This page displays images of the Mercantile Navy List (MNL) which was published annually from 1849 to 1977 and, from 1857, provides a complete list of all British registered vessels afloat at that time.
MNL shows the ships' official numbers and port of registry. Apart from the early editions, the lists also show brief details of the vessels and their owners. For more details of MNL, please see here: Mercantile Navy List
The CLIP image viewer accesses images from several sources, so you can browse through one edition of MNL, move to a different section (sail, steam or motor), change to another year, or change the name of the vessel to search for. You can search for the entries for a particular ship, and browse through page-by-page. For editions after 1870, MNL was divided into two sections - steam and sail and, from 1921 onwards, a section for motor vessels was added.
Enter the name of the ship, or at least the initial letter.
Choose the year that you wish to search.
If you are not sure about whether the ship you are looking for was a steamer, a motor vessel or a sailing ship, choose steam to start with and you can easily swap to another section if that is not right.
One clue is that steamers were often prefixed or suffixed with 'SS' (Screw Steamer, or Steam Ship) or 'PS' (Paddle Steamer), while motor vessels were identified by MV. The composition of the crew may also help - firemen and stokers mean a steam ship. Ships which had auxilliary power may appear in more than one section. Steam engines were sometimes converted to sail and vice-versa, so appear in different sections in different years. To be sure, look for the ship in all available sections.
If you are not sure of the year to search, choose a likely year to start with and you will be able to scan through year by year using the control on the image viewer.
For a list of the abbreviations used in MNL for sailing vessels, see the first page of the sail section of each year. For more details and links, see our page, here: Types of sailing ships
There are more details about using the viewer in an additional notes file on that page.
On the image viewer, the source of the images is shown on the right side of the title bar, with a link to the appropriate home page. We are most grateful to the Digital Archives Initiative at Memorial University, Newfoundland, and to the Vaughan Evans Library at the Australian National Maritime Museum for permission to link to images from their sites. We display images from other sites on the basis that they are in the public domain and/or creative commons. If we have unwittingly infringed copyright, we apologise - please contact us using the link on the menu bar above so that we can take appropriate action.
Our own CLIP images were made at the Maritime Collection at Southampton Central Library, the Bartlett Library at the National Maritime Museum, Cornwall in Falmouth, Gwynedd Archives Service in Caernarfon and Gwynedd Archives Service in Dolgellau. We are most grateful to the staff of these repositories for their kind help.
We have tried hard to present the images as well as possible, but obviously we can take no responsibility for the images from other sources. Some of the images are missing, partially missing, blurred, or rotated so that they are difficult to view. Some editions are so tightly bound that it is not possible to make good images of the gutter margin of some pages. We apologise for any difficulties this may cause. We have tried to remedy this where we can, but we feel that those images are still worth displaying.