BlackSky Technology and Spire Global have teamed up to create a real-time, commercially available Maritime Custody Service that can automatically detect, identify and track more than 270 thousand vessels worldwide in open water, along rivers and canals, and while docked at port. The system uses data from Spire’s radio frequency-monitoring satellite constellation to detect emissions from maritime targets, including the ability to detect and locate dark vessels that manipulate their reported position in order to conceal nefarious activities. Then, BlackSky’s satellites automatically tip-and-cue to collect imagery and analyze the images using artificial intelligence to detect vessels, classify each vessel by type, estimate cargo and monitor change over time. “BlackSky and Spire have developed a very cost-effective and flexible vessel tracking service capable of delivering on-demand maritime intelligence at scale,” said Patrick O’Neil, chief innovation officer at BlackSky. “The unique AI-driven system reduces end-to-end latency across the entire tasking, collection, processing, exploitation, and dissemination process. With interoperability in mind, the MCS provides an easy-to-use autonomous, continuous and predictive maritime tracking capability directly into customer hands.” The companies say that monitoring global maritime activity is critical to safeguarding national security, identifying illicit ship-to-ship transfers, intercepting vessels engaged in smuggling or sanctions evasion, monitoring liquid and dry bulk commodity movements, and tracking illegal fishing in restricted areas.