About the Registers

National Register of Historic Vessels (NRHV)

There are currently over 1,000 vessels on the National Register of Historic Vessels (NRHV).  The database includes details of designer, builder, dimensions, construction, propulsion, service history, current location and ownership, as well as images of many of the vessels.

The Register provides an overview of the UK's extant historic vessels and can be used to identify and prioritise significant vessels that should be conserved, provide guidance to decision-makers on the allocation of funding, and give an early warning of ships 'at risk'.  The database can also be a useful research tool, although confidential information about ownership is always kept secure.

Over 57% of historic vessels recorded on the NRHV are either privately owned or commercially operated. Museums and charitable trusts account for 14% of the total.

For frequently asked questions about the National Register of Historic Vessels, please click here.

The National Historic Fleet (NHF)

The National Register of Historic Vessels (NRHV) contains a sub-group of vessels - those which comprise The National Historic Fleet. There are currently some 200 vessels in the Fleet which are distinguished by:

  • being of pre-eminent national or regional significance
  • spanning the spectrum of UK maritime history
  • illustrating changes in construction and technology
  • meriting a higher priority for long term conservation.

The National Historic Fleet may also include vessels from the National Small Boat Register which are a minimum of 50 years and which fit the above criteria.  The composition of the National Historic Fleet is reviewed on a regular basis and the methodology used to select vessels for inclusion in the Fleet has been re-assessed as part of the Year of the Registers 2011-2012.

The Overseas Watch List (OWL)

The Overseas Watch List (OWL) is comprised of:

- Vessels of UK significance abroad

OWL features significant vessels which were built and operated in this country, and then sold abroad.  Being outside the UK they do not qualify for registration, but holding information on these and similar vessels is important as we are often consulted on them. 

- Vessels previously registered on the NRHV

OWL also includes vessels previously registered on the NRHV which have now migrated abroad or have left the UK for a period in excess of 3 consecutive months.  Owners should let us know of any relocation of this kind so we can amend the status accordingly.

(Previously registered- only vessels on OWL are entitled to fly our House Flags and Defaced Ensigns.  Please see our Sales page.)

The National Archive of Historic Vessels (NAHV)

The National Archive of Historic Vessels (NAHV) contains details of over 400 vessels previously on the NRHV which have now been broken up or lost, or whose owners have been out of contact for a considerable period.  The NAHV also contains details of some vessels which do not fit the NRHV criteria (in particular the age criterion) but which nevertheless have the potential of joining the NRHV at a later date because of exceptional historical significance.