Advanced Search


1. Purpose

These guidance notes and procedures are intended to ensure that the Shipspotting site can display your photograph to best advantage and provide an effective search facility for the benefit of all visitors.

If you have any queries, please use the Contact button at the top of the page.
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2. What
is the procedure for uploading?

Before your first upload, please read Site standards for photos, which set out the requirements for photos acceptable to Shipspotting, including some variations for specific categories. These are reviewed and updated from time to time, so it may be useful to revisit them. All changes are notified on the Members Forum under Site-related news, functions and modules (use link to the Forums above))

IMO numbers are of vital importance for the functioning of much of the site. If you are not certain about what they are, please see For IWT ships operating in Europe, the ENI number should be added. (


Check that the photos to be uploaded meet Site Standards. If they do not, see if they can be adjusted to comply by using photo manipulation software. Photo manipulation (sometimes called enhancement or editing) is a matter of routine for most photographers, including experienced photographers using expensive equipment. It is particularly useful for leveling a sloping horizon, or cropping, or compensating for poor light conditions, or when there has been camera shake. We have a short guide to Photo Manipulation in the FAQ menu.

Prepare the information that you will need. For commercial vessels, many use the Equasis site for useful information about vessels, including IMO numbers, correct names, age and ship type. The Marine Traffic site has data for each vessel that can be copied to the Description and to the Title box. This is a means of correctly spelling the vessel name and avoiding typos


After Login, open the My Photos link below your login name. To upload a photo, select “Upload a new photo” which will present you with a blank submission form.
First attach your photo file using the Browse button
Note that most of the boxes on the submission form require action, as below.

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3. What
should I put in the Title Box?

Normally, only the vessel name should be placed in the Title box (except for Mystery ships, Harbour overview and Shipping Companies’ Funnel marks categories). For a few categories additions are required – for example fishery hull numbers for fishing vessel categories, or national prefixes and pennant numbers for military vessels. These additions are all explained under the relevant Category guidance.

To assist effective searching by members and for consistency, please use only the standard 26-letter English-language alphabet, preferably in upper case ("SPIRIT OF FREE ENTERPRISE" - preferred) or English title case (eg "Spirit of Free Enterprise". But please feel free to add the name in the relevant national script in the Description box.

Correct spelling is important also to ensure that your photo is properly linked to others – please pay particular attention to the difference between “2” and “II”, and note that the official register version takes preference over what may be painted on the ship, particularly regarding punctuation and abbreviations. For merchant ships, the version used on Equasis or Marine Traffic is usually that used on Shipspotting. Please use only one space between words or numbers in the name. Some members first paste the Equasis or Marine Traffic information to the Description box, and then copy the name from there to the Title box. If in doubt, please ask.

An IMO number must not be placed in the Title Box as it will be added automatically.
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4. What
should I put in the IMO box?

This box can only be used for an IMO number of seven digits. If the ship has no identified IMO number, the Irrelevant box must be ticked. For example, most Military Ships, inland vessels, sailing vessels, smaller yachts and fishing vessels do not have IMO numbers. As IMO numbers became operational only during the mid-sixties, older ships that scrapped or lost before that period, will have no IMO number.

The IMO number may be found from Marine Traffic, Equasis or other reliable sources such as Alternatively, you can find the IMO number from another photo of the same ship already on this site. For newer ships, just typing the name and the word ship in Google or any other search program will give you the number. To cross check whether the search result is correct, check the IMO number in Google and see what ship will come up.

Please do not enter other types of number, such as Miramar internal ID numbers or national official numbers.

For photos with more than one ship see section 8 below.

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5. What
should I put in the Pennant Number box?

For Military vessel categories, as well as Coastguard and Law Enforcement and relevant vessels in subject categories (eg casualties or ship scrapping), the hull or pennant number should be entered, including any ship type prefix, without spaces, for example D36 or FFG40.

Please leave empty if irrelevant.
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6. What
should I put in the ENI Number box?

ENI numbers are a unique numbering system for commercial inland vessels operating in Europe. They consist of eight digits, of which the first three are a national code. See
For more details, see the Inland Vessels category.

Please leave empty if irrelevant.
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7. What
should I put in the Description Box?

If you are unable to add the port location using the box below you must add it here. Also if the date of the photo is not known exactly, the most best possible dating must be added (for example \"August 2015\", \"1999\" or \"1960s\")

You are welcome to put as much or as little additional information about the ship as you wish (although you must add something).

