Global Ship Number System
The Concept of Global Ship Numbering System

The Global Ship Number (GSN) system is designed to give every significant ship a unique identifier. For modern merchant ships, this is achieved via the Lloyds Register 7-digit number, which has also been adopted by the International Maritime Organisation. A ship carries the same number throughout its life, whatever its name or owner or flag. But warships and merchant ships that did not exist when LR started their numbering system in the mid 1960s, have no such identifier. As there can be scores of ships with the same name, neither name nor other existing characteristic like tonnage is necessarily unique. The GSN system is designed to allocate a unique 8-digit number to such ships.

For more information, take a look at Global Ship Numbering.

At present the GSN system is populated with ships from the British Shipbuilding Database.

This can be used as the first port of call when looking for information on a particular ship, since for more than a century, Britain was the world’s largest builder of seagoing ships. The present coverage is British built or engined merchant or warships over 2500 tons built before 1970 and after about 1840, but the coverage to smaller ships is being continually extended. To find out if your ship is included, and basic information on it, including Official Number for British ships, you can use the search bar above. Where you find more than one ship of the same name, it is usually possible to judge which is your ship by looking at the Build and Fate Years, ship Type and Tonnage.

For more information, take a look at British Shipbuilding Database.

System Statistics

Below are the current statistics for ships held by the GSN system:

  • GSN currently holds 15303 Ships and 33183 Records
  • Records: Total number of ship identities, including renamings and conversions.
  • Ships: Total number of actual vessels.
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