methanol shipping, Track a Cargo Ship in Real-Time maritime education

How to track a cargo ship in real-time

How to Track a Cargo Ship in Real-Time. In an era of advanced technology, tracking a cargo ship in real-time has become more accessible than ever before. Whether you’re a shipper, a maritime enthusiast, or just curious about the whereabouts of a specific vessel, real-time ship tracking can provide valuable information. In this article, we will explore the various methods and tools available for tracking cargo ships in real-time.

How to track a cargo ship in real-time

1. Automatic Identification System (AIS)

The Automatic Identification System (AIS) is a global tracking system used by vessels to broadcast their positions, course, speed, and other essential information. AIS signals are transmitted via VHF radio signals and can be received by coastal stations, satellites, and other ships equipped with AIS receivers. To track a cargo ship in real-time using AIS:

– Websites and Apps: Numerous websites and mobile apps, such as MarineTraffic, VesselFinder, and Ship Finder, provide real-time ship tracking services. Simply enter the vessel’s name or its unique Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) or IMO number to locate it on the map.

– AIS Receivers: Some AIS enthusiasts use dedicated AIS receivers to capture AIS signals and track ships in their vicinity. These receivers are connected to a computer or smartphone, allowing users to visualize ship positions in real-time.

2. Maritime Satellite Tracking

Satellite-based tracking systems offer a more extensive coverage area, making them suitable for tracking cargo ships in remote or open ocean areas. Two primary satellite systems for maritime tracking are:

– COSPAS-SARSAT: This system is primarily used for search and rescue operations but can also provide real-time ship tracking capabilities. It relies on distress beacons onboard vessels that transmit their GPS coordinates to satellites. While not designed for ship tracking, this system can help locate distressed vessels.

– Global Positioning System (GPS): Some cargo ships are equipped with GPS transponders that allow them to transmit their positions to satellite networks. Tracking services like SkyWave and Orbcomm offer real-time ship tracking solutions using GPS-based satellite communication.

3. Vessel Tracking Apps and Websites

Numerous websites and mobile apps dedicated to ship tracking provide real-time vessel positions, routes, and other relevant information. Some of the popular platforms for tracking cargo ships include:

MarineTraffic: This website and mobile app offer real-time vessel tracking, port information, and historical data. Users can search for ships by name, MMSI number, or IMO number.

VesselFinder: VesselFinder provides a user-friendly interface for tracking ships in real-time. It offers information about ship routes, speed, and more.

ShipSpotting: While primarily a platform for sharing ship photos, ShipSpotting also provides real-time ship tracking capabilities through its AIS-based system.

4. Shipping Company Websites

Many shipping companies have their tracking portals on their websites. If you have the name of the shipping company responsible for a specific cargo ship, visit their website and look for a tracking or vessel search feature.

5. Government and Port Authority Websites

Some government agencies and port authorities offer vessel tracking services on their websites. These platforms may provide additional information about a ship’s arrival and departure times, cargo, and port of call.


Tracking a cargo ship in real-time has never been easier, thanks to modern technology and the availability of various tracking tools and platforms. Whether you are a maritime professional, a ship enthusiast, or a concerned party looking to monitor cargo shipments, the methods mentioned above can help you stay informed about the whereabouts and status of vessels as they navigate the world’s oceans. Remember to use reliable and trusted sources for real-time ship tracking to ensure accurate and up-to-date information.

MG Staff
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