Hundreds of suspicious ships sail Dutch waters unchecked: Report

Every month hundreds of suspicious seafaring ships enter Dutch waters without being checked, AD reports based ona data analysis made by maritime information company Winward. The ships change their identification numbers or turn off their GPS systems to hide which ports they came from, according to the newspaper.

"Such actions can be an indication of illegal activity", Ami Daniel, director of Winward, said to the newspaper. 

The analysis revealed that over the past two months at least 75 seafaring ships that docked in Dutch ports had changed registration numbers. And over 480 ships entered Dutch waters while their GPS was turned off for more than one day before. Several of these ships turned off their GPS on the Mediterranean sea. According to AD, they could be hiding a visit to Libya, where terrorist organization ISIS is active and from where many asylum seekers try to reach Europe. This may indicate involvement in smuggling of drugs, people or weapons, the newspaper writes.

According to Daniel, there is no reasonable explanation for a ship to turn of its GPS system. "Insurance companies demand that it remain on, especially on the busy Mediterranean." 

In Dutch ports ships are asked to report which ports they last docked in, but the GPS data is not checked, according to AD. 

According to a spokesperson for the Dutch Coast Guard, this phenomenon has the guards' attention. "A turned off GPS could be a (meteorological) fault, but unfortunately we can not rule out malicious motives", he said to the newspaper. 

The National Coordinator for Counterterrorism and Security told AD that he "recognizes the problem". Though it is not included in the quarterly threat report.