Advanced Search


1. Category

Use this category for vessels that are in service at the time the photo was taken. That includes vessels that are laid up temporarily or mothballed.

Vessels that are permanently decommissioned, i.e. transferred to museums, sold for scrap, for demolition or sold out of the service should be put under the other categories available on this site. For example a wartime shot of HMCS Sackville belongs in the corvette subcategory, but a recent one belongs under Museum ships. For vessels that have not / will not receive a new name before being scrapped, enter the name as it would have appeared in active service.

For the purposes of this web site, to assist with the “This Ship” search function, a Military Ship’s name should remain the same from initial construction to scrapping – unless it has a formal name change

Military vessels photos of a rare or historical nature may be uploaded to the For Preservation subcategory. This does not include shots of ex naval vessels now in Museums or used as pleasure craft or harbour tour boats or artificial reefs. This subcategory is not to be used for photos uploaded solely because of the sentimental value to an ex crew member.

Civilian vessels sometimes get leased in by the military. For example the Norwegian barque Statraad Lemhkuhl is used by the Naval Academy as a school ship. While she has a command pennant hoisted she is considered an Auxiliary.
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2. Sub

The subcategories that will be seen in the drop down menu while uploading are in three groups:-


Aircraft Carriers: Normally prefixed with “CV” or “R”, but other variations may be seen (Italian “C” or Japanese “DDH”). Does not include aviation ships designed for sending troops ashore, which are normally prefixed with “L”.

Auxiliaries: Mostly unarmed or lightly armed support (non-combat) vessels. Normally prefixed with “A”.


Corvettes: Generally smaller and lighter than Frigates, but may have Frigate prefixes (“F”).

Cruisers: Large, heavy combat ships, normally prefixed with “C”.

Destroyers: Normally prefixed with “D”.

Fast Attack Craft: Speed greater than 30 knots, heavily armed for their small size. Often prefixed with “P” as a sub-set of Patrol Forces.

Formation and group photos: Includes different types of ships. Several ships of the same type should be listed in their normal sub-category.

Frigates: Smaller and less heavily armed than Destroyers, normally prefixed with “F” (which may also include Corvettes).

Landing Ships: Designed to carry troops and equipment to transport ashore. May include vessels similar to an aircraft carrier. Normally prefixed with “L”.

Mine Warfare Ships: Normally prefixed with “M”

Patrol Forces: Smaller and lighter than Frigates and Corvettes, normally prefixed with “P” (which may also include Fast Attack Craft).

Service Craft: Harbour support vessels, generally not designed to go to sea. Normally prefixed with “Y”.

Submarines: Does not include non-military submersibles, which should be in the Harbor/Tour category.

If the ships are from more than one subcategory, place the photo in the Formation and group photos subcategory. If the photo includes non military ships, choose to either put in “formations and group shots” or in the Shipping category.

Please make an effort to place the ship in the correct subcategory to minimize the number of vessels in the main/root category.


This subcategory is for military vessels photos of a rare or historical nature.

It not to be used for shots of ex naval vessels now in Museums or used as pleasure craft or harbour tour boats or artificial reefs.

It is not to be used for photos uploaded solely because of the sentimental value to an ex crew member


These are similar in concept to the subcategories within the Ship Interior category, and the Shipping Company Funnel Marks category.

Wheelhouses and Engine rooms of naval vessels provide a compatible comparison with those on non-military vessels, and thus should be placed in Ship Interior category.


This is for single photos of mounted weapons systems on naval vessels, including Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV) in use by mine warfare vessels and sensors such as radars and electro optical devices.

Photos that will not be accepted include those of handguns, mobile weapons, side arms or weapons of embarked marine detachments intended for landings, and aircraft.

Flight Decks

This is for photos showing the whole or a large proportion of the flight or helicopter decks on naval vessels - the deck surface must be visible.

Photos may include maritime aircraft and helicopters - shots consisting only of aircraft detail are not accepted.

Ships Crests

This category is for crests of military vessels only

Only single photos of clear and identifiable original plaques of ships crests and/or motto attached to the superstructure, funnel or interior of the vessel, are acceptable.

Side covers of gangways with the crest on, figureheads, drawings etc., will not be accepted; and neither will original crests ashore (eg in museums).

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3. Required


Show the Country designator, Vessel name and Pennant number. 

Use the Country designator adopted by the site for consistency and clarity - usually the same as used by the relevant country. See Section 6 below Naval and Coast Guard national prefixes

Please do not enter spaces or dots between the letters in the Country designator for example H.M.S. It should be HMS with no dots or spaces as these can confuse the search. 

Also please give the full name and pennant number example HMS PORTLAND F79 in the name box with the classification F being the prefix and the pennant number 79 always being the suffix. 


