Crew Research Guides

P&O ships have employed many thousands of
crew and shore staff across the world

1941 - 1972: Fifth Register of Merchant Seamen 

In 1941 the Essential Work (Merchant Navy) Order created a Merchant Navy Reserve Pool. To ensure that seamen would always be available for service, the Government paid them to remain in the Reserve Pool when they were ashore. Thus continuous paid employment instead of casual employment was available to all seamen, and comprehensive and effective registration became possible. 

All those who had served at sea during the previous five years, and those who were intending to serve during WWII, were required to register.  A new Central Register of Seamen (known as the Fifth Register of Seamen), was established.  CR 1 and CR 2 cards of seamen who were still serving in 1941 were removed from the old Fourth Register (see previous section), placed in 'pouches' BT 372 (see section on Seamen’s Pouches) or re-sorted into BT 364 and their details carried forward to the new register in BT 382 located at The National Archives.  The Fifth Register of Seamen was maintained until 1972, although occasionally records after this date can be found. 

The series BT 382 holds CRS10 Docket books which form the Register.  These dockets create a sea service record for each registered seaman.  They are arranged alphabetically within eight parts:

Part 1: Covering mainly Europeans and British Dependent Territories Seamen, originally for the period 1941 to 1946, but later service records can be found covering seamen who started their sea service after WWII

Part 2: Covering mainly Europeans and British Dependent Territories Seamen, originally for the period 1946 to 1972, although some seamen's records covering the WWII period can be found

Part 3: Asiatic seamen, mostly from the Indian sub-continent, from 1942 to 1965

Part 4: Asiatic seamen, mostly from the Indian sub-continent, from 1966 to 1972

Part 5: Indian, Chinese and foreign national seamen, unnumbered series (as service was only of brief duration a discharge book number was not allocated), mainly from 1941 to 1972, although the records of Chinese seaman cover the period 1945 to 1972.  Anglicised spelling of patronyms and forenames is used

Part 6: Prisoners of war and internees; Europeans, Lascars (Indians), Adenese, Goanese and Chinese, from 1940 to 1945

Part 7: Records of those men who served on merchant vessels requisitioned for War services

Part 8: Records of deaths of Merchant Seamen recorded for pension purposes for the Ministry of Pensions, from 1944 to 1951 

The front page of the CRS10 Docket book provides the following information:

  • Name
  • Date and place of birth
  • Discharge 'A' number
  • Rank or rating, with relevant certificate details
  • Details of any other qualifications
  • Date CRS10 first page was created
  • British Seamen's Identity Card Notations.  The entries refer to correspondence and issuing of cards, certificates, applications etc. The originals in general do not survive except where they have been filed in the Seaman's Pouch (see below)
  • Merchant Navy Establishment [licensed] Agencies (MNEA) Contracts

While the continuation page of the CRS10 Docket book shows:

  • A list of ships and their official numbers with date and place of engagement
  • rank or rating
  • F or H (for Foreign or Home trade voyage)
  • date and place of discharge from the ship
  • character grade
  • National Insurance contribution code
  • Registry clerk's initials and date of the entry
  • When ashore the sheet may bear the entry MNRP (Merchant Navy Reserve Pool) with date and place
CRS 10 Continuation Page © The National Archives
CRS 10 Continuation Page. © National Archives.

1973 - 1999 

No records are available from the Registry of Shipping and Seamen, as after 1973, the Registrar General was no longer required by legislation to keep records of individual seafarers.

1999 - Present 

The Registry of Shipping and Seamen is able to provide information taken from ships’ Official Log Books and Crew Agreements, which (for a charge) can be recorded on to a Certificate of Sea Service.

P&O Collection

We have a unique collection of over 25,000 items. Browse our galleries and exhibitions online.


P&O History

The P&O story began 180 years ago. Find out more in our History section.


© All Rights Reserved P&OSNCo 2023