Category "Maritime Knowledge"

Dark Ships: Beyond the Eyes of the World

in News, Maritime Knowledge by

In the vast ocean, the Automatic Identification System (AIS) provides the identification of the ships. Under AIS, there are transceivers installed on ships that provide information such as unique identification of vessel, speed, course, position, true bearing, radio call sign, ETA, etc. on the electronic chart display and information system (ECDIS). This set of information is used to track ships and monitor their movement for better navigation, avoiding collision, grounding, managing traffic in congested areas, and even identifying ships in distress.

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10 Things You Should Know About AIS If You Are In the Shipping Industry

in Maritime Knowledge by

In the age of ultrafast communication and GPS, it is hard to imagine that sailors once relied on the sky (i.e. constellations) to navigate their vessels in the high seas. However, not every sailor was a Viking, and this led to high chances of the ship landing somewhere it is not supposed to be (read: Christopher Columbus).

Fast forward to the 21st century, and we can do nothing but look back in awe at all the challenges sailors used to face back in the days. Since the 1990s, navigation in itself and shipping at large have undergone sea changes, thanks to the rampant evolution in AIS tech.

Now, humans have the rightful luxury of tracking their fleets on the seven seas with the help of a single click in real-time.

What was initially developed to function as a simple collision avoidance tool has now spiraled to form the heartbeat of global ship navigation? Yes, it is the Automatic Identification System (AIS) that we are talking about.

Currently, over half a million vessels actively use AIS for transmitting vessel data (mainly their location), which then gets collected by a receiver network deployed across the globe. FleetMon alone has a humongous database of over half a million vessels with users across 164 countries using FleetMon.com to track vessel movement.

Gone are the days when AIS used to be a tool for accident prevention. It is now a proven source of information for a wide variety of individuals ranging from maritime businesses that leverage its data to predict their growth, to researchers and analysts monitoring the supply chain.

As such, it is ever more important to know about AIS, at least the basics of it. The blog has been engineered for the same purpose, covering the 10 most important points about AIS and how you could benefit from it.

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How to Drive Business Intelligence With AIS Vessel Tracking Data

in Trends, Maritime Knowledge by

Navigation in itself is a multi-century old phenomenon, which has been there since mankind discovered what they could do with a piece of wood. However, modern ship navigation has experienced a lot of changes, and subsequent ‘rebirths’, over the last couple of decades.

One such year of rebirth was 1952: For the very first time, vessel routing services got introduced into the industry. 1952 is when vessels were retrofitted with a prototype that would later evolve into the Automatic Identification System (AIS) in the late 90s, something that ushered a new era in maritime navigation so to speak.

AIS data, when clubbed together, gives us all-around insights into the vessel involved, its speed, position, ship dimensions, as well as its draft, helping us identify when the ship was loaded or unloaded with its designated cargo. However, the last point is an application of various data points obtained via AIS, and not available via raw data obtained from the systems onboard.

AIS, as stated above, was originally meant for ensuring navigational safety, but has quickly proved to be a vital source of business intelligence for maritime personnel.

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2020 in Review: How Did the Pandemic Impact Maritime Logistics?

in News, Maritime Knowledge by

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unparalleled impact on global mobility – on land, at sea and in the air. The severe restrictions on human movements, changes in consumption and the economic impact of lockdowns and reduced demand due to increased unemployment or short-time working hit the global economy hard, though with greatly differing impacts on national economies. So how has the pandemic affected maritime logistics?

Port congestion, Port of Los Angeles, May 2021, FleetMon Explorer
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Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea: An overview

in Maritime Knowledge by
Vessel traffic in the Gulf of Guinea monitored with FleetMon Explorer

Let me tell you a story from an upcoming John McTiernan movie: A ship is sailing peacefully 200 nautical miles off the Nigerian coastline, literally being in the middle of nowhere. Out of the blue, pirates manage to strike the ship and end up boarding it eventually. The crew, in their natural response, gather in a safe room, fearing their safety.

However, the pirates set aloof in their efforts in entering the ship’s bridge. It takes them six hours to bypass the Citadel, but they do it eventually. The pirates manage to kidnap 15 crew members and unfortunately, kill one member in skirmishes. How will they be saved? And most importantly, who will save them?

