What is the state of the World’s leading naval powers? Where are large naval units home-ported, and what ships are in reserve? What is being built or rebuilt and what does dismantling an aircraft carrier actually look like? What historic vessels are preserved and where are those elusive views of ships that are no more?
Satellite imagery can help us answer some of these questions. The satellite imagery interpretation section at Warsearcher have been busy working on pages to help the people find the ships. This site currently documents 241 ship classes across 8 navies with 503 satellite or aerial imagery captures.* More pages are in the works. 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.
Pages are organized by navy (in the tabs above in the shipsearcher menu bar). Within the page, ship classes or individual units are roughly from largest or most powerful to smallest types: Aircraft carriers are an example of a ship type that would appear first; patrol vessels, minesweepers, or auxiliaries would be some of the last listed. 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), 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 numbering or pennant reclassifications.
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 example, 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. Photographs 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.
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. Warsearcher started by looking for views of the largest and easiest to identify vessels: current aircraft carriers. The site expanded by leaps and bounds to document historical/retired carriers, amphibious assault ships, battleships, cruisers, destroyers, destroyer escorts, frigates, corvettes, littoral combat ships…and continues to expand. 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 always welcome input, corrections, unique photos of ships we feature (we will credit you) and ideas for pages or ships to try to locate. Happy searching!
*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. This also is not a count of any of the additional illustrative photographs used from a variety of sources, nor 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.