South Australian maritime records – Fact sheet 260

Maritime records provide a valuable source of information for family historians and maritime researchers. South Australian maritime records held by the National Archives are mostly located in the Adelaide, Sydney and Canberra offices. Many of these records date from the mid-nineteenth century and were created by the South Australian colonial government, with the Commonwealth Government taking responsibility after 1901.  They include records relating to functions such as customs administration, vessel registration, crew, passenger arrivals and departures, lighthouses and navigation.


Records about many of the well-known vessels that operated in South Australian waters can be located in the collection. These include the Alert, Falie, Nelcebee and One and All, and the paddle-steamer Marion.

Records relating to vessels include: declarations and transfers of ownership, certificates of survey, logbooks, vessel licences, Court of Marine Enquiry files, and entries in the British Register of Ships and in registers of vessel arrivals and departures. The British Register of Ships records ship names, official numbers, ports of registration and other details. A composite alphabetical index to all the microfilm registers has been created.

Examples of record series relating to South Australian maritime vessels are listed below.


 Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number
SeriesShipping casualty investigation book1907–10AP816/9
SeriesCourt of Marine Enquiry folders1950–70D2910


 Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number
SeriesBoat licence books1902–24D5307

All offices (microfilm) - except in Melbourne office

Passenger and crew records

The National Archives holds both passenger and crew records. For further information on arrival and departure records for passengers at South Australian ports, see Passenger records held in Adelaide.

Examples of South Australian record series relating to crew members are listed below. The records for South Australia date from 1852 and include registers of deserters, discharges, engagements, certificates of competency and service, crew lists, and articles of agreement.



 Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number
SeriesRegisters of indentures of apprenticeships to the sea service1922–74D2043

How to find more information

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2018