Search for ships by official number

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This page is an index of ships by official number drawn from the primary records of British shipping from 1855 to the 1950s.

All British ships were registered at one of the hundreds of ports of registry around Britain and the then British Colonies. From 1855 onwards, each ship was allocated an official number. These numbers provided a unique reference and they are still used by modern archives as a means of identification of documents.

The index shows the ship's name(s) and ports of registry, with links to other data such as the location of crew list holdings and clear references to the sources of our data.

The database includes every British registered ship from 1855 to the early 1950s with official numbers 1 to 200000. It was last updated on 6th May 2023 and contains 794743 entries.

For a full explanation of the records of British shipping, please see our information page: Records of British ships

How to search for ships by official numbers

On the search form, enter the ship's official number in the range from 1 to 199550. This should be a pure number without wild-cards such as '*', '%', '?'.

Then click .

Reading the results

The results show the names given to that ship and her ports of registry, together with other details such as tonnage.

The source of our information is shown in all cases, with links to images of documents or to archive catalogues wherever possible. For example, the icons link to images of the Appropriation Books or the exact Mercantile Navy List page. You can check our data for yourself.

Using the results

Below the results table, there are links to the MHA and CLIP indexes of crew lists and agreements.

Below again is a link which opens a list of further links to other sites which may have data for this official number.

Where there is a Board of Trade enquiry report - a 'Wreck Report' - relating to the ship, we provide a link to the Southampton City Library site which has transcripts and images of these documents. Where the ship's official number and/or port of registry is not shown (or is incorrect in the report), we have deduced it from the other information in the report, in which case we have shown it in square brackets like this: [12345] of [London].

Many thanks to Sid Barnett for helping to compile this wrecks index.

Data sources

The sources of the data are:

Please see our general information page CLIP data for more details on sources, methodology, the abbreviations we have used, and acknowledgements.

Be aware! Discrepancies between sources are common: we transcribe 'as seen'. This provides a range of versions of the ship's name, which makes it more likely to find it when searching by name. Where the original source probably contains an error, such as a typo, we have marked our transcription with  ? . However, it is up to you to decide which you think is the definitive version.