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!
Typhoon_class_submarine
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.
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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.

2020 – The Next Navy in our Sights!

A powerful fleet is emerging from the mists of the South China Sea. Led by a pair of carriers, in line ahead, cruisers, destroyers, frigates, amphibious assault ships, landing ships and other units are being systematically identified and logged in the Shipsearcher Database by Ship Identification Directorate (SID) staff.

The People’s Republic of China-where even the theme park attractions scare the hell out of naval observers.

The last of the large shipsearcher pages will be the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). The PRC fleet was once viewed as an out-dated adjunct to the massive land forces. These days, the furious pace of naval construction is setting China on a path to become the World’s penultimate naval force, second only to the USN. In the meantime, please check out any of the other 13 navies on the site!

Navies Down Under!

Two new pages explore the past and present surface warships of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN). For shipsearcher staff, it was particularly challenging to locate imagery of these vessels, as they were all loaded upside down (we hope you enjoyed that truly elevated piece of imagery-related humour)!

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HMAS Vampire D-11 ca. 1959 © Australian War Memorial 301609 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/au/

Some of the more interesting features of these pages include the RNZN 1963 views of Devonport Naval Base, Auckland’s major naval facility. The aerial views make identification of early Cold War and long-service Second World War-built warships possible. As for the RAN, the range of ship classes depicted speaks to a diversified, potent force capable of undertaking a range of missions. As always, we have taken pains to track down long out of service or preserved warships.

Loch Class D Devonport 1963
Loch Class frigate and Bathurst Class corvettes, 1963 view of Devonport near Auckland, NZ

These posts complement pages on some of the other Commonwealth navies: Royal Navy and Royal Canadian Navy

Soviet / Russian Subs Spotted on the Surface!

Shipsearcher staff have been busy looking into the inlets around Murmansk and Vladivostok for large Russian submarines. We’ve found some nice satellite captures of boats to share in a new page on Russian submarines.

Oscar II Pacific Fleet 2018 test

DN-SN-96-00408
Oscar II class submarine, showing the wide breadth, 1994 NARA: 330-CFD-DN-SN-96-00408

Many, like the enormous Typhoon Class of Hunt for Red October fame, are resurrected dinosaurs of the Cold War, while some are new and terrifying breeds.Typhoon TK208 Sevmash 2018

Featured in the page are nuclear boats that have been the subject of media speculation, such as the World’s longest submarine, the special mission heavily modified Oscar II class Belgorod, and the Losharik deep submergence mini-sub. These are some of the biggest and scariest subs active today. We hope you enjoy these views, just remember, in Soviet Russia, submarine submerges YOU!!

Shipsearcher launches!

Find the warships!

The first pages of Shipsearcher have now been released. This summer, a break-away faction of Warsearcher staff began honing their ship identification skills. It started as background research for our R & D programs, but it quickly snow-balled to absorb resources from war trophies research and postcard collecting sections.

Could the new Ship Identification Directorate (SID) identify warships from various captures of satellite imagery? With the amount of contextual information and photographs proliferating online, we believe the current pages, and those to come, are an interesting, original record of warships. As of October, 2019, there are pages up for US Navy current surface units, US Navy retired/historic, Royal Canadian Navy. The imagery in this post is a sneak peak at some that will appear in pages still building. We also have a page up about sources and the ID process.