Think this is a plot good enough to be a sequel to Paul Greengrass’s Captain Phillips? Well, think again.

Evidently, I lied to you before when I told you it was going to be the next John McTiernan classic. It isn’t. This happened in real life on board the containership MOZART, which, unlike its namesake musician, wasn’t very lucky. FleetMon reported about the piracy attack in Jan 2021.

So, welcome to the Gulf of Guinea, where militant activities, armed robberies, crew killings, and tanker boardings are as common as the morning light. Before delving deeper into the possible remedies to these acute problems and the factors behind them, let’s break the situation down to you so you have a coherent understanding of the same.

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Bay of Biscay: The Deathbed of Ships

in Maritime Knowledge by
Cliffs of the Bay of Biscay, Image by ttzarza from Pixabay 

The French philosopher Voltaire gave this as a reference to the famed shipwrecks in the Bay of Biscay, a gulf of the northeast Atlantic Ocean located south of the Celtic Sea, off the coast of Spain.

The history of human navigation extensively documented shipwrecks off the infamous Spanish Bay, known to many as “The Valley of Death,” “The Vomiting Venus,” and “The Trunk of the Atlantic U-Boat Menace.”

Albeit with the advent of modern technology, improved vessel route prediction, as well as improvements in vessel designing, the number of fatalities in the Bay has considerably reduced. But this shouldn’t stop us from delving into the past! But before we do that, let’s explore the historical context so you know just why the Bay became so infamous among the sailing community back in the days.

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Ghost Ships and the Seven Seas

in Maritime Knowledge by

The maritime folklore of ghost ship, “Flying Dutchman” happens to be very popular and it has inspired hundreds of paintings, books, operas and movies. Are ghost ships only limited to the folklores and Halloween stories? In the world of modern maritime, the term ghost ship has a much more practical meaning.  

Ghost ships are vessels floating with no living crew onboard. These abandoned vessels drift in the ocean and appear suddenly at some coast or are spotted midsea giving rise to a series of questions about ownership, crew safety, environmental hazard, security of state, etc. These vessels could have been abandoned under any unknown circumstances. Later these ships become subject to horror stories as these abandoned vessels have many unanswered questions, such as: What happened to the crew? From where did the vessel arrive? and many more attached to them. It is interesting to learn the reasons behind the abandonment of vessels which later turn up as ghost ships.

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Why are ship hulls painted red?

in Maritime Knowledge by
Image of container ship CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin by ship spotter Claus_Gaser has its hull painted red.

Any avid ship spotter or someone who has been on board a commercial ship knows that these are often painted red below the waterline.  Since the ship hulls mostly remain underwater, one question that might be asked is ‘Why red is the color of choice?’ Well, the reason lies simply in shipping tradition – Oh, and worms!

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Strait of Hormuz: The Chokepoint for Global Oil Demands

in Maritime Knowledge by
Cargo and tanker high-traffic lanes and vessel traffic in the Strait of Hormuz via FleetMon Explorer

Sandwiched between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, the Strait of Hormuz is the only sea passage connecting the Persian Gulf to the open ocean. In other words, it is the lifeline of the Arab world, the most notable among them being Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.

Although the narrowest point in the strait is just 33km wide, the shipping lanes in both directions are only 3km wide.

If you’ve been following maritime incidents, you’d know that this Strait is in the frontline when it comes to the battle between Iran and the United States. So much so that the United States Fifth Fleet, based in Manama, Bahrain, is responsible for protecting maritime shipping lanes in this region.

Have a look at the Strait of Hormuz using FleetMon Explorer for real-time vessel tracking.

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Which cruise ships have been sold or scrapped since COVID-19?

in Maritime Knowledge by

Cruise ships became the first hot-spots of the deadly Coronavirus, with luxury yachts and mega cruises turning into large quarantine centers. FleetMon reported on the developments since the beginning of the pandemic. Governments all around the world resorted to imposing a strict ‘No Cruise’ ban.

With COVID-19 impacting all sectors of the economy, the cruise industry has been particularly brought to its knees.

With the figures we’re going to show you now, it becomes apparent that the sheer scale of this global shutdown is unlike something the industry has ever witnessed, easily dwarfing global events like 9/11 or stock market crashes.

Cruise liner Queen of the Oceans by ship spotter AIS-Split
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