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Getting a real-time data or statistics on vessels anywhere around the globe is a lot easier with the help of this powerful application – Ship Tracking. 


A Ship Tracking is also recognized as vessel finder, ship locator, vessel tracking or simply, ship tracker. Fundamentally, this system involves the term Automatic Identification System. It provides real-time information regarding the ship movements, current position, and location of watercraft in ports and harbors. To explain further, a Ship Tracking relates to a database of info or facts on every ship’s details. Basically, including where the vessel is built, its dimensions, gross tonnage and IMO number.

Due to the intervention of technology, locating vessels or tracking ships can be shown on a google maps background. Of course, using the Google Maps, Open Street Map, and Nautical Charts. Technically, involving ship tracking or vessel tracking is the so called Automatic Identification System or AIS. It’s an electric or automated tracking scheme primarily used for collision prevention on ships and through vessel traffic services (VTS).



What’s more about AIS or Automatic Identification System?


An Automatic Identification System is an independent tracking structure that is widely used in the maritime industry. Essentially, this is the exchange of navigational data between AIS-established terminals. By able to receive the Automatic Identification System transmissions, various data are actually collected.

Because of its far-reaching role in the marine world, the International Maritime Organization requires all commercial, passenger and over 299GT vessels to carry an AIS transponder. Being on vessel stations, AIS transponder encompasses a GPS or Global Positioning System receiver. This gathers statistics on a ship’s positioning and movements along with other relevant data concerning the ship’s affairs.

Furthermore, the accessibility of the AIS data to public realm expeditiously led to a rapid change of its primary use. The Automatic Identification System is actually developed originally by IMO as a standard. This regulation basically aid vessels in avoiding collisions, at the same time, help port authorities to manage marine traffic effectively. Nevertheless, the fact that its potentialities could be taken advantaged to a broader application in the marine fields soon became clear to understand.



Ship tracking or more technically, AIS has been developed and even enhanced because of its greater contribution to its original purpose, which is collision avoidance.

However, nowadays the utilization of AIS information has been expanded to diverse scopes, enabling to facilitate people’s work in different fields. Just like for example, the AIS data received by VTS is significant for incident investigation in ships, due to any marine casualty.

The reason for this is that a precise historical data on time, GPS-based location, identity, course over ground, compass heading, speed, etc. can be provided. A complete illustration of detailed events can actually be obtained by voyage data recorder data. But, as observed, information gathered by a VDR system is not maintained because of its limited hours of information storage.



Below are just few of the many functions or uses of ship tracking or taking advantage of AIS information/data besides it main purpose:

  • Vessel traffic services
  • Marine security
  • Fishing fleet control and monitoring
  • Tracking fleet and cargo
  • Aids to navigation
  • For search and rescue operation
  • Estimating ocean currents
  • Protecting infrastructure

And even in other fields, ship tracking or AIS information can be of great use for the various work of people in diverse occupations or jobs:

  • Ship owners, builders, and managers
  • Vessel agents, charterers, and brokers
  • Harbor masters and port authorities
  • Pilots and tug operators
  • Search and rescue teams
  • Researchers and data analysts
  • Coastguards and border patrols
  • Passenger and recreational sailors, etc.