How to Locate Ships and Maritime Vessels?

How to Locate vessels in open sea and oceans

Tracking vessels and locating ships is a regular activity these days. Cargo vessels, passenger ships, and fisheries units allow creating safe maritime global traffic. Vessels tracking also reduces accidents and allow us to analyze and predict the movement of ships. Using ships tracking specialists create forecasts based on ships’ live location and trajectory estimations.

Number of ships and vessels started growing fast in 20s century. Therefore since the 80s international organizations decided to start locating ships and create a ship tracker system. tracks ships and stores data about vessel movements. It also makes it available for anyone to access via the Datalastic platform.

How to Locate Ships Live Position Data?

The image on the right explains how to locate ships and Vessels.

  • Vessel exchanges information with GPS satellites for tracking ships.
  • The vessel reports its location and other data to AIS and other satellites.
  • AIS land receiver towers collect data about vessels location, speed, course and more from satellites.
  • Other parties receive the raw data sent by Land receiver stations and process it.
  • Datalastic requests the data. After that, Datalastic saves information about vessel locations, movement, and other related data in the form of API.

Schema how Datalastic obtains data

Vessels exchange information with satellite and terrestrial Automatic Identificational Systems. This maritime data is later processed gathered and analyzed. Datalastic structures this data about ships. After that Datalastic provides an AIS tracking website in a form of API web services. You are able to access the Datalastic database and use the information about tracking ships. Via the Vessels and maritime API key you can easily start your new project.

Datalastic provides access to a vast database with live maritime data, historical data, and future maritime movement predictions to everyone.

Where does Datalastic receive the data from? We will discuss it in detail below.

Locating Ships with Satellite Automatic Identificational System

To improve the locating ship systems, the Automatic Identificational System (AIS) took place. It became a mandatory requirement from maritime vessels to share the information via satellite and terrestrial AIS. Every vessel carries AIS and GPS devices. AIS devise in particular shares AIS live data allowing maritime tracking of vessels traffic and live location access.

Every few seconds AIS equipment automatically broadcasts data signals over VHF radio about ship location. This signal includes details of the vessel name, MMSI Number, time, latitude, longitude, speed, course, etc.

There are more than 150,000 international vessels that locate ships positions and allow maritime ship tracking.

Tracking Ships with Terrestrial Automatic Identificational System

Terrestrial Automatic Identificational system is also used for AIS ship tracking apart from the Satellite data exchange.

Terrestrial ships tracking stations are land-based receivers that exchange data within the line of sight.

Ship-to-shore and shore-to-ship data trade are common in terrestrial AIS. In this way, we can improve maritime safety. It is one of the main tools for locating ships and for accidents and collision avoidance.

Locating Ships with GPS Maritime Tracker

Maritime ship tracking is different from AIS tracking. Global Positioning System (GPS) is a satellite-based navigation system too. Unlike GPS AIS broadcasts on VHF radio waves which travel in straight lines. That factor means that therefore AIS receivers are more sensitive to weather conditions. To compensate and improve it, ships check their locations with GPS and AIS. Then if GPS shows different results about vessel location than AIS GPS locates ships and overwrites location information in the AIS register.

Vessel Monitoring System for Fisheries Tracking

Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) is a satellite-based system for tracking ships. VMS accesses information about fishing boats and vessels requesting their location, speed, and course.

European Union made it compulsory for all the fisheries to comply with VMS. All coastal EU countries must obtain and exchange data between other countries in the European Union on fishing vessel positioning.

Vessel Monitoring System has been an important part of Monitoring, Control, and Surveillance (MSC). VMS helps international rules and law control fisheries, spot illegal activities, and overfishing.

See the schema on the right to understand how the VMS works. Source of the image:

Vessel Monitoring System Schema for tracking fishing vessels