Have you ever wondered if there's a way to find out where a ship is located? There are many times when you might be curious about the location of a cruise ship or other vessel. The most practical situation that comes to mind is when hearing about inclement weather or some other natural disaster. Are there any ships in danger?
How vessel positions are recorded
The system is based on AIS (Automatic Identification System). Since December 2004, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) requires all vessels over 299GT to carry an AIS transponder on board, which transmits their position, speed and course, among some other static information, such as vessel’s name, dimensions and voyage details.
The chart above is a live interactive map generated by MarineTraffic.com, an academic, open, community-based project. It is dedicated to collecting and presenting data which are exploited in research areas such as simulation of vessel movements in order to contribute to the safety of navigation and to cope with critical incidents.
More about AIS
AIS is initially intended to help ships avoid collisions, as well as assisting port authorities to better control sea traffic. AIS transponders on board vessels include a GPS (Global Positioning System) receiver, which collects position and movement details. It includes also a VHF transmitter, which transmits periodically this information on two VHF channels (frequencies 161.975 MHz and 162.025 MHz – old VHF channels 87 & 88) and make this data available to the public domain. Other vessels or base stations are able to receive this information, process it using special software and display vessels locations on a chart plotter or on a computer.