Marine Traffic

Ship tracking with marine radar from Marine Traffic


There is still no ferry in sight. Also, the employees of the company have no idea when the ferry will arrive. The passenger is nervous, insecure and sometimes annoyed by the fact that they do not get relevant information.

Should the passenger still have a coffee or stay close by?

One way is to look at On this portal, all ships can be identified and tracked, provided that they have a certain size.

If the user clicks on the corresponding icon, he receives information about the country flag, the type of ship, the status, the current speed, the course, the length and width, the draft and also about the destination port. On there are also numerous pictures of the ships that can be uploaded by the users.


The system behind

Users receive this special data and information thanks to the “Automatic Identification System” (AIS) or the “Universal Automatic Identification System” (UAIS).

The automatic identification systems are radio systems that exchange navigation and other vessel data, so in recent years there has been an improvement in the safety and management of shipping.

On 6 December 2000, identification systems were adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) as the standard. The “International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea” (SOLAS) also includes the compulsory equipment of all ships engaged in international travel.

Since January 2004, all commercial vessels over 300 BRZin and since July 2008, all over 500 GT are obliged to have installed an AIS system.

Even ships that have more than 50 passengers and are longer than 20 meters must have an AIS on-board unit. Excluded are only warships. For traditional ships there are national exemptions. The SOLAS rules do not apply to inland waterway vessels; Here, the national or EU rules must be observed.


What data is transmitted to Marine Traffic?

The AIS reports a large amount of data that is received by the receiving devices, which must be in range, and subsequently evaluated. The data includes:

  • Static vessel data (ship name, IMO number, MMSI number, call sign, ship type
  • Dimensions of the vessel (distance of the GPS antenna from stern, bow, starboard and port side)
  • Dynamic ship data (navigation status)
  • Ship position (LAT, LON)
  • Time of ship position (measured in seconds)
  • Course over reason
  • Speed over ground
  • Course change rate
  • advance registration

Furthermore, the travel dates are also transmitted. These include the destination, the estimated time of arrival and the number of people on board. The Inland AIS also presents further data:

  • ENI ship number
  • Dangerous goods class of the cargo
  • Association data (length, width, genus ERI)
  • draft
  • Fairway side right / left
  • loading condition
  • Maximum height above water

It should be noted that, of course, not all data is always available. Especially in recreational boating, it often happens that only the name of the ship, the position, the course, MMSI and the size of the ship are broadcast.

In order for the data to be subsequently evaluated, an AIS receiving station must be located nearby. If no receiver is available, the transmitted data can not be received and then not forwarded.

Thus, only AIS ships can be tracked, which are located near the coast. Even low-flying satellites (“LEO” – Low Earth Orbit) can receive and forward the data., a commercial service, is – according to its own statements – the very first AIS provider to combine terrestrial AIS positions with its satellite positions. Thus, the users can also track ships that are on the high seas.


The user can become part of the system

If the user lives close to the water, he can install an AIS station and subsequently become part of the system. The user can use the station, at least with luck, for free from the page ( Respectively. If the user owns a boat or boat, he can also equip this with the transmitter and transmit his data via an app.

The app is available for Android and iOS devices. Furthermore, there are commercial services, such as FleetMon (, by be used (, Thus, all ships can be tracked, which are located in the Hamburg area. The tracking is possible around the clock – in real time.