Three Thousand Shipsearcher views, many more pages, and 2021 debrief!

A while back we posted about reaching the milestone of a thousand shipsearcher warship views, and pointed to some of the most interesting captures and ship stories. We have now found more than 3,000 warships using open satellite imagery, and added these to the Shipsearcher database of pages! We continued our mission to travel the World and the Seven Seas to document 24 more navies, and added a special consolidated page of large or notable naval units from all smaller navies.* During 2021, we welcomed more than 20,000 visitors to our pages, with about 50,000 views.

We created a release history page, so that visitors can see when pages/navies were added to the project, with all pages hyperlinked. We hope to do updates when/if we can. We know for some navies, such as the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy, the pace of new additions to the fleet has rendered the information dated as soon as it came out! The images below link to the relevant page. It’s a hyperlink-rich environment, folks, so click often and please share!

Type 003 Shanghai 2021-11 The major Chinese naval development of the recent era is the Type 03 carrier, which is roughly the size of the first US supercarriers of the 1950s, and larger than what any other country has yet produced. Recently released imagery shows the state of construction near Shanghai.  

A project that began as a quick look at active and retired United States Navy carriers has now documented more than 50 World navies, from the largest carriers to museum and sail training ships, down to large patrol boats. We also went back and retrospectively added in pages for submarines into the arrangement of every navy that operates these nefarious boats!

The resource has a total of more than 400 pages. Navy index pages (found under shipsearcher menu above) lead to sub-categories of warships. We also built pages for supercarrier scrapping and Chinese island fortress construction, and terms of use and sources for our images, which also explains how we go about trying to identify ships. Recently, we took a side trip to document the World’s sailing warships and replicas, and fairly ridiculous pirate ships!

Hermione replica frigate Rochefort 2017 The French replica of the frigate Hermione, the ship that brought the Marquis de Lafayette to America during the Revolution, showing her lovely lines and towering rig. This and about a hundred other sailing warships of various types can be seen at the newly added page!

Using the search box can trawl up some interesting results across pages. For example searches for unique ship types such as hydrofoilsmuseum ships or wrecks will guide you to the relevant pages. Just do a “control F” search in the page to get to the ship. So what are some of the most interesting or odd captures we’ve located since our last round-up post? Check out below, with links to posts and pages, and keep exploring the database!

