Vessel Tracking

What is vessel tracking?

Vessel tracking is the ability to track, identify, and monitor a ship’s location and map the full details of the entire route. GPS pinpoints the vessel’s location in the water, which is essential for tracking bad actors, and for the ship to navigate. Other systems, such as the ship’s automatic identification system (AIS) transponders, incorporate the GPS and transmit information, including the ship’s position, identification number, draft, and accompanying details. 

According to Marine Insight, “A vessel tracking system, as the name suggests, is a collection of equipments which enable marine and naval vessels to track, identify and monitor a ship’s position, location and any other detail that might be important in maneuvering and stabilizing a ship’s route and course.”

4 major benefits of vessel tracking

  1. Organizations can go beyond compliance risk with recommendations and insights on security and safety all in one screen, with a 360° view of maritime risk. 
  2. Immediate risk recommendations that are customized to your needs enable efficient clearing of more vessels. 
  3. 360° view resulting from dynamic risk scores and full visibility for vessels based on deceptive shipping practices, ownership structures, cargo, and containers. 
  4. Empower your compliance teams and enable smarter decisions with fully transparent alerts and actionable insights.

Vessel tracking and the supply chain

One container journey is often carried out by multiple vessels. Vessel tracking is crucial to track where the vessel or vessels are, and to monitor the container from its port of loading (POL) to the final port of discharge (POD). For example, container X can leave its original POL on vessel A, travel to a transshipment port, be discharged from vessel A, and be loaded onto vessel B, which will transport it to the final POD. There could even be one or two more intermediate ports in more complex scenarios.
The complexities of the supply chain, like the rise in port congestion, vessel tracking, container tracking, and ensuring visibility on the ocean leg of the supply chain, have never been more critical. With many dynamic changes and unknowns, the more organizations know and can see, the easier it is to deal with any setbacks that may arise. With an ocean vessel tracking system, this is possible, showing real-time updates of your container’s journey.

Monitoring is a must

Vessel tracking is important not only for container vessel tracking, but also for monitoring deceptive shipping practices and minimizing the many risks at sea. Deceptive shipping practices are constantly evolving from “going dark” and switching off AIS, to GNSS manipulation, where bad actors conceal their illicit activities by electronically manipulating their transmitted GPS location. If shippers and traders don’t sufficiently monitor, they are at major risk of getting involved with suspicious vessels involved in deceptive shipping practices. 

It is important for shippers to keep their reputations intact and to be on top of their fleet, using vessel tracking. The risk can also be costly, because once a vessel has been defined as high risk, it can cause major issues and even trigger sanctions. Maritime AITM technology can help you proactively manage sanctions screening with actionable and real-time insights, detecting sanctions violations before designation.

Understanding the behavior of vessels in a fleet and being on the lookout for deceptive shipping practices minimizes shippers’ liability when bad actors do something illegal. Ocean vessel tracking technology can also include counterparty due diligence screens and analysis of ownership levels, to discover hidden connections between a company, an individual, and a high-risk vessel. Conducting due diligence ensures that the risk is minimized, assisting shippers in knowing who they are engaging with.

The importance of sanctions screening

According to Dow Jones, “Trade finance and compliance teams have recently recognized that regulatory risk can be associated with various aspects of a trade transaction, including the foods being traded, the buyers, sellers (and their affiliates), the cities and ports along the shipping route and the shipping vessels themselves. Shipowners in particular, must guard against undertaking unlawful trades where they contravene the laws of the country to or from which the vessel will trade.”

Vessel tracking systems enable shippers to proactively identify entities at high risk for sanction violations before they are listed. The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) takes these crimes seriously and has stated, “OFAC of the US Department of the Treasury administers and enforces economic and trade sanctions based on US foreign policy and national security goals against targeted foreign countries and regimes, terrorists, international narcotics traffickers, those engaged in activities related to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and other threats to the national security, foreign policy or economy of the United​ States.” With a sanctions screening solution like Windward’s, you can proactively manage sanctions screening with actionable and real-time insights to detect sanctions violations before designation.

Know Your Vessel (KYV) – a must-have solution

The world of trade sanctions is dynamic, and knowing which vessels you can safely do business with has never been more important. These days, having a KYV solution is non-negotiable and should include various important aspects: 

  • Immediate vessel clearance recommendations for screening live transactions
  • Automatic identification of vessels associated with deceptive shipping practices
  • Dark activity algorithms calibrated to filter out AIS lost signals
  • Searchable history of ship-to-ship meetings
  • Ability to flag anomalous behavior, such as uneconomic operational patterns
  • Investigative tools, such as historical logs of activities and a dynamic map