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How to use the Mercantile Navy List


Mercantile Navy List includes only British ships. Ships owned in most empire or later Commonwealth countries are included, but coverage of smaller ships owned in the Indian subcontinent is poor.

A difficulty when tracing a vessel`s history in Mercantile Navy List is following the ship when its name changes, or it is removed from the list because it is scrapped, wrecked or sold abroad. `Posted [definition]` editions of Lloyd`s Register of Ships give enough details of such changes to follow the trail, but with Mercantile Navy List it is necessary to search the monthly supplements, copies of which are only in a few libraries and only for years since 1947. For this reason, it is easier to trace a ship`s history through Lloyd`s Register of Ships and turn to Mercantile Navy List if this fails.

Mercantile Navy List will usually give only one or two owners of a particular ship, whereas shares in that ship may be owned by up to 64 individuals (and sometimes more). The way to trace all these owners is through the Customsregisters.


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