Ethiopia A-01 Barnegat Class Yemen 2003 One of the most important discoveries we feel we made was the fate of the last WW2 US Navy Barnegat seaplane tender known to exist. USS Orca, a Pacific war veteran, was transferred to Ethiopia and served as the flagship. It fled to Yemen in 1991 during the civil war, with much of the fleet. We located the last views of this veteran behind the contested Yemeni port of Hodeidah, and added it to our small navies, great ships pages.
FakeUScarrierBandar Abbas2020-03 We’ve been pretty interested in the fake Iranian carrier at Bandar Abbas since we first added it to the carriers pages, and we have continued to follow her interesting life. This shows the last views of her before she was again destroyed in an Iranian swarming attack exercise.
FakeUScarrierwreckBandar Abbas2020-08
And the post-exercise wreck…after it had blocked the approaches to the main naval port of Bandar Abbas and then been hauled aside.
Vesikko sub museum Helsinki 2015 A rare example of a 1930s coastal submarine, the Finish Navy’s Vesikko is displayed, with interesting camouflage, in Helsinki. This sub and others can be found at the small navies submarine page.
Prinz Eugen cruiser wreck Kwajalein Atill 2013 The former German heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, recommissioned as the USS Prinz Eugen for the atomic bomb tests at Bikini Atoll, is capsized, with the wreck in deeper water towards the bow. The good news is all the hazardous oil remaining in the wreck was removed a few years ago!
Mare Island Naval Shipyard, California We are also interested in any aerial photography we can locate, and will use it to source older views of ships. Here, two Cleveland Class light cruisers are laid up in the Pacific reserve fleet at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard, 1960 [Detail of NH 888083] Courtesy of the Naval History and Heritage Command
Cleveland class Light Cruisers San Francisco 1946 And to accompany the above, an early aerial loaded in Google Earth catalogue of similar Cleveland class cruisers just after WW2. Note the outboard ship shows the large hangar space at the stern of these cruisers.
Cuban Navy frigate convert Havana 2014 How do you turn a fishing trawler into a guided missile frigate? Well, Cuba has a long history of making do with what equipment they have on hand. This view shows the addition of the helicopter flight deck aft and missile tubes forward – One of the more interesting frigates found in our small navies – great ships pages.
HMVS Cerberus Melbourne 2018 HMVS / HMAS Cerberus breakwater. This hulk of a unique “Breastwork Monitor,” probably the last remaining type of this craft, has an important history in the establishment of the Australian naval service.
Great Wall Type 031 SSB Qingdao museum 2020
The Chinese Navy submarine page is a recent addition. It proved a challenge to locate submarines in the many bases of the People’s Liberation Army Navy. The Qingao Naval Museum has several historic PLAN units, including the Type 031 “Great Wall 200” (lower boat), a Chinese-built, modified Soviet Golf class submarine important to the ballistic missile program, and the Changzheng 1 (1974-2000) the first PLAN nuclear-powered boat (upper). To see these and newer boats, visit the page.
Black Pearl - Queen Anne's Revenge pirate ship castaway cay Pirates of the Caribbean fans will be appalled that we titled this as the wrong pirate ship! Of course this is actually the movie ship the Flying Dutchman, which we believe to be a creative interpretation of both the Swedish royal warship Vasa, and something really, really bad. Enjoy this and our other pirate ships!
PAVN Turya class PCK Nha Trang 2020 We have an interest in hydrofoils, and tracked down these elderly Russian-designed boats in Vietnam. This Vietnamese navy Turya / Project 206M class Hydrofoil torpedo boat is at Nah Trang.
HTMS Phosampton Algerine class Ban Samet Ngam 2015 The HTMS Phosampton, decommissioned and awaiting either preservation or destruction. This is the World’s last existing Algerine class Second World War minesweeper, formerly HMS Minstrel. We wrote both a post and added this to the relevant page.
Dom Fernando II e Glória Lisbon 2018Dom Fernando II e Glória at Lisbon. A remarkable 50-gun frigate built in then-Portuguese India and commissioned in 1845.
HTMS Thonburi Coastal Defence memorial Thai Naval Academy 2015 HTMS Thonburi artifacts, arranged in an interesting way that replicates the forward spaces of this powerful coastal defence ship. The “emerging from a tree” thing was probably not the original intention!
Shabab Oman II WS Oman 2021 The new and beautiful Omani sail training ship Shabab Oman II (2014)
Titanic replica Daying Co. China 2021 We found a creative place to slot this view of the Titanic replica under construction in Daying County, China, choosing to use it to illustrate sister-ships Olympic and Britannic, that served respectively as a troop transport and a hospital ship. The replica is up to deck level, with speculation about whether it will ever be completed.

*As a general – sometimes disregarded -convention, navies with 3 or  more frigates, or a mix of a destroyer or submarines, or a powerful force of corvettes or ocean patrol vessels, have their own pages, while notable ships from other navies get added to the “Small Navies – Great Ships” pages.

A Thousand Shipsearcher satellite views launched, and some highlights!

The Elizabethan playwright Christopher Marlowe, in his celebrated play, Dr. Faustus, wrote of a mythic age, when a thousand warships were launched to grab back Helen, the most beautiful woman. Here at Shipsearcher, the Ship Identification Section (SIS) can’t tell you if any of that happened in distant antiquity – satellite imagery of the Trojan War is poor, to say the least! We can tell you that we’ve now launched over a thousand warship views and loaded these in our Google Earth satellite imagery database!

With the recent pages for the Norwegian, German, Danish, and Dutch navies, we have now found more than 1,100 warships using open satellite imagery! A project that began as a quick look at active and retired United States Navy carriers has now documented 27 World navies, from the largest carriers to museum and sail training ships.

The resource has a total of 198 pages: Navy index pages (found under shipsearcher menu above) and sub-categories of warships. This includes the stand-alone pages for supercarrier scrapping and Chinese island fortress construction, and the page on terms of use and sources for our images, which also explains how we go about trying to identify ships. Using the search window at right can trawl up some interesting results across pages. For example searches for unique ship types such as hydrofoils, museum ships or wrecks will guide you to the relevant pages. Just do a “control F” search in the page to get to the ship.

So what are some of the most interesting or odd captures we’ve located out there in the wild World? Check out below, where we’ve loaded captions with links to posts and pages to keep exploring the database. It’s a hyperlink-rich environment, folks, so click often and please share!