Many members and visitors are interested to read more about the history of the ship and the activity or location depicted. Such information could include description of the vessel, its trading patterns or ownership, or its cargo. Any of the mandatory information from other boxes (eg IMO, ship type, date and location where the photo was taken) may also be shown here. Or you may ask questions here if you unsure about the correct information.
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8. Selection
of Category

Select the category from the drop-down menu with care as it is important to members making searches

Some ship-types have been divided by more specific function, such as year range or size into subcategories. The most specific category for the image should be chosen.


If there are two or more vessels of different categories.
Use the Shipping category except that where one vessel is dominant in the image compared with the others such as an attending tug or bunkering tanker, upload to the main vessel’s category. If vessels from different categories are equally important to the image, upload to the Shipping category. Enter the IMO for the most prominent vessel in the image. Ensure that the prominent vessel name is the last one mentioned in the Title box so that it will appear next to the IMO.

Show all vessel names and IMOs in the Description box.

If there are two or more vessels of the same ship type.
With the exception of the categories noted below, upload to the category or subcategory for that ship type. If the photo shows several vessels that are from different subcategories within a category, upload it to the main category - not a subcategory. Enter the IMO for the most prominent vessel in the image. Ensure that the prominent vessel name is the last one mentioned in the Title box so that it will appear next to the IMO.

Show all vessel names and IMOs in the Description box.

Upload to the subcategory Bulkers Including More Than One Ship.

Fishing Vessels.
Upload to the subcategory Overview - Fishing Fleets

General Cargo Ships.
Upload to the subcategory General Cargo Ship Photos, More Than One Ship.

Military Vessels.
Upload to subcategory Formation and Group Shots

In the case of an area with many ships anchored, with no harbour facilities clearly seen, ensure that the photo is placed in the Shipping category, not in the Harbour Overviews category. The photo must comply with the Photo Standard requiring the ships to be the main subject and details of at least some ships must be visible. Distant views and shots where the ships are a small part of the image are not acceptable.

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9. Selection
of Location

Begin typing the port or other area where the photo was taken and suggestions will normally drop down for selection.

If “No Ports Found!” appears, or if the photo is taken away from any port, please tick the Unknown box and add detail of the location to the Description box.
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10. Selection
of Date of Photo

Use the calendar provided to select the date the photo was taken.

If you do not know the date, tick the Unknown box and add the best precision that you can to the Description box.


Your work is done! Tick the box agreeing to the site conditions and press the Upload Photo button.
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11. How
many photos of a vessel can be posted at the same time?

When taking a batch of photos of the same vessel on the same date, the submission must be restricted to a maximum of 4 photographs, with a significant change of aspect or angle between the images. This is facilitated by the possiblilty to upload 4 photographs in one go, whereby you only need to fill out the data once.
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12. What
if I do not know the name or type of the vessel?

If you don't know the name of the vessel, you are welcome to post the photograph to the site in the Mystery Ships category. Please add as much information as you can in order that the membership can try to identify the vessel. An informative title, such as ‘Unknown Japanese Tanker’ or ‘Unknown tug at Singapore’, is preferred to just ‘Unknown’.

If you have the name but cannot find the ship's category, please add your photo to the subcategory "Ships to be reclassified/waiting identity details".

Please watch your photo or the comments page at and when a ship is firmly identified it should be moved to the appropriate category, with the required details inserted, provided the image meets Shipspotting’s Photo Standards. Otherwise it should be deleted. For more explanation see
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13. What
if duplicate photos are posted?

Duplicate (identical) images are occasionally uploaded, usually by error without member awareness. If you discover that you have loaded a duplicate, use the Edit Photo link just above one of the images. On the resulting page there is a Delete photo button.

If a duplicate is discovered by Admin, it will be removed without the usual deletions process being followed (see FAQ on Deletions).
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14. If
an uploaded photo does not appear on the site, what should I do?

First wait for a few minutes. The site may be temporarily slow.

Then try again. Then check My Photos to ensure that the photo has not been added to the site more than once. If so, delete all but one image.
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15. Why
are photos deleted?

Photos are deleted for non compliance with site standards. Frequent reasons include those listed below.

* Horizon is not level

* Image too dark for details of ship to be seen.

* Full vessel not shown, eg just a bow or stern section etc.

* Blurred or out of focus image.

* The ship is not the main subject focus in the image i.e. where scenery is dominant, or people are seen posing in front of the vessel

* Duplicate images taken at the same time have been uploaded, possibly without member awareness. These may be deleted without the usual process being followed - see below.

