Category Archives: New Content

The 100 Most Popular Vessel Names in the US

The US Coast Guard publishes something called “Merchant Vessels of the United States”, searchable through their Maritime Information Exchange. It’s a directory of merchant ships over about 5 tons in size. (Smaller vessels that aren’t included in MVUS may be registered by states, rather than by the federal government.) Originally, it was in print, and many copies are still available in libraries or through online sources (here’s one from 1897). Then it was published as a CD-ROM, and then USCG made a database out of it, and put it online.

USCG used to have static, ship-specific links to the database, so you could follow a link that would take you right to the entry about the ship. I discovered some time ago that those weren’t working, and eventually I contacted USCG, and got a reply from them that, yes, static links were no longer available.

I had to decide what to do, and I realize I’d made a bit of a mistake in being too caught up on the static links. If you know that a database mentions a vessel, and you still need to search for it once you get to the database, that’s still far better than not knowing at all. Then, while preparing the updated file for import, I discovered that the Office of Science and Technology, of NOAA Fisheries, publishes its own version of the same database, but with vessel-specific links! So I changed what I was doing, and modified the links so they’d point to NOAA’s version of the database.

I will soon remove the old links to the USCG database, and I haven’t yet decided if I should add an updated version of that database, even though one must still do a search for the ship there. If the information is exactly the same as what appears in the NOAA version, I might not add those links. Thoughts?

Anyway, as part of this work, I noticed that many ship names are used over and over in this database. I thought I’d take this opportunity to determine the most popular vessel names in the US.

Here are some caveats: This data is based on information compiled from the USCG MVUS database. It’s not perfect. Some people put “MV” or “SS” or other terms in front of their ship names, which they really shouldn’t do. Others (many others) start their ship name with “The ”, which I also think they shouldn’t do. (That said, my brother built a rowboat for our father, and I carved a name plate for it, and we called it “The Prelude” – with the article – because it was a reference to, among other things, Wordsworth’s poem of that name [pdf]. So clearly at least some people specifically intend to include an article. Most, however, don’t.)

Also, I didn’t combine different spellings of the same name, like “Meant II Be”, “Meant 2 Be”, and “Meant To Be”. Ship names are obviously very popular places for puns, like “Naut On Call”, and they should be left as such. I also did not combine “Nauti Boy”, “Nauti Buoy”, “Nauti Boys”, “Nauti Boyz”, “Nauti Bouys”, etc., into one name…

With all that said, here are the 100 most popular vessel names, including the number of vessels with that name, from the 365,846 named vessels in the US Coast Guard’s Merchant Vessels of the United States database:

Vessel Name Occurrences
  Serenity 417
  Freedom 382
  Liberty 329
  Osprey 306
  Second Wind 289
  Destiny 285
  Andiamo 262
  Dream Catcher 247
  Spirit 245
  Odyssey 243
  Carpe Diem 232
  Island Time 232
  Escape 231
  Pegasus 231
  Blue Moon 230
  Morning Star 226
  Obsession 216
  Orion 216
  Island Girl 209
  Voyager 195
  Grace 193
  Serendipity 191
  Legacy 189
  Time Out 188
  Escapade 185
  Tranquility 185
  Happy Ours 183
  Summer Wind 183
  Aurora 174
  Phoenix 171
  Free Spirit 169
  Double Trouble 168
  Harmony 167
  At Last 164
  Patriot 164
  Magic 163
  Sandpiper 163
  Relentless 162
  Southern Cross 162
  Halcyon 159
  Mariah 159
  Amazing Grace 157
  Pelican 154
  Endless Summer 153
  Calypso 152
  Whisper 151
  Encore 148
  Imagine 148
  Pura Vida 148
  Seas the Day 148
  Impulse 147
  Eagle 146
  North Star 144
  Zephyr 144
  Wanderer 143
  Ariel 142
  Great Escape 142
  Quest 141
  Raven 141
  Cool Change 140
  Prime Time 140
  Second Chance 138
  Camelot 136
  Hakuna Matata 136
  Mirage 136
  My Way 136
  Panacea 134
  Windsong 134
  About Time 133
  Valkyrie 133
  Perseverance 132
  Journey 131
  Valhalla 131
  Puffin 129
  Patience 128
  Dream Weaver 126
  Restless 125
  Gypsy 124
  Renegade 124
  Black Pearl 123
  First Light 123
  Sanctuary 122
  Sundance 122
  Independence 121
  Resolute 121
  Dulcinea 120
  La Dolce Vita 120
  Sea Hawk 120
  Islander 119
  Moondance 119
  Sea Breeze 119
  Sea Ya 119
  Dragonfly 118
  Liquid Asset 118
  Aquaholic 117
  Dolphin 117
  Oasis 117
  Shearwater 117
  Adagio 115
  Sea Horse 115