Olympias trireme Palaio Faliro 2016
The commissioned Greek warship HS Olympias, a reconstruction of an ancient Trireme. We couldn’t read her pennant number or deck code letters…but we’re pretty sure about this ID!
The largest submarine yet, a Typhoon class nuclear ballistic missile submarine, captured by US satellite in 1982 alongside at Severodvinsk, the main Russian site of submarine construction and repair, in the days of the Soviet Union, and today. US Government, released 2012 by the National Reconnaissance Office / Public domain
Typhoon TK208 Severodvinsk 2019
And the same spot almost 37 years later, with the last active Typhoon, Dmitry Donskoy TK-208.
It used to be that the Chinese carrier program involved training mock-ups, fake carriers in amusement parks, and buying Soviet missile cruisers to use as hotels and casinos. That all changed when they bought the dead carrier hulk Varyag from Ukraine, and retrofitted it as the Liaoning. The facility above helped plan for the new naval program. A new carrier, a new class of amphibious assault ship, and massive building programs of surface combatants is transforming the People’s Liberation Army Navy.
Riga class wreck Boyuk Zira Island, Azerbaijan 2012
We stumbled across these Riga wrecks by complete accident…but they seemed relevant, and were added to the Russian / Soviet frigate page.
Santissima Trinidad Puerto Belgrano ARG 2013
ARA Santissima Trinidad, a British designed Type 42 Argentinian destroyer, capsized at Puerto Belgrano after long inactivity. The destroyer was supposed to have become a museum ship dedicated to the Falklands War, which she participated in.
SS United States Philidephia 2019
The SS United States appears in our post on the visible shipwreck of the SS America, as a comparison and product of the same naval architect, William Francis Gibbs. Classy lady, classy shadow!
Expeditionary Mobile Base San Diego 2017
And now for something different, we have this new type of ship, made from converting a design for an oil tanker. We don’t know what it is, or what it does…but if an oil tanker wants to be some version of an amphibious warfare ship…then good for you, USS Lewis B. Puller!
USN 4-stackersSF1938-2
A highlight of the extensive USN retired destroyers page was this 1938 view of a four stacker USN destroyer at San Francisco…and we found more!
Scrap Saratoga CV60 TX 2015-01
Four months along the scrapping process near Brownsville, Texas, former USS Saratoga, CV-60, shows the stages a massive carrier is “broken”. We explored the scrapping of US supercarriers in our most popular single post and a more extensive stand-alone page a while back.
HM Monitor Chatham Kent SWW
Second World War views of Chatham Royal Navy Dockyards provided by the Kent County Council, allowed us to document some unanticipated views of Royal Navy ships, including this monitor, which looks like HMS Erebus, and another view that can be found on the RN page of HMS Argus.
USS Iowa BB-61 Suisun BayCA2007
The fate of most ships in inactive status at a “warship boneyard” like Suisun Bay, California, is not a happy story. USS Iowa BB-61, Iowa class Battleship, by contrast, had groups bidding to preserve her as a museum ship. Since 2012 she has been moored at the Pacific Battleship Center, Los Angeles.
VOC Amsterdam 2018 wreck Bulverhythe Beachdistance
Wreck and Replica of Dutch East India Company VOC Amsterdam (1748) together! Composite view with 2017/05 Amsterdam view of Netherlands Maritime Museum replica overlaid onto 2018/05 Bulverhythe Beach, UK, capture, from our new page on the Royal Netherlands Navy.
USS George Washington CVN-73, Nimitz class nuclear-powered supercarrier, is displaying her powerful air complement. In our experience we see the aircraft surprisingly rarely in views of these ships in their home-ports.
USS LST-480 wreck HW 2015
The wreck of LST-480 (Landing Ship – Tank), sunk during the West Loch disaster, Pearl Harbor 21 May 1944, which resulted in the tragic loss of at least 163 lives. Shipsearcher staff have tried  very hard to track down many surviving LSTs.
INS Vikrant IAC-1 Error
In the category of best Google Earth splicing errors: Two overlapping images gives the future INS Vikrant another 270′, making it fictitiously a 1,130 foot, double-islanded behemoth! HMS Queen Elizabeth beware!
USS Inaugural wreck St Louis MO 2012
A wrecked museum ship, the former USS Inaugural minesweeper, makes of an oddly beautiful capture with the corrosion and tidelines patterning the hull.
usns mercy san diego 2013
If you don’t love giant hospital ships, there may be something perverse about you. USNS Mercy, and sister-ship USNS Comfort, on the Atlantic coast, were not hard to find, and have been in the news quite a bit lately about the COVID-19 response. Stay safe and watch for U-boats!
HMS Victory 1765 Portsmouth 2014
We all need more HMS Victory in the World, and we said as much in a post.