Life at sea

Gain a fascinating insight into the lives of sailors and seamen throughout history. From the protocols of the Royal Navy to the traditions, customs and working lives of 18th and 19th century crewmen, we explore what life was really like on the high seas.

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Alan Villiers was a distinguished sailor, author and photographer. His work vividly records the period of early 20th century maritime history.

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Our uniform collection holds over 7000 items, including items owned by Admiral Nelson, Edward VII and Admiral John Arbuthnot Fisher. 

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Poor records mean the valuable contribution of Asian crew members to Britain's mercantile fleet have often remained hidden. However new crew lists found in our archives promise huge potential for future research. 

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It will be five years this July that our team of Navy Board In-letters volunteers: Derek, Roger, Terry, David, John and Fred, have so far provided full page summaries to seventy-six of our volumes from the archive. This is over more than double what had been achieved only two years ago.

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The shipping industry produces 940 million tonnes of CO2 every year. Could a new era of wind power help make global trade more sustainable?

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We get a fascinating insight into life on board a Royal Navy aircraft carrier in the inter-war years.

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The gold lace on naval officers’ uniforms has traditionally be used to indicate rank. But what are its origins?

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Get up close to the actual uniform Admiral Nelson was wearing when he was fatally wounded at the Battle of Trafalgar.

Lieutenant's logbook for HMS Temeraire 1803-1809

Artist and writer John Kelly delves into the fascinating history of the ship's log and the many experiences and discoveries it has recorded.

Oil Tanker

This item of the month is a 1970s journal kept by the merchant navy’s first female navigating cadet, 18 year old Nina Baker on board British Petroleum (BP) Tanker Vessel British Willow. Nina’s journal influenced me to explore women’s developing role in the merchant navy during the second half of the 20th Century and beyond.

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