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Lloyd's Register of Ships and how it developed

What Lloyd`s Register of Ships aims to do

Lloyd`s Register of Ships was originally a guide for merchants and insurers on the condition of ships they employed or insured. But the publishers realised that others in the shipping industry needed to know about ships. For instance, port authorities needed to know a ship`s tonnage to charge it harbour dues, and lawyers might want to know its owners because of a legal dispute. So Lloyd`s Register of Ships grew in coverage until it became best and most respected single source of information on ships of the world. The parent body, Lloyd`s Register, has grown too. As well as publishing the Register, it sets rules and regulations for building and maintaining ships and surveys them to ensure they meet these standards. The annual editions of Lloyd`s Register of Ships have been kept updated in several ways. For many years subscribers in London could have their copies `posted` each week, with alterations being made by stickers or printing over entries. Details of new or renamed ships were added to pages left blank for the purpose. `Posting` also indicated if a vessel had been lost or scrapped.

Printed supplements to Lloyd`s Register of Ships were sent out weekly or monthly. They included entries for new vessels or for ones whose details have changed, and list other changes alphabetically by vessel. As well as the main register, there are additional volumes, which have had various names and contents over the years.

List of Shipowners

First published in 1876, the List of Shipowners was originally bound in with one of the other volumes. Since 1955 it has been published as a separate volume.


First published in 1890, it includes:
  • former names of ships (very useful for tracing ships which had changed names)
  • index to names composed of two or more words (compound names)
  • shipbuilders and a list of existing ships they had built (from 1895 yard numbers were listed)
  • marine engineering companies
  • alphabetical list of vessel`s signal letters
  • details of harbour and port facilities around the world    


Published from 1958/9 to 1965/6, it contained details of shipbuilders, marine engine builders and boilermakers. It also listed docks, telegraphic addresses and marine insurance firms.

Lloyd`s Register of Ships Subsidiary Sections

Published from 1978/9 to 1983/4, it contained details of ship-borne barges, docking installations, liquefied gas carriers, refrigerated cargo installations and containers and refrigerated stores and container terminals classed with Lloyd`s Register.

Maritime Guide

First published in 1984, includes other material previously in the Appendix, including:
  • lists of harbour and port installations (with maps)
  • signal letters
  • details of ship and engine builders (with existing ships listed by shipbuilder)    

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