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Know Your Ships 2024

More than just a boatwatching guide...

Know Your Ships has 200 pages bursting with color photos of lakers past and present and is meant not only for those with a casual interest in the parade of nautical commerce that passes our shores, but also for more serious-minded individuals who have a passion for the ships that ply the inland seas. Some refer to the annual Know Your Ships as the "Boatwatchers' Bible," and we think of it as a field guide to boats and boatwatching on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway.


Know Your Ships offers everything ship fans need to know about the freighters, tankers, tugs, barges, salties, passenger ships, international visitors and other vessels in regular Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway, including owner and port of registry, year and shipyard where built, length, beam, depth, cargo capacity and former names, type of engine and horsepower.


Our cover image

The cover of the 2024 edition was taken by Andrew Russell of Detroit, Michigan. The photo shows the mailboat J. W. Westcott II delivering “mail by the pail” to the CSL St-Laurent as it passes by Detroit. The J. W. Westcott Co. marks its 150th anniversary of servicing vessels on the Detroit River in 2024, and this edition of KYS highlights the history of the company and the people that make it go. 

What else?

The book features more than 100 pictures taken by photographers and fans from all over the Great Lakes region. Through the lenses of our photographers, Know Your Ships 2024 tells the story of Great Lakes shipping and the changes that have taken place since our last edition. This includes the arrival of new vessels, unique cargoes and port calls, and the retirement of old ships. Thanks to the dozens of different photographers who submitted images for consideration! 

The book also includes meanings of whistle signals, seven pages of colorful stack markings of all Great Lakes & Seaway fleets, including stack markings of many of the saltwater fleets that regularly visit the Seaway system, maps of the Great Lakes and Seaway system, a guide to Marine Museums of the Great Lakes, an Extra Tonnage section that includes a look at cargoes carried by lakers, a locks and canals profile, and charts that show travel times and call-in points for the St. Marys, St. Clair and Detroit Rivers so you can track the progress of your favorite freighter.



This year, in addition to the Westcott anniversary, we place our spotlight on McKeil Marine’s new Northern Venture and its innovative single-point loading system, and look back on the career of the historic barge Joseph H. Thompson. We also feature perspectives from Great Lakes mariners and pilots, highlight cargo trends, and take a look at the River-class vessels of 1974.



In addition, we continue to remember the past with a historic photo gallery featuring more images from our archives showing lakers from bygone years. You might recognize some of the ships in the historic photo gallery as vessels that have recently been retired.



Know Your Ships has covered the waterfront for more than six decades, so we have lots of images from which to choose. Our team has enjoyed putting the 2024 edition together and we hope our fans enjoy using it to find out more about the ships that sail the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway. Smooth sailing!


Want more Know Your Ships? Stay tuned on our social media pages and our website for information on when the next edition of Know Your Ships: Extra will be released!

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Know Your Ships 2024 - Perfect bound


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Know Your Ships 2024 - Spiral bound



Standard and Spiral
Bundle both covers and save!

Know Your Ships 2024 bundle


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