Collections at National Museum of the Royal Navy


The National Museum of the Royal Navy tells the epic story of the Royal Navy, its impact on Britain and the world from its origins in 625 AD to the present day. To tell this story the museum holds the most comprehensive collection of Royal Naval heritage in the United Kingdom. It covers both the folk memory of those who have served, and the corporate memory of the Royal Navy and its branches. Significant material is held which is unique to the navy and captures a unique Royal Naval tradition and distinctive ethos.

The collections have an incredible range of material from small items to large Historic Ships, and numbers over 2,500,000 individual items. This varies from figureheads, flags, ship’s crests, Royal Marines colours, Submarine Service Jolly Rogers, service personnel oral histories, personal diaries, and nose art from aircraft. 

The art collection includes over 4,500 oil paintings, watercolours, drawings, and prints. Its most distinctive works were created by artists who either served in the Royal Navy’s different branches, or were given unique access to the navy. Some of these can be viewed online on the Art UK website.

The museum’s significant collection of Historic Ships also forms part of the National Historic Fleet. This includes: HMS Alliance (A Class Submarine); Holland 1 (Submarine); HMS Caroline (Light Cruiser); HMS Victory (Ship of the Line); HMS M33 (Monitor); Landfall (ex-Landing Craft Tank LCT 7074); and  HMS Trincomalee (Frigate).

Two major technological collections are also held by the museum held at the Fleet Air Arm Museum and at Explosion – Museum of Naval Fire Power. These respectively include over 100 aircraft and 10,000 supporting parts and equipment; and guns, missiles, torpedoes and small arms.

A significant collection of archives, photographs and library are also held by the museum and include over 2,000,000 individual items. These collections include personnel records from key branches of the Royal Navy, personal collections including journals, letters and diaries from the American War of Independence in 1776 to Afghanistan in 2003, and rich photographic collections.

Much of the collections have been generously donated by members of the public. If you are interested in possibly donating material to the collection please see our page on ‘Offers of material to Collections’.

If you would like to research or have any questions about our collections including requests for reproductions please see our ‘make an enquiry’ page.

HMS Hermes returning from the Falklands