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MarineTraffic logo.jpg
Type of site
Ship tracking intelligence
Available inEnglish, Spanish, Arabic, Russian, German, French, Greek, Chinese, Norwegian, Dutch and Portuguese
Alexa rank3,680 (April 2019)[1]
Users6 000 000
Current statusOpen

MarineTraffic is a ship tracking and maritime intelligence provider, that allows you to track the movements of any ship in the world.

Powered by data, MarineTraffic is an open, community-based project that offers online ship tracking solutions, data services and mobile apps to leverage global real-time and historical ship positional data.

It has databases of key information on the vessels which includes details of when they were built, the dimensions of the ship, gross tonnage,International Maritime Organisation (IMO) number and more users can submit photographs of the vessels which other users can rate.

Vessel positions can be seen on different layers through the Live Map, including Google Maps (using the Google Maps API) ,[2] Nautical Charts and OpenStreetMap.

The basic MarineTraffic service can be used without cost; more advanced functions are available subject to payment.[3]


MarineTraffic is the brainchild of Dimitris Lekas, a self confessed radio enthusiast, computer geek and ship spotter, who was inspired to create the platform in 2006 when he became aware of AIS and the then recently launched Google maps. MarineTraffic was founded in 2007, having evolved today into the leading provider of ship tracking and maritime intelligence.The company has partnered with three satellite providers to offer the most comprehensive AIS coverage for the global fleet.

How it works[edit]

Data is gathered from more than 3,200 AIS volunteer stations in over 140 countries around the world.[4] Information provided by AIS equipment on board of vessels, such as unique identification, position, course, and speed is then transferred to the main MarineTraffic servers.

The AIS (Automatic Identification System) is an automated tracking system which is extensively used in the maritime world. Thanks to this system, vessel information and positional data can be electronically exchanged between AIS stations.

>AIS (Automatic Identification System)

The AIS-Receiving stations of the MarineTraffic network pick up such data and share it with the MarineTraffic central database.

All vessels equipped with an AIS transponder emit AIS-data which can be received by any AIS-receiving unit provided it is within range. AIS message packets are encoded in NMEA sentences (64-bit plain text). A sample is shown below:


The contents of any incoming NMEA sentence can be decoded. This way, information on the following three basic sections can be deducted:

  1. Dynamic Information, such as the subject vessel’s position, speed, current status, course and rate of turn.
  2. Static Information, such as the subject vessel’s name, IMO number, MMSI number, dimensions.
  3. Voyage-specific Information, such as the subject vessel's destination, ETA and draught.

The central database constantly receives and processes large amounts of AIS-data and stores the most important part of it (together with geographic information on a multitude of ports and areas, vessels' photos and other details). Current positions and/or tracks of vessels are displayed on the MarineTraffic Live Map while Positions History, Vessel Details, Port Conditions and Statistics can be easily found using dedicated web pages on MarineTraffic.

> How do the positions of the vessels get recorded?

The AIS-transmitted information sent by vessels is being picked up by the MarineTraffic network of AIS-receiving stations. All incoming raw data (NMEA feeds) gets processed and decoded by the MarineTraffic central database and is then made available in near real-time on the MarineTraffic website.

> What is the typical range of the AIS?

It depends on various factors. Normally, a terrestrial AIS-receiving station using an external antenna placed 15 metres above sea level, will receive AIS information within a range of 15-20 nautical miles. Stations located at a higher altitude may greatly extend this range.

Products & Services[edit]

MarineTraffic provides technology-based solutions that deliver actionable intelligence to shipping professionals, hobbyists and connects seafarers to their families.

MarineTraffic released the Live Map in 2007. As the website started to grow and gain popularity, MarineTraffic implemented major upgrades in 2013, offering more services than the Live tracking Map. The updates include services such as Notifications and Fleet management. As the company grew and the demands of its users diversified, MarineTraffic distinguished their products in four types: Online Services, Data Services, Mobile Apps and the Business Directory.

Online Services cover the extensive set of tools accessible through the MarineTraffic online platform. Online Services enable the tracking of individual vessels and fleets with the Live Map, through Advanced Filtering, Custom Area mapping and Notification Services.

Data Services are split into two distinct channels; API Data Services and Archive Data. API Data services are designed for on demand access, via machine to machine calls, real-time positional data, static vessel information and historical positions or events. Archive Data are designed for analysis and research, MarineTraffic has been collecting data since 2009.

Mobile Apps consist of two distinct mobile offerings, MarineTraffic and OnCourse. The MarineTraffic app integrates seamlessly with the web services while OnCourse has been built to support boaters and give them with the tools they need to get the most out of their hobby.

Both apps are available through the iOS, Android, Windows and Amazon app stores.

Business Directory: A maritime business directory designed to provide suppliers exposure to buyers as they navigate the web platform. The business directory is growing, currently being  one of the largest online maritime directories.


MarineTraffic is a crowd-sourced business. The MarineTraffic community now consists of more than two million subscribers who are professionals, hobbyists, radio amateurs or AIS Station owners, photographers and translators.

MarineTraffic AIS network of over 3,200 shore-based manned receivers by enthusiasts who share a passion for ships and the maritime ecosystem. More than three million photos have been uploaded by more than 159,000 ship photographers; all images are moderated by a volunteer group of professional maritime photographers, the MarineTraffic Moderators team.


  1. ^ " Traffic Statistics". Retrieved 18 April 2019.
  2. ^ Memos, Demitris (January 20, 2015). "MarineTraffic tracks marine vessels with Google Maps". Official Google for Work Blog. Google. Retrieved 30 October 2015.
  3. ^ "Cautiously Optimistic on MarineTraffic Internet AIS – Sail Magazine". Sail Magazine. Retrieved 2015-10-31.
  4. ^ "Site gives landlubbers trove of information about ships". HamptonRoads. Retrieved 30 October 2015.

External links[edit]