The Irish Sea is a hive of activity. Along with the small pleasure craft and sea anglers, you’ll see commercial and service boats. Find out what they are and where they’re going, with ship tracking from the AIS website.
Ships Servicing the Offshore Wind Farms
In the Irish Sea, on the horizon, there’s a growing forest of wind turbines. Together these form the Walney Offshore Windfarm, and it’s one of the largest in the world. Did you also know that the electricity generated by Walney Offshore Windfarm 2 comes to land right here on the Fylde Coast at Cleveleys?
The turbines in this huge wind farm require constant maintenance so you will see ships at sea of all kinds of sizes. Some will be carrying out routine maintenance, others are involved in the erection of new turbines.
There are service boats, cable laying boats, and all kinds of ships connected to building and servicing of the wind turbines. Most of them sail from Heysham, which is the port most associated with the Irish Sea wind farms.
You’ll also see ferries sailing back and forth each day from Heysham to Ireland and the Isle of Man. They’re carrying cargo and passengers.
Curious to know what the ships that you see are? Do you want to know where they are going? Satisfy your curiosity and look them up!
Our favourite ship tracking website is Ship AIS. You can search the site to see any area of water, but we’ve picked two bits out for you for the Fylde Coast:
- Ship AIS Walney Windfarm features the whole of the Fylde Coast, including the shipping involved in the wind farm.
- The Irish Sea page gives an overview of ships moving around in the whole of the area between here and Ireland.
On the website you can click on the map to see the individual ships, their statistics and photos. A group of ship plotting enthusiasts bring you these live vessel movements from around the UK, the information is derived from AIS data.
What is AIS?
Automatic Identification System (AIS) is a collision avoidance system that gives information on all of the ships in your area. It provides their speed and courses and how to contact them (name, call sign, MMSI). This information is publicly broadcast on VHF radio and 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, all equipped with suitable receivers and aerials, ships can be tracked over longer distances.
Ship Tracking with AIS – all the work of one man!
Here at Visit Fylde Coast we were amazed to discover that the Ship AIS website was originally the work of one man. He now has a team of contributors working with him to provide this data to curious observers just like us.
Find out More
Have a look at the Visit Fylde Coast website homepage for more of the latest updates.
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