Updated OCLC WorldCat data – 20% more, and more accurate

I’ve updated an important resource, adding 20% to its contents, and improving the accuracy of all of the data in it. When we converted from a hobby to a business, we worked with OCLC to get a file of books by or about ships. For more about how these records are used, see the first of two posts about WorldCat records, here.

In any case, we agreed with OCLC that these records would remain in the free database, rather than the newly-created subscription database. There were about 40,000 records in that file. Last month, I had the opportunity to visit OCLC’s headquarters, in Dublin, Ohio. While there, I received an updated version of this file, which now contains over 50,000 authority records for ships.

I worked through the file, doing cleanup and corrections, and spent a few tries at loading the file into the database. It wasn’t as easy as other files, because the OCLC records are fully Unicode compliant. The database likes UTF-8, but Unicode is a bit beyond its abilities. (Actually, not in its abilities to display vessel names, but in its abilities to store them.) I replaced vessel names in Cyrillic, Japanese, Chinese, etc., with their transliterated names, and also removed a lot of the Unicode characters that were causing problems.

I also fixed a lot of names that I hadn’t fixed the first time around. Most of these were ship names with prefixes attached, like “USS Daffodil” or “HMS Daffodil” or “S/S Daffodil”. It’s always best to search without those prefixes. I have cleanup still to do on those leftover ship names, but the new records are live and I can do the cleanup later.

So now, as a result, the OCLC WorldCat resource has grown from about 40,000 to about 50,000 citations, and the metadata is much improved. All of these citations are in the free database. This is a big improvement all around. Thanks again to OCLC for creating this file for me!

New Content in Database, Feb 2014

I realized recently that I hadn’t been posting the addition of new content to the blog here. I should have been doing that. I’d been putting it in the newsletters, but not on the blog. So, anyway, here’s a list of content that’s been added over the past few months:

Got something you think should be added? Please let me know!

More new NRS volumes

I’m plugging away at the Navy Records Society volumes; I’ve added the index to a collection of five volumes today. These are:

So, we’re always getting closer to getting all the NRS content in the database.

Remember that if you see content you’d like me to add, just drop me a line or post a reply here. I’m always interested to hear about new resources to add.

New content added; mostly Navy Records Society volumes

Indexes for the following volumes have been added:

One of my goals is to have the entire set of Navy Records Society volumes included in the database. These volumes are fantastic resources in British naval history. I’m working through them, one at a time. Right now, I think I have about a third or so of them in the premium database, though I’ve been focusing one the ones with the largest number of vessels mentioned in their indexes. (Actually, it’s more than a third, because some volumes have indexes for multiple volumes. I count about 53 actual indexes in the database, out of over 150 volumes published, so I’d guess the total number is closer to 60 or so.) Either way, I’ll keep at it…

New Linking Relationships

Yes, I know it’s been far too long since I posted something here. As ALA Annual rapidly approaches, however, lots of news is coming up. I added a big file a month or so ago, and I’ll add a note about that soon.

Right now, I want to mention a great linking arrangement that we recently settled on, with the good folks at Accessible Archives, who digitize 18th and 19th century publications. We’re actively collecting links to ships mentioned in the newspapers in their Civil War Collection, so you can find mentions of ships in those newspapers.

