Tracking the Odyssey Explorer (and Most Other Ships, Too)

If you’ve ever watched the Discovery Channel show Treasure Quest, you’ve probably seen the crew of the ship involved – the Odyssey Explorer – complaining about how their movements can be tracked online by anyone, curious laymen or professional competitors; you’ve probably seen them sail around aimlessly, in the hopes of throwing off those who’d like to know what shipwreck the group is after, and where.

The website that allows you to monitor their position in real time is Marine Traffic; the Odyssey Explorer can be tracked at this link.

If you happened to be watching the ship this weekend, you might have seen something interesting. If you were watching the ship really closely, you might have seen two interesting things…

Here’s a plot of their track late in the day Sunday night, GMT:

As you can see, the ship had been doing tight (ca 3 nautical mile) orbits off the west coast of the isle of Guernsey, in the English Channel – orbits revolving roughly around 49.4949N, 2.9416W. You can also see what you might suppose was “evasive maneuvering”, designed to throw people off the track – the zig-zagging to the south. The ship was moving slower – around 4.5 knots – during the orbits than during the southern journey, at around 5 knots.

Here’s the roughly current (ca. sunset Monday night) plot of the Odyssey Explorer:

They’re not to the same scale; this one is zoomed in a bit to show more detail. When this was taken, the Odyssey Explorer was stationary, a couple miles south of the two heavily-orbited areas – the second of which is centered around 49.4686N, 2.7892W. Thing is, this is not a completely random location, but one they’d passed over twice yesterday, during that nonchalant southern bit of zig-zagging.

Looking at these charts, you might think that something important was under either of those orbits, perhaps even the wreck of HMS Victory. My guess is they’re red herrings, and the spot the Odyssey Explorer has oh-so-nonchalantly sailed over three times in the last twenty-four hours, and is now stationary very near – 49.3573N, 2.8853W – is where all the excitement, so to speak, is at.

You can track a lot more than just treasure-hunting vessels on; while most military vessels don’t appear on the site, a fair number of USCG cutters do (search the ship listings for “CGC”, short for “Coast Guard Cutter”), and it should be fairly easy to spot when they’re performing search-and-rescue operations, from their track. The Alaskan crab fishing grounds aren’t covered by the service, but Dutch Harbor – made famous on Deadliest Catch – is, so you can at least see who’s in harbor and who isn’t. The Persian Gulf has coverage, but the Gulf of Aden and the Somali coast don’t. I’m sure there are other interesting areas, and vessels, to keep an eye on; if you come across anything really cool, be sure to let everyone know…

Published in: Geekiness, General | on April 6th, 2009| 3 Comments »

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  1. On 7/27/2009 at 12:28 pm The Dude Said:

    I would bet they are working the Victory wreck, maybe already bringing stuff up. Any Royal Navy ships with them? Seems like there would be for protection or just to keep an eye on things.

  2. On 10/12/2010 at 12:28 pm alex Said:


  3. On 5/21/2014 at 2:11 pm NIK Said: