American Bureau of Shipping
This is a largely subscription based product related to the print title mentioned earlier in this guide under American Bureau of Shipping. Their online database (some of which is searchable) provides a listing of all vessels and offshore installations currently in class with ABS, including appropriate class notations. Each listing contains the principal particulars of the vessel or installation and information on the machinery, hull, capacities, builder, owner and ABS survey particulars.
This is a subscription database available to LC patrons on site and other subscribers. There are over 1,000 images of ships (photograph or artistic rendering) as part of the Pictures section as a way for those searching to see an image of the ship their ancestors arrived on. Information with the image can include: Line sailed under, Builder, Ship type, Tonnage, Dimensions, Number of masts and funnels, Ship history, and Years in service. It isn't comprehensive but it is being updated. Most of these records are related to the immigration records from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Clarkson Research Services Ltd.
This is the publisher of the Bulk Carrier Register and the Tanker Register (see print list). They do have an online subscription component which includes vessel specific information: Type, Name, Size, Unit, Dwt, GT, Flag, Built, Month, Builder, Owner Group.
Great Lakes Ship Wreck Research
This information is specific to information on the Great Lakes. Sections include: Great Lakes Shipwreck News & Rumor, Great Lakes Maritime Books & Ephemera has a great listing of print resources covering wrecks in the Great lakes, Great Lakes Shipwreck Research Service, and the Great Lakes Maritime History Online Databases & Resources has other internet lists/projects covering shipwrecks in the great lakes. There is also a discussion and research forum.
Great Lakes Vessels Online Index
Created by Bowling Green State University it is just a part of the Historical Collections of the Great Lakes (HCGL) which collects, preserves, and makes available, historical materials documenting the Great Lakes region and connecting waterways. The Vessel Database is the end product of combining these two data formats into an online tool.
Historic Shipwrecks in the Gulf of Mexico
This information is maintained by Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) which is part of the Department of Interior. Mostly about some of the known wrecks and information on preserving and investigating wrecks. There is a short snip about some of the largest with an extensive list of citations for more research.
IHS/Fairplay – Lloyd's Register of Ships
This is a subscription based product and is an electronic equivalent/enhancement of the print title. Details on all sea-going, self-propelled merchant ships of 100 GT and above, irrespective of their classification. Data is the same as it is in the print title.
Immigrant Arrivals: A Guide to Published Sources (Library of Congress)
This is a guide produced by Local History & Genealogy staff at the Library of Congress and is intended for those researching arrivals of people into the United States.
International Maritime Organization (IMO)
The International Maritime Organization – is the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships. They are responsible for instituting the Automatic Identification System (AIS) that is used for vessels over 299GT which allows for the tracking of individual ship movements.
International Registry of Sunken Ships
The information is not online - requests are made by email. There is a wreck list group by region (north Atlantic, South Atlantic, Indian Ocean, etc.) with price information.
This is a website related to content found in the long running Journal of Commerce. There is limited free content but more detailed information is by subscription. The Global Sailing Schedules allows users can enter an origin, destination, date, carrier name to see future schedules. There is a Carrier Directory that is a useful and time saving tool that enables NVOCCs, 3PLs or anyone involved in freight forwarding, ocean shipping and importing and exporting to quickly locate carrier names, contact information, and services offered. There is also a Vessel Search enables NVOCCs, 3PLs or anyone involved in freight forwarding, ocean shipping and importing and exporting to find the names of vessels, their types, country of registry, capacities, IMO Numbers and active voyages. The JOC Ports links users to a separate product containing port information.
Library of Congress – Prints & Photographs Catalog
Includes many images – both prints and photographs – of ships and other vessels some known others anonymous.
Lloyd's Register of Ships Online
This is a free site related to the print title mentioned earlier in this guide. It is an easy access point for the Lloyd's Register of Ships which are fully accessible and searchable online. The early volumes, up to 1899, were scanned in by GoogleBooks and by The Internet Archive and can be searched by any of the fields such as ship name, master, ship owner or place of build (some of the fields may be abbreviated such as "Capt." for Captain or "Amer." for America). Those from 1930-1945 have also been scanned and can be searched by ship name(s), year of build and gross tonnage. The Register Book for 1764-66 is now available to view in PDF format. Vessels can be found in alphabetical order of ship name.
Lloyd List Intelligence
This is a subscription based product. Includes news and vessel specific information.
This is related to a print publication of the same name (other title Marine Engineering & Shipping Age) and covers shipbuilding, offshore, coastal, and shipping.
This is a subscription source that tracks the movement of ships using the Automatic Identification System (AIS) transmissions which the International Maritime Organization (IMO) requires of all vessels over 299GT. It is a participatory site with member contributions and includes many photos of specific vessels contributed by individuals.
