The Irish Sea is a hive of shipping activity – find out more
Look across the Irish Sea from the Fylde Coast and you’ll see all kinds of boats. Did you know that you can find out what they are and where they are going with the AIS Ship Tracking website?
Ships Servicing the Windfarms
In the north around the Heysham/Morecambe Bay area there are lots of ships and boats of all sizes, involved in the construction and maintenance of the offshore windfarms.
There are service boats, cable laying boats, and all kinds of ships connected to building and servicing the wind turbines.
They mostly sail out of Heysham, which is the port most associated with the Irish Sea windfarms.
You’ll also see ferries sailing back and forth each day between Heysham and Ireland and the Isle of Man, carrying cargo and passengers.
If you’re curious to know what these ships are and where they are going, you can easily satisfy your curiosity, with a number of websites, perhaps the most popular of which is Ship AIS.
Take a look at the Ship AIS Walney Windfarm page which gives you the whole of the Fylde Coast and the shipping which is involved in the northern area and windfarm.
The Irish Sea page gives an overview of ships moving around in the whole of the area between here and Ireland.
The Ship AIS website page for the Irish Sea
A group of Ship Plotter enthusiasts bring you these live vessel movements from around the UK derived from AIS data.
On the website you can click on the map to see the individual ships, their statistics and photos.
What is AIS?
Automatic Identification System (AIS) is a collision avoidance system that gives information all the ships in your area, their speed and courses and how to contact them (name, callsign, MMSI). This information is publically broadcast on VHF radio which can be picked up either by other ships or by shore based receivers.
AIS works best over a range of a few miles as the AIS signal is more or less limited to line of sight to the horizon (usually 10-20 miles). However, by getting together a group of amateur shipping enthusiasts around the country equipped with suitable receivers and aerials, ships can be tracked over longer distances.
The Work of One Man!
I was amazed to discover that the Ship AIS website was originally the work of one man, who now has a team of contributors working with him to provide this data to curious observers just like us.
What’s this ferry, and where is it going?
Find out with Ship AIS boat tracker website