Ship Tracker


Everything You Need to Know about Ship Tracking

Ship tracking, also known as vessel tracking, is the ability to identify, track, and monitor a ship’s position in transit. It can be used by businesses, ports, and even governments for various reasons. However, the most common one is to keep track of the ships in the fleet. But how does a ship tracker work? Here is all you need to know about these ship tracker systems.

High-tech, interactive digital map for ship tracking

What is Ship Tracking?

As mentioned above, ship tracking involves identifying and monitoring a ship’s or vessel’s movement. The system checks the movement of commercial ships, smaller craft, and even marine vessels as required. This system uses various equipment and technologies to identify the real-time positioning of vessels on the ship tracker map. Just think of it in the context of your car. You will know where your ship is and its conditions at any time!

The Importance of Ship Tracking in the Modern World

A good quality ship tracker system has many benefits for the involved parties. These include the coast guards, port operators, logistics providers, and marine contractors. Let’s look at a few of them:

Enhanced Safety and Security

With the ship tracker systems, the authorities and maritime organisations can effectively monitor the vessel’s movement and location. This enhances the safety at sea as it helps avoid collisions and unauthorised activities.

Some ship tracker systems have enhanced technology that allows surveillance of all the ships in the fleet, especially when different factors are involved. They work to improve emergency response and rescue operations in the case of incidents. With real-time monitoring, you catch issues faster and in good time, thus saving lives and assets.

Better Navigation and Routing

Like roads, vessels sailing on water require comprehensive visibility. This can be quite difficult when the weather constantly changes in the deep waters. With the ship tracker and monitoring systems, the crew and captains get real-time information on their positions and routes. The ship tracker live system enhances the journey’s navigation while avoiding problems such as storms and shallow waters.

Additionally, in areas that are clear of hazards, the vessels can optimise their speed and routing to ensure they get to the port at the expected time. With a cargo ship tracker or cruise ship tracker system, it becomes easier to steer away from trouble.

Streamlined Maritime Operations and Logistics

Ship tracking and monitoring are indispensable in enforcing maritime regulations. The live ship tracker ensures compliance with international regulations and laws from governments and bodies such as the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The IMO has stipulated trade, environment, fishing, and security standards. With the ideal ship tracker systems, you comply with the set regulations and avoid legal complications that could arise.

Understanding How Global Positioning System (GPS) and Automatic Identification System (AIS) Work in Ship Tracking

There are various technologies and ship tracker systems. The most common and effective ones are GPS and AIS. Here is how they work.


The Global Positioning System (GPS) is normally integrated into ship tracker systems. The GPS receivers use a minimum of 3 to 24 network satellites to triangulate a user’s location. In marine equipment, it is converted into two display dimensions that are overlaid on electronic charts.

These signals travel at the speed of light and are received by the GPS receivers on ships and other vessels nearby. With the analysis of the time it takes to get to the receivers from the different satellites, the system can determine the precise positioning on Mother Earth’s surface. It is more like how we use GPS on the ground for directions.


The Automatic Identification System, commonly abbreviated as AIS, is meant to allow ships and coastal stations to locate and identify each other accurately. The AIS ship tracker system uses VHF radio and GPS technology to communicate with the nearby vessels.

Once the signals are sent over, they are received by shore-based AIS receivers and satellites. In every six minutes, they transmit information such as:

  • Vessel name
  • Type of vessel
  • Current coordinates
  • Course over ground
  • Vessel’s dimensions
  • Navigational status
  • Heading
  • Bearings
  • Port call
  • Distance to the closest point of approach
  • Time stamps

How to Collect, Transmit, and Process Data in Ship Tracking

In marine traffic, data is crucial for all ships at sea. Whether it is a tanker, naval ship, container, or passenger, getting the data on each vessel ensures safety and efficiency in vessel traffic.

Since each ship or vessel is fitted with AIS transmitters and ship tracker app systems, the information relays easily from one to another. The data is divided into three categories: static, dynamic, and voyage information.

The static information is transmitted every six minutes and mostly surrounds the vessel’s identity. On the other hand, the dynamic information focuses on positioning and navigation. It is transmitted depending on the speed and alteration, of course. The third category of information is also transmitted every 6 minutes, including the type of cargo aboard, the destination, the route plan, and the estimated arrival time. It is in this category you will also find all the safety-related information.

The data is then exchanged with shore-based facilities for analysis and processing. Besides helping ships navigate the waters, the data plays a vital role in marine protection and maritime security.

How Ship Tracking Improves Maritime Safety

As mentioned above, ship tracking is crucial to marine protection and safety. The real-time data prevents collisions and getting off course. It is the navigation aids that help all the stakeholders know where the vessel is, its condition, and the expected time of arrival.

The Role of Ship Tracking in Managing Global Supply Chains and Logistics

All stakeholders require accurate and reliable data for effective logistics and maritime operations. Shipping lines need to know the precise conditions of the entire fleet. It helps them schedule maintenance teams before the ship docks at the port. The information collected also helps curb unforeseen delays and enhance logistics.

On the other hand, shippers need the information for proper resource allocation and preparation of the container yards and warehouses. It ensures that the port operations do not stall at any given time. All this information helps the stakeholders proactively foster a smooth flow when the ship arrives on the site.

How Ship Tracking Helps in Monitoring Environmental Factors

The oceans and the world’s waters have been deteriorating over time. This has caused a decline in the living flora, fauna, and other aquatic species. As a result, maritime authorities have protected some areas. With tracking and data found on the AIS, the authorities can issue breach alerts to the geo-fenced areas and identify those breaking the law. It makes it easy to protect the marine environment as the world tries to redeem itself.

Technical Limitations and Challenges in Ship Tracking

Like everything else, there are two sides to maritime tracking. While the data is helpful, it has a few technical limitations. Here are a few of them.

  • The accuracy received is only as excellent as the AIS used
  • The AIS can transmit incorrect information from another ship
  • Not all the ships are fitted with AIS systems
  • The position received via the AIS display is not always referenced to the WGS 84 (a standard coordinate system by the World Geodetic System)

New Technologies and Innovations in Ship Tracking

The internet age has revolutionised how we do things, including ship and maritime tracking. One of the recently adopted things is connectivity with 5G technology. The connectivity facilitates smooth and continuous communication between the vessels. Additional parameters such as temperature, pressure, and humidity can be effectively measured.

The GPS technology has been integrated with geolocation and geofencing capabilities to set and send virtual boundaries. It enhances security and prevents unauthorised access or even theft.

With the enhancement in artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms, processing maritime data has made it even easier to identify patterns and anticipate potential delays and disruptions or problems with the shipment. These big data analytics and ship tracker systems have made all the difference.

As you can see, marine traffic hugely benefits from the ship tracker systems. They are indispensable at sea ports and in transit or the voyage. Besides enhancing communication, the ship tracker systems foster safety and security for all involved. These systems are easy to use and ensure that all the vessels comply with the required maritime standards.