Read more about this in the recent press release, either via PR Newswire, or at the Accessible Archives website. I’ll write more about this soon.

Don’t forget that we’ll be in New Orleans in about ten days, at the American Library Association Annual Conference! We’ll be at Table 3818. See you there.

More new content, question about shipwreck info

The following files have been added to the premium database in the past few days:

The last one listed describes shipwrecks around the world. A correspondent suggested that we add more content surrounding shipwrecks, which I thought was a great idea. This is a start. I understand that there are a number of diving guides regarding shipwrecks, specifically intended to help divers locate particular sites. I’d love to know more about those, and get some examples from folks. If you have any ideas about such items — either books or websites or other sources — please let me know by email or in the blog comments section below.


New content added recently

Content from the following resources has been added to the premium database in the past few weeks:

In addition, a number of resources were update. Several hundred new vessels were added to the entry for, and corrected URLs were added to several databases where the URL structures had changed.

The premium database now contains over 1.53 million citations.

New Content: US Naval Institute Proceedings

As my background with Serials Solutions might suggest, I’m a big fan of serials (journals, magazines, etc.) and their content. I’m an even bigger fan of indexes to those publications. If there’s no index to a publication, then the past issues are nearly useless. Researchers don’t have any easy way of finding what was mentioned in those past issues, and that’s a significant loss. The next step is making that index as accessible as possible, to as wide an audience as one can. This leads to interest in and usage of the incredibly valuable back issues and past work put into the many years of a publication’s history.

So I’m always excited about adding content from indexes to journals. One subscriber asked if we could investigate adding content from the US Naval Institute Proceedings, which was a great suggestion. I learned that an index for 1874 to 1977 was printed in the early 1980s, and through assistance from staff at the USNI, I was able to get a copy of the Proceedings. I’ve completed working through that index, and have added it to the database.

The index itself isn’t fantastic: I’m sure there are many more vessels mentioned in the Proceedings than are mentioned in the index, and working through the index to make it ready to load took many, many more hours than I could have ever imagined. Some entries say, “See this article.” without including the article page numbers. Since the individual using ShipIndex wouldn’t have access to the Proceedings Index, I had to add issue and page numbers for that particular article. But sometimes the main entry for that article was nearly impossible to find – luckily, I had an electronic version so could do keyword searches across the entire index. Without that, some of those entries would have never been found. In any case, it’s been completed, and was added to the database last week. Entries tend to have a fair bit of information about what’s mentioned in the article, so that’s a good thing. The citations, though, are a bit confusing, and leave something to be desired. There’s information about how to understand them on the resource information page.

I have lots and lots and lots more journal content to add. Right now, I’m getting close to finishing work on a very extensive index to Steamboat Bill (which recently changed its name to PowerShips), covering its inception in 1940 through 2010. What’s most cool about this index is that it includes lots and lots of citations for photos and illustrations in the magazine. This is a great connection to the many, many photos in each issue. I hope to load that file in the next week or so.

I also have many indexes to Mariners Mirror that need to be processed, and there are other titles I’d also like to add, such additional years of Sea Chest, the publication of the Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society, and also American Neptune. I’ve had a tough time getting in contact with the folks from PSMHS to ensure that it’s OK to add their index to the database, and I need to get an OK on that before moving forward. I would like to point out the very smart moves of institutions that make indexes to their publications available online, particularly the Steamship Historical Society of America, for Steamboat Bill/PowerShips, and the San Diego Maritime Museum, for Mains’l Haul (whose index has been in the database for quite a while).

If there are other publications you’d like to see added, please let me know. Alas, if they have not indexed the publication themselves, then I don’t have an index to add. All the more value that one can put on creating an index to a publication — make it available; make it useful!

How about 1.5 million citations?

Oh, did I forget to mention that the premium ShipIndex database now has 1.5 MILLION citations in it? I loaded links to nearly 90,000 ship images into the database last week. And now we have over 1.5 million citations, which is a great milestone in my book. New content is from the following sources:

The current number of citations is 1,513,325 citations. I’m aiming for 1.75 million next…