Ships of the Royal Navy by JJ College, revised and updated by Ben Wardlow, Steve Bush

Ships of the Royal Navy by JJ College, revised and updated by Ben Wardlow, Steve Bush

For once this is a book that does exactly what it says on the cover – it is a list of every warship to sail under RN Colours. This won’t therefore be a review of the book rather than a description of its contents.

To cover the best part of seven centuries requires quite a size and this book runs to 500 pages starting with an Introduction in which the various types are explained, classes of ship, number and types of cannons carried in sailing ships, building yards, early types of ship and much more. These are purely information and don’t take up much space in the book, but they help explain the nomenclature used for each vessel.


There are two full pages of abbreviations and believe me, you will be referring to these quite often if you use this book.

The main part of the book is of course, the vessels of the Royal Navy. These include trawlers used during WW1 and WW2, and there are a lot of them. The list of books is alphabetical starting with the submarines in the ‘A’ Class and ending with ZZ 3, 6 and 14, Motor M/S (minesweeper) transferring to the Dutch Navy in 1946.

A typical entry reads:

MINERVE 5th Rate 38, 1,102bm, 154 ½ x 40ft,
4-36 pdr carr, 28-18 pdr, 12-8pdr, French
Captured 24.6.1795 by LOWESTOFT and
DIDO in Mediterranean. Stranded 3.7.1803
Near Cherbourg, captured by French;
Recaptured 3.2.1810 as CANONNIERE, -
CONFIANCE. Listed until 1814.

As you can see a lot of information given in a very short, abbreviated form and this ship seemed to have had a very lively time. At approx. 30 entries per page for nearly 500 pages – there are a few ships mentioned!

This is obviously a very niche book and would be of use to the most avid of ship watcher. It is simply a superb listing of the history of the Royal Navy through their ships and to the historian this would be a straight 5 but to the normal reader this would be something to ask for at the reference/ Mess library to check up on a bit of info. I am therefore not giving this a score

A labour of love for which the original author, sadly deceased, should be congratulated as also the recent revisers.

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