Catalogue description Admiralty, and Ministry of Defence, Navy Department: Ships' Logs

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Details of ADM 53
Reference: ADM 53
Title: Admiralty, and Ministry of Defence, Navy Department: Ships' Logs

These logs were books maintained by the Officer of the Watch for every ship of the Royal Navy in commission. They provide a permanent and consecutive daily record of the ships movements and position, recording all wheel and telegraph orders, weather encountered and other events, such as the employment of the ship's company, any deaths on board, disciplinary action (i.e. the reading of punishment warrants), loss or damage to stores and any other items of interest, such as visits by dignitaries of foreign officers. Logs were not kept by ships under major refit, which account for some gaps in sequence.

PLEASE NOTE: selections of digitised log books for key periods and shipping lanes are available on the external UK Colonial Registers and Royal Navy Logbooks (CORRAL) project dataset site.

Date: 1799-2008

The lists are maintained on an annual basis where possible, and under each ship alphabetically by months. (Prior to World War II, some of the vessels were listed alphabetically, with several years logs in each sequence, especially in the 19th century. During the 1930s batches, the lists contain two years of logs.) Any logs, out of sequence due to being retained as exhibits in Boards of Enquiry or Courts Martial proceedings, are placed at the beginning of each new annual batch and cross-referred where possible in the Standard list set. (Note that in this electronic catalogue some redundant cross-references have been removed). Where sequences are not consecutive, this could be due to either the ship being lost (in the War years), paying off or re-commissioning after extended refit, or on commissioning from the building yard. Explanations of some of the anomalies in more recent years are given where possible.

Separated material:

Whilst all ships logs are continued for 1939 and the early months of 1940, thereafter, the majority of logs for ships smaller than cruisers appear not to have survived for the remaining war years.

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English

Admiralty, 1832-1964

Board of Admiralty, 1708-1964

Ministry of Defence, 1947-

Physical description: 211681 files and volumes
Access conditions: Open unless otherwise stated
Immediate source of acquisition:

From Ministry of Defence

From Board of Admiralty


Accruals: Series is accruing.
Administrative / biographical background:

Ships' logs were inspected weekly by the Captain, then sent to the appropriate Administrative Authority, before being forwarded to the Head of the Record Office at the Admiralty.

From April 1967, a new ship's log came into use, which was similar in size and format to the minor vessels' log. The changeover to the new logs took some time to occur, so some vessels continued to use the larger logs for some time after 1967.

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