AIS vessel tracking has come of age in the 15 years since MarineTraffic was set up in Greece as a free website by founder IT academic Dimitris Lekkas.

Its launch came as the International Maritime Organization extended the AIS system to allow lower-cost B-type devices after initially mandating that about 100,000 vessels on international voyages fit a Class A-type transceiver in 2002 as part of its safety at sea rules.

Part set up by crowdsourcing, interest in the website quickly mushroomed and its free services are now accessed by 5m users monthly, and its paid-for base exceeds 15,000 customers.