What is this page about and why should you be interested? The Ship Identification Section (SIS) at Warsearcher have built a database and archive of satellite imagery of many of the World’s warships, as seen in the Google Earth catalogue, and in other online satellite and aerial imagery. There are ships from more than 50 navies. Why did we do this? Active warships are not buildings or landmarks! They do not have street addresses. You can’t type in USS Abraham Lincoln CVN-72 and have google maps magically locate the ship or show you what it looks like. So what we did was use photographs, diagrams, drawings, and any information we could cobble together to identify warships wherever we encountered them, going more or less country by country, naval port by naval port, and backwards in time as far as we could. This site evolved in leaps and bounds, and that is why some navies are more fleshed-out than others. Though we didn’t start with the idea of doing much more than aircraft carriers, we just kept chugging along down to smaller units, and to smaller navies.
Some ships are newly built, some are nearing the end of their service lives, some are laid up, and some have been converted to other roles, preserved as museum ships, been sunk, or are now scrapped. We also feature a few visible shipwrecks. This is a great resource for the OSINT (Open Source Intelligence) community and warship enthusiasts generally. Extending identifications as far as we could, we have a few views of ships from aerial photographs dating back to the late 1930s! Most captures, however, are from the late 1990s until the present. Pages are full of views of ships being built, ships being rebuilt, ships in their usual homeports, and ships being dismantled. Our blog posts and occasional ship histories dig deeper into naval history or try to highlight certain themes or interesting aspects of the captures. Navigate the shipsearcher tabs in the menu above to start exploring warship views!
This site is under development as of 2021. The general structure is built. This site currently documents 1,190ship classes across 50 navies with 3,031 satellite or aerial imagery captures, including additional pages for interesting naval ships from the rest of the World’s smaller navies.* Pages are organized by navy index pages (in the tabs above in the shipsearcher menu bar, or in the release history page). From these visitors can navigate down into sub-pages where the ship views are located. Each ship or class is described with key dates (usually first date in commission — date of last decommissioning, and other dates such as scrapping), the Length Overall (LOA) of the vessel (this is the greatest length from bow to stern, measured in feet), and the Total Displacement (TDISP) (which is an approximation, for a rough idea of vessel size, of the total volume the vessel’s hull displaces in the water when it is loaded with stores, ammunition, crew). Other notes that may be of interest are included. Pennant numbers and other identification numbers are a best effort, and do not necessarily reflect fleet renumbering.
If you are looking for technical descriptions of the armament, sensors, propulsion, counter-measures, or detailed information about the air complement carried in any particular era, we encourage you to look at the many other sources online. We are not technical experts; What we do, we do for the love of warships, and an almost fanatical interest in identifying them. We accept that we may have bias, but have tried hard to leave this out of the pages, to let the satellite views speak for themselves.
The site pages are organized based on ships or classes of ship for which satellite imagery has been located. If staff could not locate a relevant view, there is no listing!** Normally this limits the types of vessels listed to those that have been in existence (including as museum ships) from the late 1990s until now, with some exceptions for older captures. In some cases, ship identifications are speculative, and visitors can read about the process of identification at a ship identification page, that also provides guidance and terms for using our imagery. We want to share these views! Extensive ship photos help complement these captures, providing alternate views of vessels thru their sometimes long careers, or views of long-dismantled sister-ships. In some cases they have been included to support the identification of the vessels. If you’d like to see the dates these pages were released, check out the list of release dates, with hyperlinks.
There are many reasons why even the most developed pages will remain a partial record of naval units, and this site is not intended to be a definitive record of all warships of all navies of the World. We started by looking for views of the largest and easiest to identify vessels: aircraft carriers. The site expanded by leaps and bounds to document historical/retired carriers, amphibious assault ships, preserved battleships, cruisers, destroyers, destroyer escorts, frigates, corvettes, littoral combat ships…and continues to grow. At the index page for each navy’s ship classes we indicate how many different ship classes are documented on the page and how many individual captures appear.
We would welcome constructive input, corrections, unique photos of ships we feature (we will credit you) and ideas for pages or ships to try to locate. Help us out! Please note, images and satellite / aerial captures in these pages, to the extent of our understanding, are correctly attributed and free of copyright restrictions to non-commercial use. The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information in the following pages does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement. This statement applies equally to all other archives and other sources of photographs we use.
*This count is not an accurate number of individual ships documented, as there are some single captures of multiple vessels, and multiple captures of a single vessel. Also, the number of ship classes counted cannot account for duplication of classes serving in several different navies. This also is not a count of the captures of overall bases or the few captures of other subjects of interest, such as simulated aircraft carriers or large mock-ups.
**In a very few cases, imagery of warships no longer in existence or not located have been added to show the evolution of warship classes or variants of ships.