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How to use Lloyd's Register of Ships


Reading an Entry

This section explains typical entries in a posted Lloyd`s Register of Ships for 1937, as will be found on this website. This is an entry for steamers and motor vessels. Entries for sailing ships differed slightly, but followed the same principles.

The amount of detail included in Lloyd`s Register of Ships has increased over the years, so when using a register for another period it is as well to check its introductory pages. These also include a key to the abbreviations used - only the most frequently used are listed here.

Page from 1937-38 Lloyd`s Register of Ships showing entry for `Queen Mary`

Page from 1937-38 Lloyd`s Register of Ships showing entry for `Queen Mary`

View transcription

Here is a list of the columns in the register, along with a description of their contents.

Part of `Queen Mary` entry from 1937-38 Lloyd`s Register of Ships

Part of `Queen Mary` entry from 1937-38 Lloyd`s Register of Ships

Number in book. For a given ship, this changes from year to year.

Official number. A number allocated to a British ship when first registered and which does not change over its British career, even if its name or owner changes.

International code signal. A unique four-character code which a ship could use to signal its name by a flag hoist or by radio.

Name of the ship. Any former names are given in brackets with the date the name changed.

P. Means the ship has a passenger certificate.

Material, rig, machinery. By 1937, most ships were steel, so only other hull materials (wood or iron) were noted. For ships which were auxiliaries, the number of masts was sometimes noted. Type of machinery and whether more than one screw [definition] is also recorded (QuadSc = quadruple screws). As steamships were the rule, it was noted if the ship had oil engines.

Number of decks. Also gave other information on the hull`s construction, such as type of stern [definition], whether machinery is aft [definition] or whether special steels were used.

Details of navigation equipment. Common abbreviations are

  • DF direction finder
  • ESD echo sounding [definition] device
  • GyC gyro compass [definition]
  • Sub.Sig. Submarine (underwater) signalling system    
Part of `Queen Mary` entry from 1937-38 Lloyd`s Register of Ships

Part of `Queen Mary` entry from 1937-38 Lloyd`s Register of Ships

Tonnages. Gross tonnage [definition] is a measure of the total enclosed space in a ship. Under deck tonnage excludes any superstructure. Net tonnage [definition] is the space available for carrying cargo or passengers - harbour and other dues are based on this figure.

Particulars of classification. Details of the classification of the ship by Lloyd`s Register. The Maltese cross symbol shows that the ship (or its machinery, if in red) was built under special survey. 100A1 indicates the character of the vessel, as assessed by the surveyor. The figures 100 or 90 do not show how long the hull is expected to last, but are comparative figures. BS and LMC indicate that the boilers and machinery were surveyed by Lloyd`s Register on the dates shown. When these columns are left blank, the ship is not classed by Lloyd`s Register.

Port of survey. For classed ships, the place of survey and the number of the survey by Lloyd`s Register are given, along with the date. Sou = Southampton.

Date when propellor shaft last inspected or renewed.

Built. For classed vessels, this is the date of launch if prior to 19th May 1887. After that it is the date of completion. Dates of any rebuilding are also given. Who built the hull and where.

Part of `Queen Mary` entry from 1937-38 Lloyd`s Register of Ships

Part of `Queen Mary` entry from 1937-38 Lloyd`s Register of Ships

Owners. For British vessels, this is the managing owner [definition] (see  Customs registers) or the largest shareholder. In brackets is the name of the managers, who are usually responsible for the day-to-day running of the ship.

Dimensions. Overall length may also be given in brackets with the abbreviation o.l. Depth is the distance from the uppermost continuous deck to the bottom of the hold. Also gives the length of the

Also noted are

  • double bottom [ definition] (DB)
  • water ballast tanks (WB)
  • forepeak tanks (FPT)
  • deep tanks (DT)
  • midships tanks (MT)    

with their capacities in tons.

Port of registry. Where the ship is registered.

Flag. Nationality of the ship.

Part of `Queen Mary` entry from 1937-38 Lloyd`s Register of Ships

Part of `Queen Mary` entry from 1937-38 Lloyd`s Register of Ships

Engine details. Type of engine: steam, oil (which means diesel) or turbines; number and dimensions of cylinders. Some of the most commonly used abbreviations are:

  • T.3Cy triple-expansion three-cylinder steam engine
  • C.2Cy compound two-cylinder steam engine
  • 2S.C. two stroke cycle oil engine
  • 4S.C. four stroke cycle oil engine
  • SA single acting oil engine
  • DA double acting oil engine
  • SR single reduction gearing [definition]
  • DR double reduction gearing (applies to turbines)    

Boiler pressure and any auxiliary or donkey boilers. Power: NHP ( nominal horsepower [definition] ) is a figure calculated from engine dimensions. Engine builders.

For instance, Queen Mary had twenty-four main boilers with superheaters (spt), working at a pressure of 425 pounds per square inch, with a heating surface (HS) of 234,000 square feet. She also had three auxiliary double-ended (DB) boilers working at 250 pounds per square inch.

Other dimensions. Moulded depth [definition] is greater than depth of the hold, and is the depth from the upper deck to the point the plates meet the keel. Freeboard is the height from the water line to the main deck. Draught [definition] is the depth of water the vessel needs to float when fully laden.

Registers in which classed. Shows if classification societies other than Lloyd`s Register have classed the vessel.

Date of Board of Trade certificate. Shows if and when a British passenger-carrying vessels received a Board of Trade Passenger Certificate.

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