The UK believes AIS spoofers have manipulated vessel tracks to produce a giant Russian pro-war Z symbol in the Black Sea.
Data provided by Geollect has shown the symbol off the coast of Sevastopol since 14 May.
The remote spoofing has created a Z measuring 65 km in length, visible on open-source tracking software.
The UK Ministry of Defence said tracks making up the image suggested ridiculous ship speeds of 102 knots (188 km per hour), further suggesting it is a fake.
Steaming at these rates would certainly play havoc with shipowners’ Carbon Intensity Indicator ratings.
“Pro-Russian actors likely conducted the spoofing as an information operation, as an attempt to bolster Russian morale ahead of an anticipated Ukrainian counter-offensive,” the ministry added.
And it warned: “The spoofing of AIS increases the risk of maritime accidents.”
Despite Russian virtual information operations in the Black Sea, its physical navy remains vulnerable, the UK believes.
The Ivan Khurs intelligence-gathering vessel was reportedly attacked on Wednesday.
One Twitter user reacted to the UK’s posts by saying he mistook the symbol for the Zorro “Z” sword slash.
Another said it all depended on perspective and maybe the Z was in fact an N and meant something totally different.