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Ship Tracking

Following Ships moving on Maps around The World


Live Ship-Tracking is something that's very much of interest. There are many reasons you'd want to do this. It might be out of a general curiosity about marine traffic, of a hobbyist fascination, or maybe you would like to keep a track of a particular ship which you have a reason to follow.

When I emigrated from the UK to Panama, my furniture and other worldly possessions were packed into two 40ft shipping containers and these were loaded onto a container ship with numerous other containers and shipped across the Atlantic Ocean. I found out the name of the ship, and so I was able to keep a track of where the ship was during the voyage. Interesting, especially as I have a thermohygrograph onboard.

Now here are some things to bear in mind if you would like to track a ship: Firstly, ship tracking near the coast is done using AIS which is high resolution, but when the ship goes out of range of AIS it will seem to "disappear". Don't worry, because you can still track the ship using VOS. It's in lower resolution, but at least you can track the ship in open ocean. Note that these things are primarily for safety at sea and it's good if everyone helps everyone else.

Here are some useful ship-tracking links...

Marine Traffic - names of ships, locations on a map (in ports, near shore, in coastal waters etc)

Ship Spotting - general shipping interest, information about ships, locations of ships on maps, etc

www.sailwx.info - open-ocean wide-range views of ship locations. Very good for when you're tracking a ship across the ocean.

There are many others, some at specific locations, and some globally. Most are free for all, and some expect you to "register" to see the maps. I haven't registered. The places I've linked to are freely available.

To track a ship, you need to know the name of the ship, or the callsign, or a marine code number. Generally the name of the ship is easiest to find. People generally know the name of the ship that they, or their stuff, will be on.

You can track ocean liners, cruise ships, freight cargo vessels and container ships, battleships, yachts, tall ships, and generally any seagoing vessel which has modern navigation telemetry.

Try not to worry if you spot your ship seems occasionally to report huge waves or freak weather conditions. You can verify or discount this by looking at global satellite pictures, so see what the prevailing weather is.

With such matters as folk taking an interest in marine tracking, it's important to avoid getting in the way of seafaring business. Ships' captains have important things to deal with, and they don't want us Internet folk to pester them. So, for the sakes of good relations at sea and to keep ship tracking something that's freely available, let's keep the peace.