Auckland Ship Tracking (AIS)


What is AIS? Simply put, AIS (which stands for Automatic Identification System) is a means by which ships can be tracked. By law, all ships over 300 tons must be equipped with a VHF transmitter which broadcasts their position along with other information such as identification number, name, course and speed. Ports and other ships are able to receive this information and, using on-board display systems, watch the movements of ships within their area, much like on radar.


To give an example of this, the Auckland Port Authority uses AIS to track ships from as far away as Cape Reinga (some 280 miles north of Auckland) and Tauranga (some 130 miles south of Auckland) with the data being displayed on four large screens at Harbour Control. AIS has been used on a number of occasions when conditions have been very foggy to help ships navigate their way in and out of port. Obviously there are a number of other uses that AIS can be put to such as helping to resolve the difficulty of identifying ships when not in sight (e.g. at night, in radar blind arcs or shadows or at distance), commercial shipping firms being able to keep track of their ships or the ships their cargo is on, etc.


A lot of the ships you will see displayed on the map below come from our own receiving station here at the Sanctuary. Other ships will be from other receiving stations in the area. The data is then uploaded to the Marine Traffic web site in Greece and pulled to here. Use the map controls to zoom in or out and clicking on a ship's name or icon gives further information, including photo if available.