.
Dual transmission is an illegal practice used by bad actors to hide their true locations. Instead of using a single vessel AIS transmitter, a second one is installed and programmed to send out false data about the ship’s location. While being used to try and deceive the coast guard or local authorities, it can also endanger the safety of the crew and the vessel. Additionally, this practice can cause collisions with other ships in the area that are not aware of the vessel that is misrepresenting its location.
Why bad actors use dual transmission
The use of multiple AIS transmitters is one of the newer tricks when it comes to deceptive shipping practices. There are many different reasons a ship would want to hide in plain sight, and nearly all of them are illegal or unethical:
- Illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing: whether it’s the fishing vessel or the refrigerated ship (reefer) working with the smaller fishing vessel, by using a tactic like dual transmission, they can avoid detection.
- Docking in a country with sanctions violations: ships that dock in certain countries, such as Iran or Russia, can be subject to sanctions. With dual transmission, they can avoid fines or increased scrutiny.
- Avoid detection in restricted areas: there are some areas that are restricted, whether due to local regulations, environmental concerns, or fear of damaging maritime life, where large vessels can’t go. Dual transmission will allow them access to these zones undetected.
- Hiding or disguising the ship’s identity: a ship may want to hide its true origin or destination. Dual transmission allows them to spoof all this data, so that they appear legitimate.
Avoid inadvertently working with ships that have a dual transmission setup
The maritime detection game (along with the terminology and technology) is drastically different than it was just a few years back. Disabling the AIS (“going dark”) still occurs often, but bad actors are now more sophisticated and understand that vessels worth millions are too expensive to risk going dark for a single transaction. Instead of trying to conceal vessel behavior, many bad actors have changed direction. But at what cost?
Shipping cargo on a vessel that employs a dual transmission system could result in sanctions and fines for all parties involved. It is a company’s responsibility to conduct enhanced due diligence to uncover any maritime risks, or illicit activities.
A Maritime AI™-powered solution is the best way to run a comprehensive check on the vessel. Proactively mitigate sanctions compliance risk, and identify violations before designations occur, with real-time insights and 75% less false positives. Additionally, understand the hierarchy of the ship’s seven levels of ownership, including the unique beneficial owner (UBO), and if there is an individual or entity on the SDN list.
Instead of trying to conceal deceptive shipping practices, many bad actors now seek to reap the benefit of illegal activities, while projecting a veil of “business as usual.” The more sophisticated bad actors are becoming, the more important it is for businesses to be on top of their due diligence strategy.