* Large watermarks cover the main subject image.

SEE SEPARATE FAQ titled \"Site Standards for Photos\"
SEE SEPARATE FAQ titled \"Watermarks\"
SEE FAQ BELOW titled \"What is the considered for deletion process?\"
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16. What
is the considered for deletion (CFD) process?

In case Admins encounter photos that have been uploaded and do not meet the site standards (for a variety of reasons), the photo will be considered for deletion (CFD), whereby the admin will indicate the primary reason for potential deletion. Once a photo has entered the category: "Considered for deletion", it will only be visible for Admins and the photographer concerned.

When this is done, the photographer will automatically receive a private message regarding the change in status of his uploaded photo. The photographer will have the opportunity to react to the suggestion made by the admin. If he agrees, he can delete the shot himself, if not a discussion can start how to deal with the shot. As the discussion will be out of sight from the other users, it can take place in a quiet and friendly atmosphere, without external interference.

Depending on the reason for the possible deletion, the Admins can propose various solutions to prevent this, all to be discussed with the photographer and only applied with his permission.

Several admins are quite capable of enhancing photos to a level where site standards can be met. This involves simple actions such as leveling horizons, sharpening and cropping in case the resolution of a photo results in a non-sharp version when shown at full size.

Also more elaborate activities can be undertaken such as editing out obstructions (within limits of course), color adjustments and for analogue photos the removal of scratches and blemishes. Editing of a photo can be easily done via the re-upload function, also available to the photographer. If the photographer has the software and the skills, he, of course can do that by himself, whereby the result will be reviewed by the Admins

In other words there are several ways in which admins can help to make a photo acceptable.

In this way a proper and balanced judgement about a photo can be guaranteed, resulting in either a deletion of the photo, or acceptance, whereby the CFD will be resolved, and the (adjusted) shot becomes visible again for all users. Actual deletions can only be done by the (Vice)Webmaster(s). Resolving a CFD can also be done by the Admin(s) involved in the discussion.

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17. Will
photos remain on the site indefinitely?

Not necessarily. Reviews are made by category Admins from time to time and may result in a transfer to the Consider for deletion category, with a reason stated in the Description.

The reason will refer to published site standards, as current at the time of the review, EXCEPT for

Item 1 re resolution. This has been upload screen controlled for some time. Photos previously on the site may remain if all other site standards, as varied below, are met.

Item 8 re sloping horizons. This will not be strictly applied for photos uploaded in 2008 and earlier years. It was 2009 before photo manipulation was generally accepted as normal practice,

Item 9 re date and location data. This will not be strictly applied for photos uploaded in 2008 and earlier years. Because of the level of Admin resources available at that time.

and ... q/index.php?cat_id=1#q134

Before any photo is deleted the Webmaster or his delegate must agree with a category Admin. Each decision regarding deletion of old photos will be subjective, but follow the Criteria and Exceptions guidelines below.
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18. Criteria
for deletion of old photos

Photos are not considered for deletion only because they are old.

Reviews are not made only for the purpose of identifying photos that do not meet current site standards. They occur when a category needs a subcategory classification variation, or when there has been an absence of Admin resource.

Site standards have varied, and will continue to vary. The variations are made after Admin group discussion and experience. For the volunteer Admin group of more than 20 people, it is not practical to keep a list of changes and apply them only to photos accepted after the date of introduction of the change. Some changes are minor, for example when the wording of a FAQ is improved for clarity, or to extend criteria for acceptance. If a significant change is made, members will be advised in the Forum.

The reasons for considering deletion of old photos may include one or more than one of the following:-

…..The photo may be of such poor quality that the vessel characteristics cannot be seen.

…..There may be other better photos on the site of the same ship in the same time period.

…..The photo may not have been reviewed when uploaded, because of the lack of Admin resource.

…..The photo may be in blatant breach of site standards

The uploading member will be advised of the reason for the deletion. It is expected that members will have kept the source image in their own files.
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19. Exceptions
to Site Standards

There are occasions when current published site standards are not relevant, and will be waived by a judgment agreed between a category Admin and the Webmaster or his delegate. For example:-

…..Shots of historical value may be retained, even if the quality is poor or the resolution is low.

…..Photographs of ships doing unusual tasks in unusual places may be retained.

…..A poor image may be retained when there is no other photo of the vessel on the site,

…..Research and interest values of the site may determine that a photo should remain.

The reason for waiving site standards will be added to the Description for the photo. The initials of the Admin who made the decision may be shown.

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