Dark Shipping detection

Uncover suspicious vessel behavior,
worldwide and in real-time

Spire's latest Dark Shipping detection solution goes beyond AIS in order to track vessels that operate in the dark by spoofing or manipulating their reported position.

By utilizing our satellite constellation and experience with radio frequency doppler shift, Spire Maritime is the first to deliver a near real-time, global AIS message position validation service.

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How can Dark Shipping detection be used?

Avoid sanctions evasion

Sanctions evasion tactics comprise everything from dark ship-to-ship (STS) transfers at sea to unmonitored and unreported port calls for illicit trade - most often involving oil, liquified natural gas (LNG), and military equipment.

Detect illegal fishing

IUU fishing activities violate national and international law, threaten food security, undermine conservation efforts, and put legally operating and sustainable fisheries at an economic disadvantage.

Fight human trafficking

Human trafficking networks facilitate migrant smuggling, forced or low-wage labor, terrorist activities, and much more.

Monitor environmental impact

Dark shipping wreaks havoc on marine ecosystems, natural resources, and biological populations - affecting everything from conservation efforts to migration patterns of marine animals.

Protect your borders

Dark shipping can threaten thousands of miles of coastlines that need ongoing monitoring, defense, and protection.


This vessel is spoofing its location. This means that it is actually transmitting GPS positions that do not correspond to its actual position and voyage.

The red track in the map represents the spoofed voyage, whereas the green track represents the real voyage made, which the ship's operators tried to conceal.

Typically this is done in order not to disclose voyages that could have negative consequences to the ship owner or manager, such as trips to sanctioned countries.

Dark vessel: On The Move

This vessel has disconnected its GPS from the AIS transponder in order to conceal a number of possible nefarious activities like illegal fishing or illegal trading, loading or unloading of cargo.

If a sequence of AIS messages reports a stationary position for a vessel, but our estimated positions indicate a vessel is actually moving / underway, we can flag these vessels.

Dark Shipping detection case studies

Tracking sanctioned Russian oligarchs' ships

In the sequence of the Ukraine/Russia conflict many Russian oligarchs have been hit by sanctions, leading them to move assets around the world in order to avoid inpounding by Western governments. One of the biggest challenges was tracking these ships once they turned off their AIS transponders - which many of them did.

Spire Maritime's Dark Shipping detection offers ways to go beyond AIS tracking, allowing governments to track individuals avoiding sanctions.

Bloomberg article on sanctioned yachts

Dark vessels illegally exporting grain out of occupied Ukraine

Various media outlets have reported on several cargo vessels, which were not transmitting AIS signals, loading grain in various ports in occupied Ukraine, then exporting them to a number of countries - some of them under sanctions by multiple Western governments.

Spire Maritime's Dark Shipping detection can help follow the track of these vessels once they turn off their AIS signal intentionally, providing more transparency into this type of illegal behavior.

Bloomberg artucle on illegal grain exports

Geollect position validation report on Dark Shipping detection

Geollect, the UK's leader in geospatial intelligence technologies, helps public and private entities like the Royal Navy, Ministry of Defense, & the London P&I with Maritime domain awareness.

The following report outlines how Geollect independently validated a spoofing event identified by Spire's Dark Shipping capabilities.

Geollect report on Dark Shipping detection

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