The British Royal Navy has been around since the 16th century and over that time has lost its fair share of warships to accidents and enemy fire. In fact the full list of lost Royal Navy vessels is over 5,000. Working with the Maritime Archaeology Sea Trust, it has compiled a full list of the thousands of vessels it has lost over the centuries and has released the searchable database to the public for use in further research.
The new Royal Navy Loss List covers about 5,100 warships and fleet auxiliaries lost in Britain’s naval service since 1512. It is limited to the Royal Navy’s own vessels – not Royal Air Force, Army, Coastguard and merchant vessels which may have had Royal Navy crewmembers. It excludes ships captured by the enemy, lost in the service of other navies or converted to merchant vessels after their naval service.
Created by the Trust in 2011, the list was originally intended to help legal and conservation experts protect Royal Navy wrecks around the globe. Its authors gradually realized that it would be of great interest to the general public and to other historians, and they have now made it accessible to all.
The database is searchable by a ship’s name, class, and tonnage. More specific queries – like vessels lost in French waters over the past 500 years (760) or the number of ships lost on D-Day (416) – are also possible.
The database draws on official records, reference works, memoirs and eyewitness accounts. Archaeological reports and diver accounts were used to verify information on the survival of vessel remains.