Seamen Baffled as Ships Sail in Circles

Seamen Baffled as Ships Sail in Circles

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SkyNews reported that in the early hours of Sunday 31 May, officers aboard the oil tanker Willowy were told that their ship and four others in its vicinity were sailing in circles. Despite the crew's best efforts, they were unable to steer and were on course to converge.


The first guess of the seamen was that strong currents were pushing the vessels, but there were no such currents present.

Mysterious ships that appear to sail in circles have become an increasingly common concern near a number of ports on the coast of China. However, this was the first time it was witnessed where the Willowy was.

Researchers believe these phenomenons are probably the result of GPS manipulation engineered to undermine a tracking system known as the AIS (automated identification system).

This technology communicates unique identifiers from each vessel to other nearby ships. These signals are even monitored by satellites to track suspicious behavior.

Phil Diacon, the chief executive of marine intelligence firm Dryad Global, told SkyNews the circles near the Chinese coast had been attributed to GPS interference coinciding with U.S. sanctions on Iran.

But the truth may actually be more complex. Data collected by environmental groups SkyTruth and Global Fishing Watch revealed circling incidents as far inland as near San Francisco.

SkyTruth found the circling ships were again near oil terminals or in locations where GPS disruption had been reported before. Except for in the case of Willowy.

As such, there began to be suggestions that GPS jamming was being used by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. But the European Space Agency stepped in and detected something far less sinister.

The Earth's magnetic field has lost almost 10% of its strength over the last two centuries and is growing particularly weak in a large region stretching from Africa to South America. There it is impacting satellites and spacecraft. And worse of all, no one knows why.

One guess is that the Earth is heading for a pole reversal. If so, this flip will happen very slowly over the course of a couple of centuries during which there would be multiple north and south magnetic poles all around the globe.

Luckily for the Willowy, today's ships use something called a gyrocompass, a tool that finds true north as a definition of gravity and the axis of the Earth's rotation rather than the magnetic north.

After a careful investigation, the crew discovered that the ship's primary gyrocompass was malfunctioning. The ship then resumed its course safely and correctly simply by switching to the secondary gyrocompass.

So how about all the rest of the theories? Are they possibly true or creations of wild imaginations?

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