Mystic Seaport – Museum of America and the Sea
The museum's G.W. Blunt White Library has many shipping and sea related resources including many books and periodicals. Includes information on ship plans, Connecticut Ship Database (1789-1939) and other related resources. Specific resources of interest include:
Ship Register (1857-1900) Search
Yacht register/ship register list
National Marine Sanctuaries (NOAA)
The Office of National Marine Sanctuaries serves as the trustee for a network of 14 marine protected areas encompassing more than 170,000 square miles of marine and Great Lakes waters and does include the study and oversight of shipwrecks with the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. Web page includes the publication Graveyard of the Atlantic Report that looks at North Carolina's shoreline and other topical information.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA )
Access NOAA copy of the United States Coast Guard's (USCG) vessel database and extract vessel characteristic, documentation, and ownership data. This database is updated on a monthly basis. The query program only retrieves data about vessels which are craft that are 5 net tons or larger and are documented by the USCG.
Many maritime records are regionalized. There are excel spreadsheets with vessel names and some information on the site. There is a piece about search strategies which may be helpful as well as another that has information about locations/organization of various maritime records, and Vessel Documents. Search the site using "vessel documentation" many come from the Atlanta office (includes southern ports in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi) which has put some finding aides to Records Group 26 ( Coast Guard). Coast Guard records in Chicago often include information about wrecks. Some specifics to mention are:
- Record Group 26 Coast Guard
- Record Group 36 Customs
- Passenger Lists: Microfilmed Records of the U.S. Customs Service 1820-1891 Record Group 36 Customs.
- Passenger Lists: Atlantic, Gulf, and Great Lakes Ports, 1820-1873 including Atlantic, Gulf, and Great Lakes Ports, Baltimore, Boston, New Orleans, New York, and Philadelphia.
- Record Group 41 Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation records are important but some information is kept at regional location so see Overview of Records Locations and see the finding aids at the regional locations.
National Maritime Historical Society (NMHS)
NMHS raises awareness of the nation's maritime heritage and the role seafaring has played in shaping civilization. Members include merchant mariners, ship builders, naval architects, recreational sailors, historians, educators, conservationists, preservationists, leaders of the maritime industry, military members of the sea services, and other interested in maritime history.
New Orleans Public Library – Records Relating to the Port of New Orleans
Covers activities of the port including ship arrivals and cargo. General date coverage for full collection is 1806 to 1871. It contains manuscript records, mostly in French, giving the date of arrival, name, type, and amount of levee dues for each flatboat, barge, raft, and steamboat in the port. In some cases the name of the owner or master of the vessel is also given and in some instances the cargo carried by the vessel is specified. These were part of the records kept because of the City Council, ordinance of March 21, 1806, which required the Collector of Levee Dues to keep two books, one to record ships loading and unloading in the port, and the other to record flatboats, barges, rafts, and other craft arriving therein.
Pictures of United States Navy Ships (1775-1941)
This site was created by the National Archives and includes photographs and photographs of artworks or models of ships that depict types of ships used by the Navy from the Revolutionary War period to December 7, 1941, before America's entry into the Second World War. Ships commissioned before the use of steel for ship construction was begun in 1883 are listed under Early Ships subdivided by method of propulsion, and listed thereunder chronologically by date of commissioning while ships commissioned after 1883 are listed under Modern Ships and are subdivided by general class, such as auxiliary or destroyer, and thereunder chronologically. Information for Early or Modern ships are a bit different.
Royal Museums – Greenwich
They have produced a series of guides that can help those doing research at the institutions but also those looking to better understand the published material generally. They included various guides to Lloyd's materials in guide H4 Lloyd's List Indexes, several related to the Royal Navy including those on Ship Records, several on the Merchant Navy, shipping companies, East India Company, ship sailings, and famous ships like the Titanic and the Cutty Sark.
Ships in Class
This site "provides public access to general information about the Lloyd's Register classed fleet." It is free with registration. Data included: Vessel name, LR/IMO Number,Owner, Flag, Status, Length (metres), Deadweight (tonnes), Breadth (metres), Gross tonnage (tons), Draught (metres), Classification details, Ship type, Builder, Year of build, Yard number, Country of build, and Propulsion summary.
This is a subscription database (with some free content) from Ship Index, LLC and is a gateway to information about vessels, telling you which books, magazines, and online resources mention the vessels you're researching. There are 142,804 entries in the free database and 1,384,684 entries available with premium access. Type in a ship name, for example, and you can scan through the barks, brigs and schooners down to the steam schooner you are looking for.
The Ship List
This is a source for images of ships and ports in the United States. It also includes other related information like wrecks, additional photos, etc. There is more of an emphasis on historical material.
This is a participatory site with member contributions. Some content is free but members can contribute and see more. It includes almost 2 million photographs. You can search and brows by ship type.
Smith's Master List of Maritime Museums
Mostly focused on U.S. museums like the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum and the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum (VT) which often contain ship and shipwreck records.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Navigation Data Center
This is related to print title by the name Waterborne Transportation Lines of the United States.
U.S. Coast Guard – Port State Information Exchange (PSIX)
The Port State Information Exchange (PSIX) system contains vessel specific information derived from the United States Coast Guard's Marine Information Safety and Law Enforcement System (MISLE). Includes information on U.S. flag vessels, foreign vessels operating in U.S. waters, and Coast Guard contacts with those vessels.
This is a worldwide free database of more than 165,000 wrecks with history, maritime charts and GPS positions.
Last updated: 05/09/2018