1 Data from the Information Sources below. 

2. An optional repeat of the Classification and Pennant number in the Title. The pennant number will be displayed on the bow and stern of the vessel and in most cases the conning tower on submarines. When coming into port a naval vessel will in most cases fly signal flags on the yard that will be closest to the dock. If it is a “civilian” port the flags will spell the international radio call sign, while entering a “military” port or naval base it will spell their pennant number. 

3. If available the international radio call sign. 

4. Other relevant items of general interest. 

5. For Preservation subcategory photos (with the exception of relocated shots already on site) must show in the description a thorough explanation of the circumstances and reasons justifying inclusion on the site. 

DURING THE UPLOADING PROCESS, comply with the requirements of the Upload a new photo page 

Some military vessels have IMO numbers, most don’t. If the vessel has an IMO, show that in the IMO box. If it does not have an IMO, dot Not Relevant when uploading. Check for this before or during the uploading process.
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4. Information

Publications such as Jane’s Fighting Ships, and the official web sites of naval and coast guards are generally used as the “official’ arbiters of style, spelling, and classification.

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5. Site
Standards for this category


We have site standards to ensure that the Shipspotting site maintains its focus on good images of ships themselves. In addition to these general standards, some categories have specific variations. Please use the Forum to raise any queries, or contact us at [email protected]

1. Size of image: The resolution must be between 768 x 768 pixels and 10000 x 10000 pixels, files have to be jpeg format. Please make sure that the size you select to post will show a photo that is sharp at the maximum size it will visible on the site.

2. Sharpness: Images must be sharp. In a sharp image, names, windows, cranes and other ship details will be clear. Moderate digital enhancement for sharpness is acceptable, but the image must remain sharp in at least one of medium/full screen/original sizes on a screen of at least 280mm. It is accepted that older images, processed from prints, negatives or transparencies may not be as sharp as modern digital photographs, although also in may cases digital photographs will benefit from sharpening

3. Exposure: All images should be appropriately exposed to show the ship clearly, and without large white or black areas. Silhouettes are not accepted.

4. Level: The horizon must be level and verticals should appear so. The image should be straightened where necessary. Some inclination for verticals at the edges of a photo can be allowed.

5. Distortion and enhancement: Photos taken with fish eye or other lenses that produce distorted images are not allowed. Black-and-white images are accepted only if that was the original medium; similarly for colour images. All manipulation of digital images should maintain a “natural” contrast and colour. For further guidance on digital enhancement see

6. Full ships only: For all views except those specifically for part-ship categories, bows, sterns and masts should not be cropped. Bow and stern shots are acceptable if they show the vessel from the waterline to the top of the superstructure.

7. Obstructions: Foreground obstructions should not restrict the view of the ship. Equipment and other vessels that are associated with the normal working of the ship (such as container cranes, tugs or bunkering barges) are acceptable provided they do not dominate the image. For ships alongside quays, the whole length of the ship should be in sight.

8. Main subject: The ship must be the main subject. Distant views where the ship is a small part of the image are not accepted.

9. People: The incidental presence of crew, passengers or shore workers in normal activity (ie not posed) is acceptable. Photographs showing people in the foreground, or others that may invade personal privacy, are not permitted.

10. Borders and watermarks: New digital images should not have added borders. Scanned historic images may retain a border provided it is unobtrusive and not decorative. Watermarks are acceptable provided they are discreet and do not impinge on the ship image. QR electronic codes are not permitted.

11. Small boats: Unless in use by the shipping or fishing industries or public authorities, small boats of less than 20 metres/65 feet in length are not accepted.

12. Multiple photos: When posting multiple photos of the same vessel taken on the same Date, the submission must be restricted to a maximum of 4 photographs with a significant change of Aspect/Angle between the photographs.

13. Date and location of photo: These must be included in the Description, if not added from the Location and Date of photo menus on the Upload page.

14 Old photos or negative scans from members archives must comply with Site Standards. Scratches or other blemishes should be removed, which may require the use of more advanced software.


For Preservation subcategory photos

.....Each decision regarding acceptance will be subjective and no set criteria will be applied.

.....As these shots in most cases will be quite old, tolerance will be given to the application of site standards.

.....Take particular notice of Item 10 above under the heading Site Standards That Apply to All Photos

Only single photos of Armaments, Flight Decks, and Ships Crests will be accepted

*** Armaments, Flight Decks, and Crests photos have separate subcategories

*** Ships’ engine room and Wheelhouse (bridge) photos must be posted to subcategories in the site Ship Interior Category.

The change of guidelines of October 2007 and later amendments will be reflected in the admin process and photos taken prior to then will not be treated as rigorously as more recent ones.
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6. Naval
and Coast Guard Prefixes

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