A Canadian Tracks the World’s Military and Spy Ships — from His Home Office

Steffan Watkins says he’s trying to show the public that they can easily find out for themselves about military activities that authorities would rather keep quiet.

Steffan Watkins was about to go to bed last June 17 when he noticed a report about a lethal collision between a U.S. Navy destroyer and a huge container ship near Japan.

Instead of turning in, he turned to the various sources he uses to track shipping and aircraft worldwide — much of it military — to try to find out how the surprising accident occurred.

Watkins, an IT-security consultant in Ottawa, documented the minutes leading up to the mishap that killed seven aboard the USS Fitzgerald and posted it on his website, vesselofinterest.com. “It was like watching a car crash remotely.” Then he finally got some sleep.

When Watkins woke up the next day, his breakdown of the accident was causing a stir worldwide.

“I guess I was the first person to do any analysis of this, because it just lit up the next morning,” he says. “I was quoted all over the place — the Daily Mail, New York Times. It was kind of cool.”


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