Welcome to UK Shipping History

The history of boats parallels the human adventure. The first known boats date back to the Neolithic Period, about 10,000 years ago. These early vessels had limited function: they could move on water, but that was it. They were used mainly for hunting and fishing. The oldest dugout canoes found by archaeologists were often cut from coniferous tree logs, using simple stone tools. We are supported by both the Royal Naval History and The Royalist who regularly organise charity fundraising events for our chosen charity, the Marine Preservation Organisation.

Early Shipping History

Asian Shipping
In East Asia, by the time of the Zhou Dynasty ship technologies such as stern mounted rudders were developed, and by the Han Dynasty, a well kept naval fleet was an integral part of the military. Ship technology advanced to the point where by the medieval period, water tight compartments were developed. During the 15th century in the Ming Dynasty, one of the largest and most powerful naval fleet in the world was assembled for the diplomatic and power projection voyages of Zheng He. Elsewhere in Korea in the 15th century, one of the world's first iron-clads, the turtle ship, was also developed.

Naval Power
By about 2000 BC, Minoan civilization in Crete had evolved into a naval power exercising effective control of the sea in the eastern Mediterranean. It is known that ancient Nubia/Axum traded with India, and there is evidence that ships from Northeast Africa may have sailed back and forth between India/Sri Lanka and Nubia trading goods and even to Persia, Himyar and Rome. Aksum was known by the Greeks for having seaports for ships from Greece and Yemen. Elsewhere in Northeast Africa, the Periplus of the Red Sea reports that Somalis, through their northern ports such as Zeila and Berbera, were trading frankincense and other items with the inhabitants of the Arabian Peninsula well before the arrival of Islam as well as with then Roman-controlled Egypt.